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Whit Everett on the folding carton market

Published on November 12, 2012

Whit Everett, President of Everett Graphics talks to Cary Sherburne about the trends in the folding carton printing market. They discuss run-length trends, copy obsolescence, just-in-time demands, and finishing.

Cary Sherburne: Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink and we’re back with Whit Everett who is President of Everett Graphics out of Oakland, California. Welcome back.

Whit Everett: Thank you.

Cary Sherburne: We talked earlier about a unique press that you’re in the process of installing from KBA but let’s step back a little bit and talk just about the folding carton market.

Whit Everett: Sure.

Cary Sherburne: You know there’s been a lot of discussion in packaging circles from the brand owners all the way through the supply chain about the need to have more flexibility in the number of skews that you do, the faster time to market, predictable color quality, all those discussions. What are the trends that you’re seeing in terms – especially in terms of shorter run lengths and that kind of thing in folding carton?

Whit Everett: Well basically we’re seeing a lot of pressure on inventory control and so the run lengths – our typical run length now is around 22,000 sheets. It’s actually gone up a little bit which is, I think, counter to the trend that a lot of people are seeing in the marketplace. Maybe that’s just the nature of our customer base but what’s really happening is they’re putting a lot of pressure on us to control their inventory. So those dreaded words for the people in the packaging business, “just in time” it is truly - it’s reached an all-time peak as far as we’re concerned. So we have millions of dollars of product in our warehouse and that’s where we really are helping out our client base in terms of they want it on their dock not a day before, right at that day.

Cary Sherburne: And on their books.

Whit Everett: Right, exactly.

Cary Sherburne: And what about the obsolescence of the information on the package?

Whit Everett: That’s a very good point. So we’re seeing a lot of copy changes and that’s something we have to stay on top of. And we’ve recently upgraded out whole front end department – brand new workflow that creates a very fast time to press and that’s helped us out quite a bit too.

Cary Sherburne: Is that from somebody or built on your own?

Whit Everett: Oh, no, that was actually Heidelberg Workflow and that’s something we put in last year and it’s worked quite well. As far as obsolescence, you know that’s something that we have a special way of showing our clients, “Hey this is the product you have on the shelf and this is the product that you’re going to but you’ve got to make sure you move this through inventory.” So it gets back to the inventory control at the end of the day.

Cary Sherburne: Right and so who holds the bag, so to speak, if you’ve got all that inventory and they come through with a copy change?

Whit Everett: Well, they hold the bag.

Cary Sherburne: Okay.

Whit Everett: Because we have POs.

Cary Sherburne: That do that. And so do you think if you looked out five years do you think you’re gonna see those average run lengths substantially lower?

Whit Everett: I think actually the burden’s gonna fall on us to manage those run lengths. I think the client’s gonna say they’ll take smaller and smaller amounts and shorter, shorter periods of time. But still in our business it really breaks down to cost so even though they want the run lengths to be smaller they don’t want the price to be bigger. So I don’t think it’s gonna be shorter run lengths. I think it’s just gonna be more managed on our end.

Cary Sherburne: And always in the past the bottleneck really has been in finishing.

Whit Everett: Right.

Cary Sherburne: So what do you see happening there?

Whit Everett: In finishing what we’re doing is we’re adding additional capabilities for more throughput. So what we really like in our finishing department is to have the product be pulled through rather than sitting in stacks. We like our finishing department to be wide open so we’re adding additional capabilities. A lot of value add stuff, a lot of things because we don’t farm out anything, we do everything in-house. And so when the product comes off the press virtually the finishing department is sucking it through the back end.

Cary Sherburne: And what are you using today? Just traditional die cutting machines?

Whit Everett: Well, yeah, but we blank everything so we don’t have any stripping department. Again, so it’s really to expedite material through the back end. Everything comes through, our die cutters are already separated and it goes right to our finishing department. And then we have eight pieces of finishing equipment that do various things including some new forming equipment that’s pretty exciting.

Cary Sherburne: Great. And next time we talk hopefully I’ll be able to visit you in Oakland and we’ll get a chance to see that live.

Whit Everett: You’re always welcome.

Cary Sherburne: Thank you.

Whit Everett: Thank you.

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