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Turning Trash Into Treasure

EnviroPAK Enjoys Triple-Digit Growth By Repurposing Recycled Paper

by Julia Paulus

In 1987, after building an expertise in forms manufacturing and distribution, Chris Miget and two partners started FRI Resources, a business printing distributor providing services including commercial printing, promotional products and custom documents. Surrounded by paper products, Miget eventually began to examine how he could repurpose recycled paper to benefit both the environment and consumers.

He soon determined that he could in fact repurpose his paper into a reusable product. In 1995 he paired with investors and the U.S. Small Business Administration to launch his second entrepreneurial venture, EnviroPAK. The focus of EnviroPAK was to provide businesses with sustainable molded pulp packaging solutions that are cost-efficient, space-saving and environmentally friendly. “Molded pulp as a material has been around 100 years, beginning with uses like egg crates,” says Bryon Crump, EnviroPAK’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We took that product and incorporated our engineering. We learned what wasn’t working for our customers and solved those issues by listening and creating products around what they wanted.”

EnviroPAK shipped its first product, lightbulb trays, in early 1996. While the company steadily moved forward with its mission through the 2000s, by 2012 its growth had begun to explode. At the same time Miget, who had sold FRI Resources in 2009 but stayed on actively through 2012, began looking for a new business opportunity. “I wanted to get into another business but didn’t want to work for anyone else,” he says. “I wanted to work at EnviroPAK to use my experience to grow it – not just be a passive investor.”

A passive investor since its founding, Miget rejoined EnviroPAK as its president on April 1, 2013. He has since used his industry and business expertise to lead the company to the 101% growth it has achieved each year over the past two years.

With the addition of Crump’s 20-plus years of experience in the paper and packaging industry, EnviroPAK has continued to improve its processes. “What has changed with us is the flexibility on how we do it,” says Crump. “Tooling has become faster and cheaper in making molded products. We excel because our team now gets products to market as fast as possible. We are second to none.”

Another key to EnviroPAK’s sudden growth is that the consumer now has more knowledge of what “sustainable” means, according to the partners. “They ask, ‘You say this is recycled, but I want to know what that means,’” says Miget. “So manufacturers are looking at the true life cycle of packaging. Molded fiber pulp is made from newspaper, so you know consumers can turn around and recycle it.”

EnviroPAK’s customers run the gamut, from leading telecommunications and subscriber service brands to medical devices, business-to-business companies and household manufacturers. “Imagination is the limitation to products we can design,” says Crump.

The EnviroPAK product is further supported by the company’s strategic advantage of being in the middle of the country. “We strongly believe in our distribution model,” says Miget. “We provide complete supply chain solutions to the end user. Our strategic advantage is that we’re in St. Louis. Because of this we can reach 70% of hubs in the U.S. in 48 hours.”

Both the company’s technology and its geography bring value to distributor partners, demonstrated by how quickly products get to market. “We’re innovative while making decisions that make business and economic sense,” says Miget.

That said, the partners have not stopped feeling the pressure to continually improve. “Just like every aspect for consumers, it’s speed to market and bringing this value to our distributor partners,” he says. “People don’t want to wait.”

EnviroPAK has had a two-year run of triple-digit growth, and the future is exciting. The partners hope people see that both recycling and manufacturing are alive, well and happening now in Earth City. Crump believes this is only the beginning.

“In the immediate future, I see a resurgence of U.S. manufacturing,” he says. “More and more products are being brought back to the U.S. for manufacturing.”

Long term, the partners look to continue to push the century-old technology. “It has packaged eggs to electronic devices,” says Crump. “We continue to push the technology to improve its finish and appearance and the function of the product. We have an open mind-set toward what it can do instead of keeping our process the same.”

EnviroPAK is even seeing the mind-set of big-box stores moving from old ways to new. “They’re becoming more environmentally friendly in terms of packaging,” says Miget. “They use to just put a recycled logo on everything but couldn’t solidify the claims. With consumer questioning and demand for sustainable, retailers – who are choosing between A and B – are choosing sustainable. There is a big push in that.”


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