November 4, 2015

BEYOND PACKAGING: Suite of Services Drives Sambrailo’s Growth

Sambrailo Packaging Company has an impressive history in the produce industry dating back almost a full century.  But when Tom Byrne joined the third-generation, family-owned firm a couple of years ago as its vice president and general manager, he was equally impressed with the array of services provided by the packaging company.

He noted that the company was well-known as a provider of packaging, but the suite of services that it provided for its customers flew under the radar.  When he first arrived at Sambrailo as a veteran in the packaging industry, Byrne surveyed the firm’s customers to determine how they perceived the company.  Not surprisingly, most respondents focused in on the firm’s core product.

“They saw us as a packaging supplier, but we do so much more than that,” Byrne relayed.

Sambrailo has long been aligned with Driscoll’s Strawberry Associates and Byrne said the company has been fortunate enough to grow significantly over the years as Driscoll’s has grown the berry category to unprecedented heights.  And over the years, the packaging company has added many services in the packaging realm to aid Driscoll’s and its other customers.

“We go from design to development to issuance to the grower and everything in between,” Byrne said.

He added that in the “everything in between” catchall includes planning, forecasting, procurement, recycling, inventory management and production scheduling.

In a nutshell, or clamshell if you will, Byrne found that the company was well known for offering specific packaging configurations that it had designed, developed and manufactured, but not as well-known as an expert procurement manager for any packaging that a customer needs.

The Sambrailo executive explained that clamshell molds are very expensive, costing $100,000 to $250,000 for each mold.  No packaging company has every clamshell configuration for every situation.  But the Sambrailo team can work with the customer, identify their needs, procure the products necessary for those needs and warehouse them so they can handle inventory management.

Byrne said that while providing many of those services has been ongoing for decades and generations of growers and shipper customers, the company, guided by a strong and multi-faceted management team, has now formally packaged them under the Sambrailo Resource Management umbrella.  He said working with Driscoll’s for the past 70 years allowed “us to constantly up our game.”

He believes the packaging expertise that the firm now has within its four walls offers a great and efficient value proposition for its customers.  “For example, one of our employees, Tony Cadiente, has been here for 54 years…from wooden boxes to corrugated… from berry baskets to the invention of the clamshell.  He has worked with paper trays, injection molds and thermoformed plastics.  We are able to leverage his institutional knowledge to help our customers.”

Though Byrne acknowledges there could be a perception of bias when using a packaging manufacturer to buy competitive packaging, he said that is not the case.  Using his earlier explanation of the clamshell business, he said it is a foregone conclusion that no packaging company can have every item in that genre that a shipper needs.  It makes perfect business sense, he said, to use the expertise that Sambrailo has to make certain that the shipper is getting the best product possible for the intended use.  And it makes further sense for Sambrailo to utilize its resources in that arena—facilities, capital, expertise, buying leverage—to help its customers efficiently manage their packaging needs and find the right packaging solution for every situation.

Sambrailo, in fact, is improving its value proposition in the procurement and inventory management end of the packaging business by creating strategic partnerships with other suppliers to give it easier and greater access to a wider range of products.  He said these new alliances allow for increased production and delivery of packaging solutions from the United States, Mexico and Asia.

While the company is making a concerted effort to tout the “services” end of the business, it remains a major packaging manufacturer and supplier, especially in the clamshell sector.  Byrne said that clamshells continue to gain market share in many commodities including berries, tomatoes, grapes and other fruit.  The firm does most of its sales business with U.S.-based firms operating in California and Mexico.

Sambrailo is a leader in the industry with its lines of Mixim®, RunRite® and Go Greener!™ clamshells.  The Mixim packaging system improves air-flow and produces faster cooling, while RunRite clamshells are well-suited to blueberry production with the containers designed and engineered to run on high-speed packing lines with minimal down-time and product loss.  As such, the firm claims the packaging is the most efficient and cost-effective clamshell on the market.

The “Go Greener!” product line for organic growers was introduced in 2014 with clamshells made from 100 percent post-consumer recycled PET from clear and green beverage bottles.  These clamshells are a translucent green color and are instantly recognizable by organic consumers on the retail shelf.