1998 C. Taylor Kew Leadership Award
The Power of Packaging
As chairman of the board of the National Paperbox Association, Ted Frain, Jr. preached the "power of packaging and the packaging association."
By Dawn Whalen
GOOD RELATIONSHIPS with his family, his customers and even his competitors have led Ted Frain, Jr., founder and former president of Unipak, and this year's recipient of the National Paperbox Association's (NPA) C. Taylor Kew Leadership Award, to be well respected in the paperbox industry.
"My father is very optimistic, very sales oriented, very customer service and customer oriented," says his son and vice president of Unipak, Stephen Frain. "The relationship he had with customers was very important to him. He really enjoyed working with them. It was fun for him. He'd probably shake his head now because customer relationships don't seem to be as important as they once were."
The younger Frain says a regular business habit his father practiced was to frequently take customers golfing. "Things were different back then. He was good at entertaining [to build relationships] and his customers expected it."
After Frain served as a pilot in WWII, he returned to Pennsylvania and in the early '50s began working at Downingtown Paperbox Co., a folding carton company. In the course of 10 years there he was promoted to sales manager, then general manager. But his big break in the box industry came in 1968 when the company was sold. It was at that point that he had the opportunity to buy Pottstown Paperbox. Five years later he parlayed that successful venture into a second when he acquired Westchester Paperbox and subsequently consolidated the two to form Unipak, a set-up box converter that today has 50 employees and is headed by his son, Ted Frain III, himself a second-generation NPA board chairman.
Throughout the 1970s and early '80s Frain continued to build Unipak's scope and impact on the market. At a time when the set-up box industry was just beginning to see a marked decline, he wisely added a folding carton division to Unipak in 1982, which afforded the small converting operation inroads into the confectionary, candy, pharmaceutical, computer and hardware industries.