A Box to Fit This, That, and Just About Everything
Whatever product you need to package, Jamil Packaging – box engineers, manufacturers and distributors – has got it. If they haven’t, they’ll get it, and if it can’t be sourced, they’ll customize it for you – to the exact shape, size, and features you need.
‘Making lemonade when life gives you lemons’ pretty well describes what happened when Ira Anes founded Jamil Packaging in 1973, as current owner, David A. Diroll Sr. explains.
At that time, Ira Anes was working as general manager for Stone Container, “but there was a recession and they let him go as they consolidated the managers to manage more than one plant. So he had a choice. He could either go back to New York or start a box company in South Bend.”
South Bend won, and Anes named his new company Jamil (an acronym made up of the family’s initials — Joy, Andrew, Michael, Ira and Louise). Diroll Sr. came to work there two years later and recalls how “we were very small. There were six employees. We were a bandsaw, a slitter and a slatter operation, and our sales were about a quarter of a million dollars.”
Diroll Sr. and his wife, Mary Ellen (who now works in the HR and payroll department), purchased the business in 1994, and have since been joined by son David M. Diroll, Jr. as general manager.
In size and scope, Jamil has come a long way. The Indiana company now has 125 employees, a second location in Tennessee, over $30 million in sales revenue, state-of-the-art box-manufacturing equipment, sophisticated digital-printing capability, and a million square feet of boxes produced daily.
But one thing remains the same, and that, says Diroll Jr., is a commitment to old-fashioned family values. “We try to be fair and honest with our clients. Our philosophy is to really take care of them and be professional and respectful to our company associates and supply partners, and to help our clients succeed. This is a good business formula.”
A crucial role
According to Diroll Sr., 90 percent of all products are packaged, and marketed or displayed, in corrugated packaging.
And no matter how high the quality-control systems are set for manufactured items, whether large flat-screen televisions or sensitive medical equipment, delicate jewelry or foodstuffs, their condition – when they’ve left the factory and arrive at their destination – is only as good as the packaging in which they travel.
So it’s not a stretch to say that packaging is the unsung hero of the manufacturing industry, because without it, products won’t get to market. And without high quality packaging, they won’t arrive at their destination in the mint condition in which they left the factory.
But it takes a lot of capital to supply that packaging. He describes the tremendous investment of time and money over nearly 47 years that it took to build this company into a leader in this very competitive industry.
“One of the ways we’ve been able to succeed,” he says, “is by investing in our people, in the technology, in the manufacturing capabilities, and through the philosophy of truly partnering with our associations and supply chain partners, so we can take care of our customers.”
A world of packaging
Jamil’s clients make up an A list of manufacturers, including food products, plastic, wood, automotive parts and accessories, and pharmaceuticals – as well as e-commerce customers whose business is strictly online and who need customized packaging.
Jamil is also in the retail market, with store displays and point-of-purchase packaging. It also partners with other packaging companies who haven’t invested as heavily in high-end equipment, and so purchase Jamil’s packaging materials.
In 2006, the company began investing in world class box-making equipment from BOBST, enabling it to offer sophisticated features such as auto-bottom or crash-lock boxes, pre-glued trays and glued-in partitions.
Among the finished products is just about every type of corrugated box any manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer could wish for – from air cargo containers to mini-boxes; from wardrobe, mattress, and mirror cartons to custom printed boxes and retail displays.
To accompany them are all manner of carton sealing and closing materials – hot melt glue, filament tape, stitching wire; protective products including cushion packaging, edge protection and shrink and stretch film; supplies such as labels and mailers and strapping, plastic or steel; seals and buckles; and old-fashioned twine. Jamil is also a source for packing machinery and automated packing systems, with more than 10,000 different product lines.
While 95 percent of customers buy boxes from the company and package their own goods, a few clients have turned to Jamil for retail and custom packaging. “We’ve done projects for folks who will send us everything that goes inside the box on a project-by-project basis, so we have done contract packaging and fulfillment, and we’re open to that on a project-by-project basis,” Diroll Jr. says.
