Winner: Alliance Packaging, Renton
Industrial products don’t come much more basic or commoditized than the cardboard box, right? Not the way Renton-based Alliance Packaging sees it. By emphasizing innovation, customer relationships and lean internal operations, Alliance, created by the 2001 merger of Sound Container Inc. and Seattle Packaging Corporation, has grown to more than 500 employees and an average tenure of nearly 10 years each. It got there by designing and building boxes that are much more than boxes, to address specific customer needs and problems for cost, product protection and marketing.
Alliance’s portfolio includes elaborate in-store displays for retail products and wine-bottle packaging that uses 50 percent less material than standard models and requires less assembly time. The firm has nearly a dozen structural and graphic designers on staff to develop customized products. Alliance also offers extensive performance testing of compression, dropping and shaking. During the recession, it invested more than $20 million to reduce labor costs and enhance Alliance’s competitive position once the economy rebounded. It also has put increased emphasis on reducing material use, transportation fuel and electricity consumption.
Silver Award Winner: McKinstry, Seattle
You might best know McKinstry as a commercial-building manager, but it also runs a significant manufacturing operation, including a 150,000-square-foot fabrication facility. In 2012, McKinstry put $2 million into such improvements as a new line for making rectangular ductwork. The new line can produce 60 percent more in the same time as the old one. McKinstry’s goal is to have components delivered to a job site on modular skids without requiring much field fabrication before installation. The results, McKinstry says, are better quality, lower costs, faster delivery and safer job sites.