Sharp Packaging Systems isn’t your typical converter. In fact, you could say it’s just as much an equipment manufacturer as it is a converter. While the company extrudes its own film, prints on said extruded film and is a converter of premade bags, it’s also a fully integrated manufacturer of flexible packaging equipment. But it’s the business model – along with continued investment in its employees, products and customers – that has always been at the forefront of the company’s decades-long success.
“Sharp Packaging’s greatest assets are its employees, who pioneer new technologies, birth new industries and power economic growth,” says Micah McDowell, vice president of sales and marketing at the Sussex, Wisconsin-based company.
McDowell, who has been with Sharp Packaging since 2005, took his current position in 2010, where he now establishes sales targets and develops strategic sales plans that align with company goals and promote sales growth and customer satisfaction.
Since its founding in 1984, Sharp Packaging has expanded to additional locations in Tempe, Arizona, and East Troy, Wisconsin, and has grown to include more than 200 employees. The company, McDowell says, has remained competitive in the industry for 32 years by “increasing capacity with new, state-of-the-art extrusion, converting and printing equipment” and through innovation on the latest product lines.
Just this year, Sharp Packaging purchased the eight-color Onyx flexographic printing press from Uteco. The design and performance of the press, McDowell says, has so far provided Sharp Packaging with “the latest technologies and features in safety, quality and productivity.” The press also features a 100 percent defect-detection system.
“Sharp Packaging has engineered the most innovative machinery available,” McDowell says. “Our equipment includes everything from semi-automatic tabletop machines to completely automated bagging machines that are used in some of the largest fulfillment operations in the world. Our accessories streamline bagging for many types of products.”
With the demand of ever-changing technology looming over business decisions, Sharp Packaging stays on top of current and future industry trends, while also considering the needs of its customers.
“There’s no avoiding global uncertainty,” McDowell says. “Understandably, consumers don’t want to pay any more than they have to for their packaged goods, and that’s why cost is – and will be – one of the key packaging market trends. Cost is one of the first considerations made when making buying decisions.”
Sharp Packaging has also considered consumer and client concerns over sustainability and environmentally-friendly solutions in the flexible packaging industry. In fact, this past June the company opened a 160,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sussex, Wisconsin, which company officials say includes design improvements to advance sustainability and reduce lead time for automatic bagging machines and bags.
“(We) focused on environmentally-friendly solutions when designing the new manufacturing facility,” McDowell says. “Polyethylene scrap recycling is a metric that we continue to explore. An on-site solvent recycling/recovery system was implemented (at the facility) with reclaiming solvent, significantly reducing spent waste solvent generated by the flexo printing process.”
At the new facility, Sharp Packaging also replaced its solvent-based platemaking system with a solvent-free thermal system and installed energy-efficient lighting.
“While moving into a new building can bring new, unexpected challenges, the move has been quick and unobtrusive,” McDowell says. “The new facility adds more production to manufacturing as we move into peak season.”
Best known for its packaging solutions in e-commerce, pharmacy benefit manager fulfillment centers and mailing facilities, Sharp Packaging boasts a long list of improvements with the implementation of its systems. And the company’s engineers are looking for ways to reduce a client’s labor costs and streamline operations, McDowell says.
“Service to our customers is our top priority. Our unique relationship with (our customers) is why we exist,” he says. “We want you to see the benefits of using high-quality Sharp machinery and bags, so we work hard to educate ourselves and pass the knowledge on to you. We appreciate our customers’ business, and we encourage them to let us know how we can better serve them.”
Sharp Packaging Systems