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Tension Envelope celebrates 125th anniversary

Press release from the issuing company

Kansas City, Mo. - Tension Envelope Corporation celebrates its 125th anniversary this year, marking it as the oldest family-owned and operated company in the envelope industry. Founded on March 17, 1886, Tension also ranks as one of the oldest continuously family-run companies in the U.S.

This year, during its yearlong 125th Anniversary, the company celebrates a long history of growth and reinvention. The company began as a specialty printer under the name Berkowitz & Co. and quickly evolved into an envelope manufacturer, now producing and selling over 12 billion envelope products annually, and providing automated packaging solutions for web-based and consumer mail order companies, as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

“Our longevity and success is based upon the commitment and contributions of our associates, and our ability to innovate and respond as industries change and the market dictates,” said Bill Berkley, Tension President and CEO, and the fourth generation family member to lead the business. “We have a record of delivering solutions to help our clients improve internal processes, reduce cost, and achieve positive results.”

In recent years, the Company has successfully met the challenges of a global marketplace. From its Kansas City home Tension has expanded operations to include seven manufacturing locations nationally and overseas facilities in China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Australia to serve foreign-based companies, as well as American-based businesses with international operations.

Tension has also strategically adapted to the changes in the postal landscape and in manufacturing technology, which has impacted the envelope industry. Today, the Company focuses on commercial customers for which envelopes and packaging are a mission-critical part of their business enterprise. Tension has also penetrated the automated fulfillment packaging market by establishing Tension Packaging, which offers innovative packaging products, consumables and software, and automated packaging systems for direct-to-consumer mail order operations. The packaging division also designs, builds and integrates automated systems and robotics for mail order and central-fill pharmacies.

“We have continually modernized to meet market demands,” said Berkley, “while at the same time maintaining quality and innovation which is essential.”  Tension has also incorporated Lean Sigma into its manufacturing, administrative, and sales processes to streamline its systems and operations.

Environmental stewardship is another area of Tension leadership, and among companies involved in printing and paper utilization, the Company has been on the forefront of sustainability. Tension has pioneered the use of safe inks, recycled papers and other eco-friendly options for its line of eco products. Conservation is key to all operations, and the Company has instituted award-winning programs to reduce, reuse, and recycle manufacturing materials and production wastes. In addition, Tension has achieved certification for its paper products by the major organizations devoted to responsible forestry practices.

Tension has been recognized by the Flexographic Technical Association for its printing excellence, having won numerous awards in the FTA annual competitions.               

Tension history has been filled with firsts. The Company was the first to install an envelope machine west of St. Louis in 1894, and the first to introduce German high-speed rotary equipment to North America in 1921. In 1909, the Company received its first envelope patent and over the years has held more envelope and manufacturing patents than all other envelope companies combined. In 1932, Tension was the first in the industry to establish its own graphic design and in-house Art Department to design envelopes to meet customer requirements and provide new ideas. Tension was first to introduce ground-breaking envelope styles, such as the Send-‘n-Return Envelope, a two-way reusable product, and Performance Plus Envelopes, a product line designed for optimal performance across different platforms of modern high-speed mailing systems. As part of a process of “continuous improvement,” today’s product and packaging lines remain on the cutting edge of their industries.

It’s been 125 years since the Company opened its doors, and Tension has been headquartered in the historic Kansas City building for 97 years, but almost everything else has changed. The envelope products, the manufacturing processes, the business operations, and the environmental practices have all evolved and expanded to take Tension Envelope on its long successful journey into this millennium and provide the springboard into the Company’s second century.


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