History of Custom-Pak Products as told by Jim Berg
Nearly 40 years ago I decided that I wanted to pursue my entrepreneurial dream of owning a small business. I approached my dad, Richard, and asked him, “Dad, I’m interested in starting my own business. Do you have any suggestions?” He quickly and matter-of-factly answered, “Jim, you should make aerosol touch up spray paint.” This short conversation back in 1971 was the spark that lead to the birth of the family business, Custom-Pak Products, Inc.
At the time my Dad, a salesman for a local paint manufacturing firm, was frequently asked by his customers where they could purchase touch up paint. Back then, there wasn’t a good solution for this inquiry – it became apparent that the timing for my entrepreneurial aspirations was perfect. Together Dad and I went to work researching the industry, equipment requirements, and suitable locations to house the new business.
In 1972, Custom-Pak Products was established. We rented a 1,500 sq. ft. shared-space building on 107th Street & Brown Deer Road in Milwaukee, WI. Custom-Pak Products began aerosolizing customer supplied paint in March of 1972, and at that time production capacity was just a few hundred cans per day. We began as, and still are, a family company. Dad worked nights and weekends; my sister, Barbara, managed the office responsibilities; and I did the batching, mixing, sales calls and deliveries. The dream of creating and owning our family business was quickly becoming a reality.
Word of Custom-Pak Products spread and business picked up at a steady pace. In 1974, we acquired the second half of our rental facility, expanding operations to 3,700 feet and also expanding our manufacturing capabilities. We began to do our own formulation work to custom match OEM finishes in aerosol cans and other small touch up containers. By 1975 Custom-Pak Products was manufacturing, packaging and custom labeling touch up paint for many of the large local manufacturing firms (Allis Chalmers, Bolens, Safety-Kleen, Louis Allis Co, RTE Corporation, etc).
Another significant change happened in 1978, when the use of chlorofluorocarbon propellant was banned because of ozone depletion. As a result, we needed to change our propellant from Freon, which is nonflammable, to Hydrocarbon (a blend of propane and butane LP gas) which does not harm the ozone layer but is very flammable. However, this also brought about a more significant change for our young company due to the necessity of outside storage of Hydrocarbon. We needed to relocate the business to ensure safety and compliance. We purchased a plot of land on Edison Drive, in the Germantown, WI industrial park and construction of the 7,000 sq. ft. facility began. This new location would house an automated production line configured for the new Hydrocarbon propellant, outside storage tanks and additional room to grow and expand.
In the late 1970’s we began expanding our product line. One of our high profile customers requested a new packaging medium for touching up small nicks and scratches. We began doing research and development and introduced the ½ oz. brush in lid container. This revolutionary product fit the customer’s needs perfectly and the new product was introduced into the market. The original brush in lid container was a glass bottle with a plastic screw top, much smaller than aerosols, more portable and could fit in small storage areas. Custom-Pak Products is proud to be the originator of the brush in lid touch up paint package for the industrial market. The brush in lid container was an excellent complement to our existing aerosol touch up paints.
Throughout the 1980’s business continued to flourish and we outgrew our facility. In 1988, a 6,000 sq. ft. addition was built, nearly doubling the current space and offering us the ability to expand our operations. Around this time the brush in lid container evolved from a glass vial to a solvent resistant plastic container making it more durable. The new packaging also included a value added wiper insert that made it virtually spill proof along with a better seal resulting in a much longer shelf life.
As time moved on, our business continued to grow. Again in the late 1990’s it was apparent that we needed more space to meet the demands of our growing market share. We decided to build a new facility on a larger parcel of land with room for continued expansion. Construction began on the 25,000 sq. ft. facility in early 2001 and was completed later that year. Custom-Pak Products currently sits upon 4.5 acres of land and was designed so that we have the option of future expansion, allowing for our building to more than double in physical size.
Our new facility has a fire suppression system which uses water and foam to extinguish both flammable liquids and non-chemical fires. We added a state of the art propellant charging house which is monitored electronically 24/7. This equipment can sense a minute gas leak and immediately shut down the flow of product and production completely, preventing any damage. Our facility also houses an energy saving variable speed air compressor system which drives most of the equipment. This system is very eco-friendly and cost effective, allowing Custom-Pak Products to use only the energy that is absolutely needed at any given time. The heat generated by the air compressor’s cooling fan is captured and used to help heat the building in the winter, dramatically reducing heating costs. Likewise, in the summer months, the air is redirected to the outside causing less energy to be used to keep the building cool.
Custom-Pak Products has evolved into a premier full service touch-up paint and liquid packaging business. The automated assembly lines have been built using top of the line technology. Great care is taken to make sure that the lines, as well as all equipment, are properly maintained and serviced. In addition, our entire team possesses extensive knowledge of the industry, products, and regulations, which is vitally important for giving our customers the best products for their needs while keeping them compliant with a variety of state and federal regulations.
Custom-Pak Products remains family owned and operated. We are held accountable to our customers and not a board of directors or investors. There is pride of ownership in each product that leaves our facility. We believe that a solid and lasting business relationship needs to go beyond the basics and we are committed to earning the trust of our customers by manufacturing quality products at competitive prices, while meeting our customers’ deadlines and responding to their requests in a courteous, timely and accurate manner.