Fischer Paper Products

Founded in 1972, Fischer Paper Products is a third-generation family business celebrating its 40th anniversary as a high-quality manufacturer of specialty bags. The company serves more than 500 customers in the foodservice, retail, industrial, hospitality, medical and agricultural industries, and takes great pride in devising customized solutions tailored to the needs and specifications of customers.

“We specialize in packaging products and manufacturing specialty bags,” Vice President of Sales and Marketing Bill Fischer says.

“We’ve been doing that since day one,” Fischer continues. “Our equipment is designed to produce commodity bags at high speeds. Within that spectrum we try to bring value to customers by providing them with attractive products that are consistent with their brands.”

While the economy may have dipped into recession in recent years, the markets Fischer Paper Products serves are a staple of society. Whether for the foodservice, retail or other market segments, the company manufactures products that are among the cheapest forms of packaging. The company has thus been able to achieve double-digit growth even through the recession. Although consumers may have changed their dining choices and shopping habits, Fischer Paper has found a niche in a stable industry and added resources and capabilities throughout the organization to improve its service-based value proposition.

Headquartered in a manufacturing facility in Antioch, Ill., Fischer Paper Products strives to focus on customer service and excel at manufacturing. In 2011, the company opened a second facility in Waukegan, Ill. to help improve distribution and enhance value-added services.

“The new facility provided additional space that we needed immediately, and it  allows for significant growth in the future,” President Josh Fischer says.

A Natural Approach

Sustainability is another important part of Fischer Paper Products’ operations and product offerings. Recognizing that sustainability is no longer a trend, but a way of doing business, the company takes steps to ensure that its products and practices are as friendly to the environment as possible.

The large majority of Fischer Paper Products papers are recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. The company uses and stocks several grades of natural kraft papers, which are more eco-friendly because they are unbleached. The company also uses bleached kraft papers, which are processed using elemental chlorine-free (ECF) or totally chlorine-free (TCF) bleaching processes.

All its papers contain some level of recycled content, and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and/or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certify its mills for sustainable forest management. Additionally, the company uses water-based inks and vegetable-based adhesives to convert its bags.

“We are in a good position because our product is made of relatively simple, safe and renewable materials,” Bill Fischer says. “Our packaging gets the job done. It is functional and not petroleum-based. In an age where people like to be green, ours is an easy solution made of recyclable and biodegradable materials.”

On the operational side, Fischer Paper Products puts a great deal of emphasis on recycling and managing energy usage. The company works to optimize energy efficiency, use environmentally friendly raw materials and engage in direct recycling practices.

In the last few years, the company has upgraded its high-efficiency lighting system to reduce electricity usage by 33 percent, while also improving warehouse lighting to include motion sensors. The company installed a dropped ceiling in production areas, as well, which increases heating and cooling efficiency.

Bags Galore

As the company offers low-cost packaging solutions in a commoditized market, volume is still critical to its success. Fischer Paper Products produces more than 1.5 billion bags and 3,000 SKUs annually. Its offerings include a wide array of stock packaging products and custom bags, which can be used in a variety of applications. The company goes to market with stock items through a nationwide network of authorized dealers. Its printed and unprinted stock packaging products include pinch bottom bags, wraps, liners and hotel amenities.

But it is in custom bag solutions where Fischer Paper Products truly sets itself apart. Custom bag solutions provide options to customers looking for ways to enhance brand marketing efforts, as well as those in need of special size or functionality. Fischer Paper Products also offers low order minimums for customization projects, allowing brands to customize earlier and on a smaller scale as they develop their concept.

Customers work with Fischer Paper Products’ sales team to determine what they need in terms of function and appearance, and the company has its own graphic designer to help with artwork. Additionally, Fischer Paper Products can bring in its internal research and development team to find solutions for a customer.

The company is always looking for ways to enhance its product line to continue to differentiate itself. Point-of-sale bags have been a major source of growth in the market, particularly with features like window panels and using oven-able or microwaveable materials.

Building on Value

Fischer Paper Products says it is making improvements to better formalize its go-to-market strategy and the ways it measures success. The company continues to increase staff size so it can deliver cost-effectively on a day-to-day basis and commit resources to driving long-term, continuous improvement.

“We want to get more data out of our information system and put it to better use while we integrate our staff at all levels to be sure everyone understands what we are focused on and why,” Josh Fischer explains. “In the end, everything boils down to delivering on a handful of services that our customers value. The challenge is figuring out how to do so at competitive prices.”

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