With the 50th anniversary of TPH Global Solutions (The Packaging House, Inc.) on the horizon, a conversation with our president, Phil Schmidt, shows how far we’ve come.
From film color separations to digital photography, domestic to global manufacturing, and designing packaging and displays specifically for individual retailers, the packaging and retail POS/POP display industry has evolved – and TPH has evolved with it, every step of the way.
An Evolving Industry
“When the company started, we didn’t have computers. Everything was done manually: invoices, inquiries, all letters were typed. Color separations were made with a camera. We used to take a picture and use a drum scanner to break the color spectrum into 4 process colors. It was a labor intensive process. Now, 4-color images are all done with a computer as a result of disk-to-plate capability so that printing plates are created with greater image quality and without negatives and burning plates.
“We used to have flat art so we had to photograph and scan images. Printing press and die-cutter setup times were over 50% longer in the past. Today, printing presses are digitized and require less people to operate with shorter make ready times. In the past, we removed the scrap area on sheets with an air jackhammer. Today, we now punch them out on the die cutter, which is much more efficient.”
“There were no cell phones and the industry was much more relationship driven. Now it’s much more value-driven. Production counts were hand-counted before and our clients today want this information in real-time: by line and shift for tracking purposes. Lead-times are also much shorter, having shrunk from 4-6 weeks before to a few weeks today.
“When we started, all production was domestic and Chicago-centric for us. Today, our production is national and global because our clients are now all over the country, and many have shifted their manufacturing overseas.
“Here’s an example of how the retail POP/POS display market has changed. Before, if you needed a floor display, you would order 500, put them in your warehouse, create a sell sheet to promote them, go around to different retailers (many more independents back then), and sell them your products and displays. Today, it’s much more environmental and retailer focused: you make displays for specific retailers, especially chains like Costco, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and PetSmart, just to name a few.
“For us, we used to do a lot of work with food and educational publishing. Now in addition to those industries, we’ve migrated to pharmaceutical, apparel, sporting goods, hardware, and cosmetics.”