From garden shed, to major employer
A Midlands family business which has grown to now employ 50 people after launching from a garden shed is marking its 25th anniversary.
On the back of a raft of new client wins, Walsall based allpack Packaging is now on the verge of seeing its annual turnover break the £20 million milestone for the first time.
The achievement is a far cry from the company’s early days, when it was launched by founder Jim Clarke from the back office of his accountancy practice in Chester Road, Sutton Coldfield.
As the business grew, it increased its storage potential first by building a wooden outhouse in the garden at Jim’s home – and then renting around 14 lock up garages.
After outgrowing its headquarters four times since then, it is now based at Middlemore Lane West, Aldridge, where warehouse capacity now tops 50,000 square feet.
With more than 5000 lines of different packaging products, it now supplies customers every year with over 10,000 tonnes of film, 600 square metres of tape, and 100,000 kilometres of strapping – enough to go around the world two and a half times.
Among the household names that feature on its growing portfolio of blue chip clients are Dunelm, Travis Perkins, Wickes, Mazda and Volvo
Silver jubilee: allpack’s founder and chief executive, Jim Clarke (top centre) with fellow directors (clockwise) Marcus Clarke, Bob Clarke and George Clarke.
‘Thanks to the support of or clients, and the hard work and home grown Midlands skills of our team, the company has flourished to be a very different one to its early days,’ said Jim.
‘I pinch myself when I think back to when we started our family firm back in 1994, when it was run just by myself and my daughter as secretary and bookkeeper.
‘A quarter of a century on, we are proud to be still meeting the needs of our inaugural set of clients – a long standing partnership that fills me with great pride.’
Jim’s working day often began before daybreak with a drive – in a rattling old Ford Escort estate pulling a trailer – to suppliers in Worcester and Nottingham to collect stock; returning home to hand deliver it to customers, before going out selling again.
In the afternoon, he would tend to his accountancy practice. ‘I remember it as a year of other memorable openings for the UK as a whole – the Channel Tunnel was inaugurated; laws were passed enabling shops to open their doors on a Sunday; and the National Lottery was launched,’ he added.
‘At the time, our new venture seemed to have its own share of similar challenges – and funny moments, although they did not seem so at the time.
‘One that sticks in my mind was when we went to collect stock from Nottingham, and returning with rolls of bubblewrap strapped to our small trailer. A great idea, or so we thought, until the car broke down on the motorway!
‘All of that seems a light year from our business today and while we have stayed strong to our local roots, we now have a global portfolio of clients and suppliers.’
As it enters its silver jubilee year, allpack Packaging now employs no fewer than 50 people at its new headquarters, which was recently upgraded and now includes a product innovation hub.
‘Crucially, that personal touch and great customer service that was born out of my early morning drives towing a trailer, still exists at the heart of allpack in 2019,’ Jim said.
‘The current scale of the operation demonstrates just how far we have travelled as a company, and we are already looking at ways of moving to bigger premises to keep pace with ever increasing demand.
‘None of this would have been possible without the loyalty of all our customers and we thank them all for their support and look forward to helping them to continue growing their businesses in the future.’
To celebrate the birthday, allpack Packaging has put together a range of exclusive price discounts, promotions, and webinars to help clients share in the achievement. There will also be a client open day when it will launch its brand new demonstration centre.