JumboSack is a leading distributor of bulk bags in a range styles and sizes. David Soyka reports on this minority-owned, St. Louis-based business with over 15 years experience in the packaging industry.
One door closes, another opens and the next thing you know, everything is in the bag. Forgive the mixing of two popular aphorisms, but in the case of JumboSack Corporation, it serves to prove the wisdom of these two old sayings.
In 1990, packaging salesperson Michael Reynoso was told the company he worked for was going out of business. Reynoso started his own company – Cratex Corporation – and convinced the suppliers of his former company to continue to distribute their large container packaging products through Cratex to the St. Louis, Mo. metropolitan area.
One door closed, another opened that put Reynoso’s business literally “in the bag,” as end-users came to favor a new form of packaging, Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers (FIBC), also called, more simply, bulk bags. This led, in 2000, to a separate company dedicated exclusively to bulk bag sales, JumboSack Corporation, with sales and warehouse facilities located in St. Louis.
“The company was founded on an entrepreneurial spirit that continues to define the company,” says Joe Wurm, director of sales and operations. “Today we are an authorized North American distributor of a range of bulk bags in various styles, sizes and applications, including food grade quality.” In addition, JumboSack is also a major supplier of slit fencing, sand bags, baler sheets, mesh bags, seed bags, static-free fabric bags, and a complete line of woven polypropylene air dunnage bags. Customers include such major companies as Pepsi, Rockwood Pigments, Anheuser Busch, Cargill, Nestle and Ralston Purina.
While JumboSack does supply to some Canadian customers, Wurm notes that, “We sell primarily to accounts in the U.S. International drop shipments are just too complicated. There are too many government regulations that differ from country to country that prevent a worthwhile business for us.”
JumboSack is not a manufacturer; rather it imports its bags from India, China, Mexico and Guatemala. One of its prime suppliers is Polyproductos de Guatemala, which is Guatemala’s leading exporter. Its manufacturing operations comprise 14 extruders, 120 weaving looms, six printing/cutting machines and 300 sewing machines, while employing over 700 people full time. Exports to the U.S. constitute about half of its revenues. Polyproductos manufactures woven fabrics, small woven bags, geo-textiles, shade fabric, insect netting, rope, twine, sewing yarn, plastic bags, silt fence and other specialty, proprietary products for which JumboSack is an authorized distributor.
JumboSack also partners with Flexituff International, a top Indian exporter of FIBCs. Flexituff operates the world’s largest integrated clean room FIBC manufacturing facility, located at Indore, in central India. Both of JumboSack’s main suppliers have received ISO certifications and have in-house design and development capabilities. A multilayered quality assurance system ensures zero variance from specifications, while maintaining schedules and productivity at peak levels.
“Different suppliers offer different strengths in terms of product features and functionalities that we can offer to best fit specific customer needs,” Wurm explains. “One big concern for us, of course, is the rising costs of raw materials. Some suppliers are better at managing the expense of acquiring resins than others, so that’s an area where we would make adjustments among our sources, assuming the expected quality of the bag remains at the same high level. Also, we do maintain an inventory, and with oil prices expected to continue to rise, I’m looking to anticipate 2008 demand and have bags in stock at 2007 prices.”
He emphasizes, however, that cost is not the primary competitive differentiator. “We offer added value, in terms of product quality, speed of delivery, customization and support. Sure, cost is always going to be a consideration. But it’s just a part of the overall value proposition, and not typically what drives a buying decision.”
Ready to Go
Indeed, JumboSack has seen sales revenue grow by as much as 65 percent in the last five years. “Some of our sales success can be attributed to our Ready To Go™ (RTG) program, which is designed to fulfill the needs of the small quantity buyer. We service a full spectrum of customers, from small to large. But many companies, even big ones, from farmers to chemical and construction companies, sometimes only need small quantities of bulk bags. We stock thousands of bulk bags in different styles in six different warehouses throughout the U.S. that are ‘ready to go.’ Customers can call in and place an order with a credit card and the bags are shipped out the same day. We believe that we are a leader in the industry in this capability.”
He also notes that “sometimes a customer will come to us with a specific request for a certain type of bulk bag in X quantities. But, just as often, a customer has an application and asks us to come up with the best solution. In addition to supplying the bulk bags themselves, we have in-house design capabilities to create custom graphics if requested. Or, we can execute the customer-provided design.”
JumboSack is also an authorized distributor of CROHMIQ® static protective fabric, manufactured by Texene Packaging Fabrics, a global supplier of high performance quality textiles. CROHMIQ is the leading technology for ungrounded static protective fabrics for safe use in sensitive flammable, vapor and dust atmospheres. “This is a significant growth opportunity for us,” Wurm notes. “Anti-static bags are in much demand for applications within highly flammable environments. Here you don’t want to have a situation where friction sets off a spark and disaster follows; anti-static bags help remove that kind of danger.”
Wurm adds that another growth area is in supplying BOPP (biaxially oriented polypropylene) printed bags, a high definition printed film laminated to a woven polypropylene bag. “We’re finding a lot of demand for these type of bags from big companies such as Wal-Mart. We now have a manufacturer in China for BOPP and we’re in the initial stages securing our first customers for this type of bag.
As a distributor, effective supply chain management is key to ongoing profitability. “JumboSack has aligned itself with leading freight forwarders and customs brokers, such as YRC Worldwide, Yellow Freight, Expeditors International and Customs Express,” Wurm notes. “These partners have helped us stream line our costs in the areas of ocean freight and improved our logistics, thereby improving our lead times for our imports. With online web tracking, our containers are visible from the moment they ship overseas to the delivery to our customer’s warehouse.”
Underpinning the company’s effective supply chain management is a sales and service business philosophy branded by JumboSack as JackFlash™. “It’s not just some mere marketing phrase,”
Wurm points out. “It truly is an attitude that communicates what we do in providing our customers the flexibility of quick access and control over their bulk bag inventory to reduce lead time, freight charges and overall costs in general. To our customers, JackFlash means that we will do whatever we can, as fast as possible to provide a solution to their packaging needs, whatever they may be.”
As an example of JackFlash jumping into action, Wurm cites when the, “Zoltek Corporation needed 50 of a very specific bulk bag the next day or its production lines would be shut down. JumboSack air shipped one of the necessary components of the bag from the U.S. to our supplier in Guatemala; the supplier made the bags immediately and had an employee check the bags as luggage on the next flight back to the U.S. Meanwhile, after selling a full day of work, our salesperson caught the next flight to meet the supplier at the baggage claim at 11 p.m., rented a car and drove until 3 a.m. to deliver the bulk bags in person to Zoltek in time to keep the production lines going.”
Wurm emphasizes that, “We strive to anticipate the needs of our customers; we’re not simply order takers. That, I think, explains why we have such a loyal group of customers. We have a very high customer retention rate because of innovative programs like JackFlash and Ready to Go.”
For JumboSack, when they say, “It’s in the bag,” it truly is.