Priority Envelope

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. 

“One thing our company has changed as far as the envelope industry is that it was based more on a manufacturing model in the past,” Vice President of Sales and Marketing Scott Johnson says. “Priority had a vision of changing that model from being manufacturing-driven to being sales-driven and selling to customers a quality product with incredibly compressed lead-times.” 

That mentality has helped the company grow to what it is today – employing more than 200 people across three growing facilities. It operates its largest facility in Nevada, Iowa, which covers 96,000 square feet. It also runs an 85,000-square-foot plant in Plymouth, Minn., and a 38,000-square-foot facility in Lenexa, Kan. Its sales-driven strategy has led to targeted investments that have helped the company grow 40 percent in the past four years. 

“We made a conscious choice as a company to invest in the newest technology available, which gives us better-quality runs, better run speeds and more consistency with the quality of the product,” Wenning says. “We also wanted to increase capacity so we could make the delivery dates customers are looking for. Delivery dates are extremely important in this industry and that remains a focus for us – making sure we hit the delivery dates our customers need to meet their direct mail requirements.” 

Only the Best

The last three years have seen the company make some big investments. In 2011, Priority Envelope increased capacity at its Iowa facility and invested $5 million in state-of-the-art equipment and printing capabilities. In 2012, the company turned its focus to Kansas and added a four-color process jet machine and converter to the facility. In 2013, Priority continues to invest in the future by significantly increasing capacity and capabilities with new equipment purchases and facility modifications.  Total budgeted capital expenditures for the year exceed $10 million.  

In early January, the Iowa plant received the first of two new W&D 202 high-speed envelope converters. This model is considered the fastest true web machine in the world and boasts print capabilities of up to four colors outside and one color inside with a running speed of up to 1,600 envelopes per minute. For its Minnesota plant, Priority Envelope expanded the facility by 18,000 square feet and invested in two new W&D 627 blank-fed converters. The first arrived in January. The company has also invested in infrastructure at the Minnesota and Iowa plants and installed new energy-efficient vacuum systems.

These investments follow Priority Envelope’s long-time commitment to purchase only the best equipment available to the industry. Siegle recalls the company’s earliest days, when it invested in what it thought to be reliable, gently used equipment, only to experience technical issues. 

“Back in 1996 when Ryan and I started this whole process, we wanted to deliver consistent quality to clients,” Siegle says. “We bought two presses: one new, one used and one didn’t run very well.  We made a commitment from that time on that when we purchase technology it will be new so that we can hit the ground running. We have lived by that commitment for 18 years.” 

Priority Envelope’s pledge to buy the best equipment has helped it live up to its claim that the company is not just selling envelopes, but premium service levels. From top to bottom, selling a service is engrained into the company’s culture and Priority Envelope equips its employees with the proper resources to sell and deliver that service.

“It’s in the DNA of the company,” Johnson says. “From the time the phone call comes in to when we turn around the prices to when the product is delivered, it’s all about service. Our customer-service people, our plant supervisors – everyone is on board with it. We have really tremendous people that work really hard and we value them every single day. They’re dedicated. They’re focused. We give them the latest and greatest equipment that’s out there to help them succeed.”

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