Out of the box

80 Hugo Johnston Dr, Penrose

“Think about the box your new i-Phone came in,” says Rodger Eaton, Managing Director of Boxkraft. “It’s not just protecting the product, it’s presenting it. The packaging is integral to the purchase experience.”

Rodger bought Boxkraft in 2007. He says it was a well-established business (founded in 1948) with solid production credentials. “The opportunity I could see was to grow a reputation among New Zealand’s innovative small to medium enterprises: to become part of their marketing team. I wanted to help them make better use of packaging to grow their sales.”

“We leave the pallet loads of corrugated shipping cartons to the multi-nationals,” says Rodger. “Our focus is smaller runs of more complicated packaging: often requiring hand-finishing. Our clients include some of New Zealand’s top wineries, as well as honey producers and cosmetic companies and they come to us because they don’t want to talk to a sales rep with an order book, they want to sit down with a team of packaging and printing experts who ask good questions and come up with innovative solutions.”

Rodger’s strategy is working: Boxkraft has grown significantly since he took it on. As a consequence, they outgrew their old premises. “We got to the stage where the factory and office were too small,” says Rodger. “But also, there wasn’t room to turn a truck and nowadays we can have several B-trains coming and going every day. There was no canopy, and there wasn’t enough power: we were out of amps! But we wanted to stay in Penrose, because that worked for our staff, and for our clients.” It was time for Boxkraft to find a new box.

Enter – or in this case, exit – Sistema. Also in the packaging business (they make the click-shut food storage containers now found in kitchens around the world), and also on a growth trajectory, Sistema had recently moved from their premises in Hugo Johnson Drive, Penrose, to a newly built, larger plant in Mangere.

The Hugo Johnson site was now owned and being marketing by industrial property specialists, PFI. “Brendan Lindsay, who’d started the Sistema business in his garage, had offered us the premises in an off-market deal,” says PFI General Manager, Simon Woodhams. “We were able to facilitate their transition and add to our portfolio a cluster of high quality industrial premises in a premium location.”

Sistema’s departure was perfect timing for Boxkraft. “We now have 2,700m2 of factory space and 600m2 of office space,” says Rodger Eaton. “We have easy trucking access, with a canopy, and plenty of power. It’s a lovely street, the staff really like it here, and it’s ideally located for customers and suppliers. This is going to suit us for some time to come.”

Simon Woodhams sees the whole process as a perfect illustration of PFI’s contribution to New Zealand’s industrial economy. “It’s obviously just a coincidence that Sistema and Boxkraft are both in packaging, but it’s no coincidence that they are both entrepreneurial businesses that are successful and expanding.”

“Our role is to facilitate growth,” he says. “Because we specialise in industrial property, we know what a company such as Boxkraft is likely to be looking for when they’re ready for somewhere new. It’s about having the right premises, in the right location and making sure the numbers stack up. It’s why we’ve now almost completed re-letting the entire Sistema complex.”

“I can see a parallel,” says Rodger Eaton, “between what PFI do and what Boxkraft does. To the uninitiated perhaps, a box is a box, whether it’s made from cardboard in our case, or from steel in PFI’s case, but we know, and PFI know, that the clever bit is delivering a fit-for-purpose solution. We both succeed when what we do helps our customers be more successful at what they do.”

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