Customer Education, Product Rebranding Prove Key for Boise Paper
SPLOX Box and a Range of Partnerships Also Contributing to Company’s Future
Boise Paper, which was acquired by Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) in 2013, is the third largest uncoated free-sheet manufacturer in the United States. With three mills (International Falls, Minnesota; Jackson, Alabama; Wallula, Washington) and a 2015 revenue of about $1.15B, Boise Paper represents approximately 20 percent of PCA’s sales. PCA is the fourth largest U.S. container-board manufacturer, with five container-board mills and 93 converting plants, while Boise Paper is a fully owned subsidiary of PCA, with an independent sales and marketing organization. Boise Paper offers a wide variety of office papers, along with envelope, commercial printing, and pressure sensitive label papers. According to Mary Ignas, Boise Paper’s Senior Director of Marketing, “Boise Paper has grown and taken share over the last half decade, despite the office and printing papers market declining at about 3 percent per year.”
All Good Things Come in Threes
At the start of 2015, Boise Paper launched “Paper with Purpose”, its new brand identity to tie everything together under one umbrella. Specifically, Boise Paper wanted to not only improve communication with but to more clearly convey its value proposition—Performance, Collaboration, Sustainability—to its customers. These areas have been at the company’s core for a long time, but through marketing, increased engagement and ongoing education, Boise Paper is investing to help people understand these values on a deeper level.
“We’re always working on cost and quality improvement opportunities at our mills,” Ignas said. “However, we believe we can truly differentiate ourselves through our ‘Paper with Purpose’ value proposition. We are also exclusively made in the USA, which is important to support local jobs.”
Succinctly, Performance is about delivering quality products and creative solutions to meet customer needs. The obvious proof of this: Based on years of in-house and Buyers Lab testing, the company offers a “99.9% Jam Free Guarantee” on its core office products, including Boise X-9®, Boise POLARIS® Multipurpose and Boise ASPEN® 30% Recycled papers.
A key component of Collaboration is how Boise works with customers on supply chain initiatives that allow them to put less inventory on their floor and, in turn, boost working capital. Another area is the Quality Feedback Report, which is a customer feedback vehicle. “We input every customer quality interaction into our comprehensive database,” said Geo Plumberg, Boise Paper’s Product Manager. “Boise relies on the information we receive from our end users to quickly pinpoint the issue and address the root cause.
“Our clients have been great about letting us know how our products perform in the field,” Plumberg continued. “They know Boise values their feedback and takes it seriously. When they request it, we supply a corrective action plan to rectify their concern.”
Educating customers on the proper process for storing, handling and loading paper falls under Collaboration, too. As Plumberg explained, if the storage and printing environment doesn’t have the proper temperature and humidity, it can lead to printing and binding issues. “Paper should be acclimated for at least 24 hours in a climate controlled environment and fanned prior to loading into the equipment,” she said. “It’s our job to provide the message on maximizing runnability through smart paper habits.”
“Boise Paper has grown and taken share over the last half decade, despite the office and printing papers market declining at about 3 percent per year.” –Mary Ignas
Last but certainly not least—it may be the most critical, in fact—is investing time and resources for an economically and environmentally sustainable future. Boise Paper no longer owns forestland, rather it works closely with land owners to ensure they follow recognized FSC or SFI forest certification procurement standards. Project UP™, a joint venture between Boise Paper and the Arbor Day Foundation, has worked in communities throughout North America (including Baltimore, Indianapolis, Miami and Toronto) to turn abandoned urban areas into neighborhood parks. Since 2011, Boise Paper’s Project UP initiative has funded the planting of thousands of trees during National NeighborWoods Month. “We strive to communicate the importance of trees, support local economies and connect with communities,” Ignas said.
