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Travels with Larry Archive

Buckeye Boxes Bats a Thousand

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In 1966, the St. Louis Cardinals were preparing for a new era of baseball in a space age designed ballpark -- Busch Memorial Stadium. That same year, an upstart corrugated sheet plant -- Buckeye Boxes Inc. -- was founded in Columbus, Ohio, during this magic age of space travel. While the two events are unrelated except for their timing, the baseball reference reminds me that I love this Spring Training time of year, because it's the point when everyone has a perfect record. The true, sustainable winners won't step forward for some time to come.

Earlier this month, Eric Fletty and I had the opportunity to visit with one of the long time supporters of TAPPI's Corrugated Packaging Division, Craig Hoyt, who is a current member of TAPPI's Corrugated Packaging Council. Craig's father and three others, with an average of 15 years experience in corrugated, founded Buckeye in 1966. But why in Columbus? Back in 1966, there was only one sheet plant in the city.

Buckeye was quickly recognized for its quick service and adherence to the Buckeye Mission: We must improve our customer's bottom line by solving the customer's problems, especially ones they don't know they have.

"We baby our customers; we are just weird that way," Craig told us. And Buckeye doesn't just talk about doing so; they actually measure quantifiable and qualifiable improvements. One of Buckeye's slogans is the "Corrugated Solutions ROUND 2 IT: Bottom line, we get you around 2 more Profit."

ISO 9001 Certified since 1997, Buckeye practices a process of Customer Value Analysis (CVA). This team-selling approach examines both the customer's entire packaging system, as well as how that system can improve its customer's supply chain. Using Lean Enterprise applications, Buckeye discovers opportunities, creates solutions, and captures savings that sell its customized value propositions.

Craig began his immersion in the corrugated industry by working five of his high school and college summers in the Buckeye box plant. After graduating from college, he spent three years with Continental Can.

"I learned what products fit an integrated plant and what fits in an independent sheet plant," Craig explained, "I sold out of both types during that time of my career."

Craig also learned how capital expenditures are handled in some large corporations. He discovered that, in many cases, capital was spent to get boxes to fit a certain machine rather than to fit the customer's wants.  Craig feels that his competitors come from independents rather than the integrated plants. Buckeye has some employees and customers who have been with it for 40 years. The company's design lab and maintenance shop allows Buckeye to customize its equipment to meet a customer's needs. "In short, we just service our customers better than our competition," Craig explained.

Craig's take on TAPPI is that we are going in the right direction. He suggested that we somehow try to bridge the "disconnect" between the mills and the converter side of the business. The end customer should dominate the decisions made at the mill level, and he feels that TAPPI needs to be the LINK between the two.

Craig also recommends that TAPPI take more of a leading role in bringing information on new innovation and technologies into the converting side of the business.

"Independents need to find more value in their TAPPI memberships and understand how TAPPI's strategic plan includes their interests. Production professionals need to know what's in it for them," Craig said.

To that end Craig will help TAPPI's Corrugated Packaging Division update its strategic plan, and TAPPI will spread the word of its overall strategic plan to our entire membership. Going back to the baseball theme, Buckeye has and will continue to show how a true, sustainable winner steps forward.

My thanks to Craig Hoyt, president and CEO; Ken Churchill, vice president of Sales; and Chris Pieroni, assistant general manager, for making us feel welcome at Buckeye Boxes.

For more information on Buckeye Boxes Inc., contact Ken Churchill at kenchurchill@buckeyeboxes.com.

For more information on TAPPI, please go to www.tappi.org.

There are two types of people in our industry, TAPPI members, and those who should be.

Until next time -- Larry


EKA Chemicals Inc.