Leader of the Pack

Cardinal reinvents itself with focus on fulfillment

Published: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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(H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Cardinal Pack forklift operator Lori Berge drives to pick up another pallet of packaging in the Crystal Lake facility.
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(H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Cardinal Pack employees Ben Rehberg and Emma Afeld package Phillips starters for fluorescent lamps at the facility in Crystal Lake.
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(H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Cardinal Pack employee Kyle Bellon stacks sealed cartons for shipping.
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(H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com)
Phillips starters for fluorescent lamps move on a conveyor for packaging at Cardinal Pack.

CRYSTAL LAKE ­ The owners of Cardinal Pack in Crystal Lake weren’t immune to the damaging effects the economic downturn in the late-2000s had on businesses and manufacturers across the country.

The packaging company headquartered at 300 Exchange Drive in Crystal Lake saw a drop-off in sales between 2007 and 2009, as many manufacturers and retailers that did business with Cardinal Pack cut back their resources in the face of economic turmoil.

Nearly four years after the brunt of the recession, the company now has reached a business renaissance. Cardinal Pack recently expanded operations in Wisconsin, diversified its operations and has begun adding staff with the goal for future growth across the Midwest.

“We were proactive,” said Cardinal Pack President Julie Wancket, reflecting on the recession. “Our sales were down. The market became extremely competitive; therefore, we diversified.”

In 2009, the company’s first step toward its reinvention was to consolidate two facilities in the area into one and create Cardinal Pack’s headquarters in Crystal Lake. The move streamlined business operations and added efficiencies to a company that has had a presence in the McHenry County area dating to the late 1970s, Wancket said.

Shortly after the consolidation, the company added services through increased fulfillment orders with clients. Cardinal Pack works with area retailers, manufacturers and distributors, who ship products to the company to be assembled and packaged before being sold.

The focus on fulfillment diversified the company and positioned Cardinal Pack for future growth, Wancket said.

So far, the change has paid off.

The company in 2012 exceeded sales from the prior year, Wancket said. For 2013, the company is projecting 12 percent growth from last year.

“We are definitely on a growth trajectory,” she said.

The increased sales following the recession also has rippled down to other areas. Cardinal Pack opened an office and warehouse space in January in Sussex, Wis.

They are looking to strengthen its sales staff, following the addition of nearly a dozen new staffers in other departments during the past two years.

The company also has ratcheted investment in its infrastructure, buying new packaging equipment to feed increased demand.

The post-recession business success recently culminated with a market rebranding, as the company now will focus its time on expanding existing markets. The company unveiled a new, concise “Cardinal Pack” logo, with the tagline “design, distribution, fulfillment.”

The rebranding captures the company’s added services in a snazzy way to captivate customers, said Des Crocker, vice president for sales and marketing.

“We really needed something that people could see and remember quickly,” Crocker said. “The design, distribution and fulfillment is who we are.”

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