Accurate Box Can Adapt Quickly to New Strategies Per Buyer Needs
A chameleon’s colors aren’t just camouflage; they also change due to temperature shifts or emotions. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense that Accurate Box would choose this amazing animal as its mascot. Accurate Box’s customers include many heavyweight companies, and to keep this level of clientele happy, the box manufacturer has to be ready to shift and adapt quickly to new strategies according to buyer needs.
Being quick to react is a concept Accurate Box has had plenty of time to perfect. Founded in 1944, the company turned 75 this year. It was started in Newark, N.J., as a small folding carton company by the current owner’s grandfather, Henry Hirsh. In the late 1970s, Henry’s son Charlie Hirsh put the company on the map by transitioning the business to produce high graphic corrugated packaging. The timing couldn’t have been better. It was right at the advent of the big club stores and Accurate Box had its items front and center.
By 1983, Accurate Box outgrew its original facility and moved into its current place in Paterson, N.J. Around that time, Charlie Hirsh’s daughter Lisa Hirsh and her husband, Mark Schlossman, joined the family business. Schlossman is now the vice president of sales and Hirsh is the CEO. Their daughter Samara Ronkowitz has since joined and represents the fourth generation. Today, the company is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), has 325 employees and is one of the largest independent box manufactures of litho-laminated packaging in the United States.
Even though Accurate Box is 75 years old, it’s not slowing down. Hirsh has been buying new equipment and reinvesting in the company with the confidence of an owner who’s going for another 75. Her instincts have been correct because the company has shown tremendous growth, tripling in size within the past 12 years.
Two years ago, Accurate Box invested in its printing department with a new printing press with UV capabilities. More recently, it has brought in two new die cutters. The company also added solar panels to its roof that supply up to 20 percent of the building’s electrical needs.
New equipment is essential in this line of business. “Our customers are very visible companies,” Schlossman explains. “They’re very large and we compete with other major competitors. There’s not a lot of room available in the margin as far as pricing so it’s critical for us, if we want to play in this arena, we have to reinvest in the company because it’s all about the speed of the equipment and what our yields are in each department. ”
Accurate Box serves the needs of big-box stores, grocery stores, catering companies, quick-serve restaurants and e-commerce. The current strategy is to lean toward those companies that need fast turnaround times and can’t afford to wait for packaging from overseas. The e-commerce market, especially, has to move quickly. A product may be produced overseas, but the demand for delivery is typically two-day shipping or in some cases next-day. For this to work, the packaging and the shipper must be close by and ready to go.
This is one of the areas where chameleon qualities come into play. Accurate Box isn’t the biggest in its category, but that’s a benefit because it allows the company to be quick to morph into what the customer needs. “It’s important to be fast to react to our customers’ wants and be very progressive in being able to put new ideas and concepts in front of the customer,” Schlossman notes.
With the entire work team in one location, decisions are made swiftly and implemented immediately. Customers change graphics frequently with encouragement from Accurate Box. Since the graphics department is in-house, cost is minimal. “We encourage them to have a standard box, and then a Valentine’s box, Father’s Day box, Mother’s Day box without a true penalty to them. It’s an advantage,” he explains.
The one-plant facility model is one that works both for efficiency and sustainability. As the market continues to demand speed, various customers are also looking for environmental features. Accurate Box is different from many competitors in that it handles every point of production in one building. The sheeting, printing presses, corrugators and die cutters are all in one place. Product doesn’t have to move from a printing facility in one state to a corrugating facility in another, which is the case for most large manufacturers. This means there’s no transportation between manufacturing stages with Accurate Box.
As market demands change, Accurate Box changes, too. The manufacturer is able to run different materials that vary in strength and weight to manufacture boxes that are heavier, stronger or lighter depending on what’s needed. “Expectations are high and our customers expect 100 percent perfect boxes to be at their plants on time at a good price,” Schlossman says. Delivering on time entails having visibility into customer inventory systems to see their build plans, then sending boxes out to their various sites on exactly the day they need to be there. That might involve sending boxes to different work plants in multiple states on the same day for a single client.
For Accurate Box, the key to inventory management is in minimizing waste and time spent. New equipment in each department makes this task easier. The company uses a vendor managed inventory (VMI) system that permits faster start-up times and shorter switch times in between jobs, and helps minimize waste. “A customer might order two million boxes and tell us they’ll use 500,000 a month,” Schlossman explains. “It’s then our job to keep them in supply.”
The box manufacturer goes on and off the machinery a number of times during the course of that order as opposed to making all two million at once. Putting that large amount of boxes on the floor would take up valuable warehouse space and could also affect the quality of the boxes if they sat in cases on pallets for months. At the point, the boxes wouldn’t run well on the customers’ machinery.
Another key to business success for Accurate Box involves maintaining relationships with suppliers. “The paper industry is very large in the U.S.,” Hirsh notes. “We have very good long-term relationships with paper suppliers and our raw ingredient suppliers.” Accurate Box works only with suppliers that are within a 24-hour radius of the facility.
At a guaranteed buy-in rate, the box company secures a total of 12 roll widths to use throughout its total operation. The mills keep an agreed-upon min/max, replacing resources as they get depleted. “This gives us the flexibility to go on and off our equipment and make the same product for a company like Kellogg’s this week, and then two weeks from now and then two weeks after that,” Schlossman says.
Part of maintaining good ties with suppliers means not bouncing around. “As long as they keep their prices, we are loyal,” he adds. “Those relationships are important. Paper can be plentiful or low at times.”
There have been many times Accurate Box has been on the receiving end of “bouncing around.” It happens often that the design team will pitch an idea to a customer only to have a competitor offer a lowball price. The customer goes with the cheaper manufacturer, but is back within the year after that other company couldn’t deliver. “The price doesn’t do much good if their machine keeps jamming because the box was warped or they didn’t make it to delivery,” Schlossman notes.
The idea of strong relationships extends to employees as well. In 2019, the manufacturer earned an award for Top Work Places in New Jersey. The recognition serves to attract young talent to apply at Accurate Box, which is especially beneficial in this labor market. Accurate Box has a work-hard/play-hard mentality that has worked well for business, and the company is reaping the benefits of the energy and comradery that have resulted from the new hires.
With 75 years behind it, the future is bright for Accurate Box. The company has averaged more than 10 percent growth every year for the last six years and is poised to continue that growth. There is one more machine the company has its eye on depending on an upcoming trial. The leadership team plans to continue to be aggressive. Pricing has been well-received. The goal now is to find ways each year to get more out of the current facility than the year before.