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O.Berk Company Reflects on a Century of Solutions With a Look Back and a Look Ahead


O.Berk Company celebrated its Centennial Anniversary throughout all of last year – after all, it’s not every day that a company can boast a 100-year history in business! It was an exciting year, and we received congratulatory messages from suppliers, customers, government officials, dignitaries, civic and trade associations and even competitors – all in all a very humbling, and gratifying, experience.

The packaging distribution industry has experienced tremendous changes over the past century. When O.Berk was founded in 1910, bottle distribution was basically nothing more than a recycling operation. We picked up used bottles, cleaned them out and then redistributed them. Automatic bottle making machinery wasn’t in widespread use until the 1920s and plastic hadn’t been invented.

A Look Back…
If we were asked to list the major developments in packaging and packaging distribution during the past century, these would certainly make our “short list.”
• The 1920s – automatic glass bottle production replaced semi-automatic, mouth-blown glass production. Screw threads added to the automatic bottle machine gave rise to the metal screw cap.
• The 1930s saw a lifting of restrictions on authorized areas of distribution as the result of the steel industry anti-trust suit. Regional representation (franchises) was declared illegal, allowing the sale of glass, without geographic restriction.
• Plastic bottles came into vogue in the 1950s, made from low-density polypropylene (LDPE) and polyethylene.
• High-density polypropylene (HDPE) – a rigid plastic that was used for many kitchen and bathroom products, including bleach and detergents – was introduced in the 1960s.
• The commercialization of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in the 1980s provided clarity to plastic containers, giving it a more glass-like appearance.
• Towards the end of the 20th century, the “green” movement took hold and, as consumer demand for more sustainable packaging gained strength, distributors were challenged to add more “green” products, including those made from post-consumer regrind (PCR).
According to O.Berk Company President and CEO, Marc Gaelen, “The O.Berk Company has been fortunate. We have continued to grow and prosper through the Great Depression, two World Wars and the economic roller coaster of the last several decades. To have been an integral part of packaging industry history over the past hundred years is inspiration enough for us to want to continue forging ahead into our next century of service.”

And a Look Ahead…

The next century? While we don’t have a crystal ball to see far ahead into the future, we do have some thoughts about where the packaging industry and O.Berk need to focus to stay ahead of the game in meeting the demands of an ever-changing market, with innovative products and competitive pricing.
• We believe that sustainability will continue to have a major impact on packaging. We expect to see the development and use of more environmentally responsible materials to manufacture plastic containers, including biodegradable additives that accelerate container breakdown and bioplastics, to meet the ever-increasing consumer demand for environmentally conscious production.
• The frontiers for custom container decorating will continue to expand as manufacturers seek the latest and greatest innovative, eye-catching designs, media and materials that will make their package “shine” on a crowded shelf. We believe that one of the most innovative techniques that will produce the much-desired “Wow!” effect is media-enhanced packaging that provides a multi-media experience to consumers using smart phones. This type of packaging features an image, embedded with code, that can be scanned with a smart phone to display more information about the product. This certainly provides a medium for product manufacturers who want to quickly differentiate themselves from their competitors at point of purchase.
• As our customers continue to grow in size and scope, we foresee greater opportunity to become more involved and integrated with their operations on many levels. Supply chain management. Logistics. Warehousing capabilities that allow a customer to split ship orders and store the unshipped portion until needed. Continued expansion of design, development and custom tooling capabilities. All of this adds up to the ability to manage a customer’s every need and expectation.
• With our emerging brands, the focus will always be on helping them with defining project scope, assisting with development and getting products to market more quickly and cost effectively. When you’re trying to create a space in the marketplace, navigating the minefield of packaging container and decorating options can seem…well…daunting, to say the least. Our packaging consultants will continue to offer their knowledge, experience and industry expertise to create a compelling brand presence for these customers.

Whenever we survey our customers or engage them in conversation, the concept of “speed-to-market” is always mentioned. O.Berk’s goal as an industry leader is to continue to reduce the “time” element involved in the packaging development cycle. From concept and development to production and delivery, the key is to find the fastest and most efficient ways to get a package to store shelves and into consumers’ hands. “How fast can we get that?” demonstrates that critical speed-to-market concern that beleaguers every one of our customers. We’d like our stock answer to be, “How soon do you want it?”

Gaelen stated, “O.Berk’s role will be to provide a one-stop information resource for the industry, to be to the packaging distribution industry what “Google” is to “search” and “Wiki” is to “information.” Delivering full-service solutions, demonstrating consistent “know-how” and a “can-do” attitude with a keen eye that’s focused on emerging trends and technologies. Answers at our fingertips. Comprehensive knowledge of what’s available. Guided solutions that consider every need – expressed and implied. Sourcing the most cost-effective packaging innovations. That’s the O.Berk Company of the 21st Century – the Leader in Packaging Solutions.”

O.Berk Company, headquartered in Union, NJ, provides complete packaging services and solutions to the pharmaceutical, healthcare, cosmetic, personal care, food and beverage, and household and commercial industries, with stock and custom plastic and glass containers, caps, pumps, sprayers, and labeling and decorating services.

For more information, contact Joel Simpson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, or call (908) 851-4459.


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