Securing the supply
In 2014, Jamil formed a partnership with Alliance Sheets of Bristol, IN, which is the largest independent buyer of container board in the country. In practical terms, Diroll Jr. says, Jamil now has ownership in its own supply chain, and can access materials to make its products from all the paper mills in the country.
“One of the product lines we’re able to supply is 100-percent, post-consumer recycled, corrugated sheets for customers who have sustainability goals. There are actually several ways we can help with sustainability, whether it’s by utilizing those 100-percent recyclable corrugated sheets, or using materials that are a bit more robust and can be reused over and over again. And we supply that on the retail and point-of-purchase side as well.
“The wonderful thing about having vertical supply,” he goes on to say, “is that as a paper company our box plant doesn’t just manufacture corrugated packages and boxes. We have an engineering side as well. We can design internal packaging that helps reduce the excess packaging of peanuts or air pillows, other types of foams or even hard-shell plastics.
“Our customers are really looking for sustainable ways, and we work with them on our engineering and design side to bring more sustainable packaging to the inside of the package as well as the exterior.”
Jamil is also one of six distributors across the nation for Mako-Board™, which is a premium, bright-white paper product aimed at competing against single-use plastics in the signage industry, such as styrene, coroplast (corrugated plastic board) or vinyl banners.
Mako-Board ™ is made from 100-percent recyclable materials, can be used for packaging and indoor signage, and since it’s water resistant for up to 90 days, as temporary outdoor signage.
“It has phenomenal print properties,” says Diroll Jr. and since its 100-percent paper based, it’s a more sustainable, eco-friendly product.”
Another innovative development at Jamil is the introduction of digital printing on boxes. “We weren’t the first,” says Diroll Jr., “but I think we got in early enough that we’re seen as a major player.
“We have Hewlett-Packard printers and have been recognized by HP as one of the most efficient producers on their equipment. If you take a home-office HP printer and multiple it by a million that’s what ours can produce as an industrial printing press.
“Now we are looking to further expand our capacity on the digital print side in 2020, and that would make us one of the largest capacity printers, not only in the mid-west, but throughout the entire U.S.”
The right kind of people
After talking about Jamil’s capabilities, the move into digital printing, and the company’s concern about eco-friendly, sustainable practices, we ask father and son to sum up how they’d like to be presented to our Manufacturing in Focus readers.
“We’d like to be considered as a highly independent, flexible partner in your packaging,” Diroll Jr. says. “So whether you need design and engineering, graphics design, manufacture of the packaging, help with the supply chain, and packaging on the inside or the outside of the box, or you want an all-encompassing partner to help design and manufacture packaging, and then assist with the packaging of your own goods, we are totally open to that.”
Adds Diroll Sr., “We’re a company that’s been around for almost 47 years and we have built such a strong foundation that we believe we’ve got the capabilities, the capacities, and the efficiencies to help customers meet their goals.”
Helping others meet their goals is a family value Diroll Jr. says has been passed down to him from his parents and he is proud to see it now in his son. As a coach for his son’s seventh and eighth grade football team, Diroll Jr. noticed that the helmets the school provided were well past their prime. Knowing that helmet manufacturers are constantly innovating and improving helmet safety to help prevent concussions, he promised his son a new one for the next year.
“But Dad,” his son protested. “What about the rest of the team? They shouldn’t have to play with poor equipment.”
This led to a foundation, through which Diroll Jr. is now working with schools to find out what equipment is available and what’s urgently needed; providing more education around concussions, and organizing fundraisers.*
“This doesn’t have anything to do with the company officially,” he says, “but they are going to support it. The roots of this caring come from my parents through my son and I think it shows what kind of people they are.”
*This writer is undergoing treatment for post-concussion syndrome and applauds this initiative. MPE.