The Challenge of SPLOX
Believe it or not, the SPLOX® SPEED LOADING BOX® was introduced a dozen years ago. SPLOX delivers a 5-ream carton of paper with no ream wrappers. It’s sturdy and strong, reusable and recyclable, not to mention shippable. The box has an ergonomic factor too, with a proprietary handle. There is no other package available that combines all of these attributes. Like with an MFP control panel or a software interface, ease of use is critical with SPLOX—and it does exactly that, boosting efficiency while keeping the paper more protected than a torn wrapper can.
“Some businesses have been using the box for years, but the switch isn’t a simple one,” Ignas said. “Customers don’t always understand that a SPLOX box can protect the paper, as well as providing efficiency and ergonomic benefits. It’s difficult to see the value unless you use the product. We bring the box to events and people get very excited when they see how it works. It’s not a passive sale, we have to show the functionality. That’s helping turn the tide, and we had a very good 2015 in terms of educating users about SPLOX.”
The Power of Partners
Charitable and community support is a core value of Boise Paper. Along with its partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, Boise Paper also partners with the American Red Cross and General Mills Box Tops for Education. Since 2011, Boise Paper has funded over $10M to locals schools through the Box Tops program. And its unique paper partnership with the Red Cross helps to offset administrative costs, so more dollars can go directly to critical humanitarian efforts. These partnerships are a natural extension of the “Paper with Purpose” focus.
Additionally, Ignas cited that developing relationships and increasing engagement with OEMs is a goal for the company. Ultimately, Boise would like to be on as many qualified paper lists as possible; in fact, the company just got into Canon’s pigment inkjet media guide for the first time and has three paper types certified with HP ColorLok Technology.
The Boise Cut-Sheet Media Menu
“As part of our rebranding initiative, we simplified how we present our office papers so it would be easier for customers to understand our range of papers and the best product for their use,” Ignas said. As such, Everyday and Premium categories were created, with varying degrees of brightness and smoothness, including support for letter-, legal- and ledger-size paper (about half of letter media also comes 3-hole punched), and compatibility with laser and/or inkjet devices.
Not surprisingly, Boise X-9, which is designed for everyday office use, is the bread and butter of the company’s sales. On the Premium side of the fence, Boise POLARIS has had significant growth over the past few years and now has a full line of premium products including Color Copy, Laser, Inkjet, and Multipurpose. Boise Paper also has a color line called FIREWORX®—with colors like Crackling Canary, Jammin’ Salmon and Pumpkin Glow, to name a few—for customers looking to add “pop” to their work. Recycled paper is also a key focus of Boise Paper’s, with its ASPEN line offering 30%, 50% and 100% post-consumer recycled content for multiuse copy, as well as Premium recycled Laser and Color Copy products.
Plumberg stated that every paper type Boise Paper makes goes through rigorous testing, but educating customers about the high level of performance of recycled products remains a priority. Boise Paper’s recycled products have the same standards and runnability as virgin papers. For instance, the Alabama mill takes in post-consumer waste, after which it’s de-inked and then used in the ASPEN brands. “Virgin paper versus recycled is really a non-issue because the results are virtually equal, with the same level of cleanliness and brightness,” she said. “There might be a few specks on 50% and 100% recycled media, but most people have a hard time believing the 30% paper is recycled due to how clean it looks.”
Choosing the Right Paper
Ignas stresses to organizations that they should focus on the end result, how output will look on the page, and offers the following quick tips:
● For full-color brochures, flyers or handouts that need to have a professional look and feel, select a heavy-weight Premium Color Copy paper.
● When you need professional results without full-color coverage, choose a Premium paper specifically designed for the type of printer you’re using (Boise POLARIS Laser or Inkjet, for example).
● For internal presentations and other important documents that require clean, crisp printing with limited color coverage, select a high-performing Multipurpose paper.
● For Everyday office and high-speed, high-volume printing, a Multi-Use Copy paper is the way to go (X-9 with the 99.9% Jam Free guarantee).
● When your kids want to draw and color pictures or fold paper airplanes, go with the generic no-brand ream.
These tips and many more are available on Boise Paper’s website.