SPIRITED COMPETITORS OF GCI CONVERTING (COVER STORY)
Expansion and equipment purchases have readied General Converting, Inc. to provide strong value-added services in 2002.
by Susan Friedman, Editor
Carton converters and equipment manufacturers alike have steadily touted the need for converters to implement more complete services; develop value-added products; and establish strong market niches in order to avoid commoditization and achieve higher margins.
General Converting, Inc. (GCI), based in Bolingbrook, Ill., is more than a textbook example of these carton production strategies at work. In addition to continually building the value of its printing and converting services with new equipment investments, the company has established unique service philosophies to maximize customers' comfort level and satisfaction with the work provided.
For starters, employees don't have titles. Each is cross-trained in several areas of company operations to ensure expedited production orders. In a further effort to provide customers with quick-response, personalized service, incoming calls are always directed to a "live" person, not voice mail.
GCI was founded in 1982 as a small converting operation outfitted with cutting and gluing equipment, located in a Bridgeview, Ill., half-bay warehouse. The company moved into its current 122,000-sq. ft. facility in Bolingbrook in 2000. That same year, Robert W. Ruebenson took over ownership from the founders of the company—his parents, Robert F. and Shirley V. Ruebenson.
Under Ruebenson's leadership, technology investments have expanded capacity and strengthened GCI's ability to provide more complete and more specialized converting services. Company sales grew 15 percent from 2000 to 2001, with business showing particular strength in the frozen food, confectionery, health and beauty, writing instrument, plastics, and computer markets.
With the construction of its new facility completed in 2000, GCI purchased a new Heidelberg six-color LYL sheetfed offset press, employing twin tower coaters for the in-line application of tinted metallic and high gloss UV coatings, to complement its two existing Heidelberg presses. Also in 2000, a fourth Vega folder/gluer joined GCI's cadre of carton finishing equipment, along with a glue detection system, a label applicator (for in-line and off-line application), and a bar code reader. In the last year, a third Bobst diecutter joined the production line.