Some companies have only recently jumped on the green bandwagon, but Atlas Paper Mills LLC has long embraced sustainability practices. The Miami-based company has manufactured recycled, environmentally preferable tissue products since the early 1980s.

The products are made of recycled fiber and without the use of chlorine or chlorine derivatives. 

“Our company’s papermaking doesn’t use any chemicals that would be considered hazardous to the environment,” President and CEO Jim Brown asserts.

After nearly 140 years, Smyth Companies LLC has nurtured a strong reputation in its industry, President Scott Fisher says. “There’s a lot of respect for our knowledge and problem-solving abilities,” he says. “We’re very well known as an organization that’s been able to drive the market.”

Based in St. Paul, Minn., Smyth Companies manufactures primary labels, shrink and glue-applied labels for a multitude of market segments. Founders Henry H. Price and Elijah B. Mitchell founded the company in 1876 as Price and Mitchell.

Make no mistake, Priority Envelope is certainly a manufacturer of envelopes. But its executives say that what the company really sells is service – a quality, on-time solution to meet its customers’ needs. Envelopes are simply a byproduct of that focus.

Founded in 1996 by owners Paul Siegle and Ryan Wenning, Priority Envelope manufactures custom-made high-volume and web-produced envelopes, litho printed converted envelopes, imprinted envelopes and stock envelopes, and offers an array of specialty services. Priority Envelope’s clients include printers, trade brokers, letter shops and companies with a need for customized envelopes. Eighteen years ago, Priority Envelope started out with two Halm Jet presses, five employees, a 5,000-square-foot building in Minneapolis and one focus – the customer. 

Consumers rely heavily on companies like Paper Pak Industries (PPI), although they might not completely realize it. It’s safe to say, however, that if PPI’s products were not available to its diverse customer base, commercial packaging would be much less safe and appealing to consumers. 

Founded in 1960, PPI says it is the largest manufacturer in North America dedicated solely to the manufacturing of absorbent mediums for the food, medical and safety industries. Based in La Verne, Calif., the operation describes itself as a “dynamic, vertically integrated company” that remains focused exclusively on the absorbency market.

“With over 50 years of experience, we are the preferred supplier of absorbent products to the leading food processors, supermarkets, packaging manufacturers, medical facilities, first responders, industrial manufacturers and commercial facilities,” the company says. “Paper Pak Industries continues to pioneer the commercial absorbency market. Our two vertically integrated manufacturing facilities feature state-of-the-art equipment and systems that allow us to manufacture innovative products that deliver unique absorbency solutions.”

The advent of the Internet and the growing pervasiveness of digital printing equipment in offices has changed the paper business considerably. Overall paper consumption is down and businesses rely on outside commercial printers less, but because businesses are printing in-house more, they are becoming a growing market for wholesale paper distributors such as Lewis Paper, based in suburban Chicago.

“Businesses are shifting from being retail paper customers to being wholesale paper customers,” COO Tom Clarkson says. “It’s tricky because they don’t know who we are or how well we service, but once they see the difference between wholesale and retail pricing – that’s a big selling point for us.”

Lewis Paper, one of the largest wholesale paper distributors in the Midwest, has also diversified its product line beyond paper to include packaging and break room, janitorial and office supplies to serve this new niche as a one-stop shop. In doing so, the company has expanded its potential customer base beyond printers to include every type of business.

In 10 years, Overstock.com Inc. grew its annual revenues from more than $1.8 million to more than $1.09 billion. How did this online retailer capture and hold on to consumers, even as the economy continues to put a damper on consumer spending? By providing shoppers with a convenient way to find bargains while offering an alternative sales channel to manufacturers, distributors and other retailers.

With brand names like Electrolux, which originated in 1909, or AEG – a global brand that was established in Germany in 1887 – Electrolux Global Brand Licensing has been offering companies brands with centuries of performance since 2007. “To me, the brand name brings trust,” says Matt Young, head of global brand licensing for AB Electrolux. “People are going to buy things that they trust in. When you have a brand name that consumers associate with high quality, trust is the key element that gives you the extra margin.”

For businesses that serve the fashion world, flexibility tends to be the key to success. Hence, it is one of the tools that Jonathan Rosenbaum, CEO of Nu World Beauty, uses to steer his company toward profitability. It is also the manner in which he began the company.

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