It was three years ago when Mike LeClair, General Manager of United Paper Box Co. in Holyoke, Massachusetts, began to learn what makes Colter & Peterson North America’s foremost authority of paper cutters and paper handling equipment. Needing to replace a fading paper cutter, LeClair chose a new 45” Saber® X-15 cutter with Microcut® that was so impressive he added a second unit six weeks ago. Both have transformed his business.
“With the new machines we are cutting six-plus inches of material at a time and have boosted our production 75%. It took our daily production to the levels I really need,” replied LeClair, who manages 37 full-time employees and a team of temporary workers at the nearly 80-year-old, family-owned rigid set-up box and custom packaging manufacturer.
United Paper Box has achieved its success by adapting to change. Holyoke once was a mill town and home to 26 paper mills along the Connecticut River. Manufacturing pie rings and paperboard packaging when it first opened in 1937, they added rigid packaging of typewriter and bakery boxes in the 1940s and 1950s and branched out to include greeting card and apparel boxes in the 1960s and 1970s. Retail and software packaging followed in the 1980s and 1990s; custom packaging, cosmetic and luxury products such as leather goods and shoes have since followed.
“We are in the same location with two, five-story buildings,” says LeClair in reference to the 80,000 square-feet of work space in this western Massachusetts town of about 40,000, located just north of Springfield. “We get 68% of our electricity supplied via power generated by the Holyoke dam. The materials we use are 100% recycled fibers and we also recycle all our of our paper and chipboard waste.”
In spring 2012, LeClair needed more capacity that he couldn’t get from an old 32” POLAR cutter. Not familiar with the latest paper cutters, he spoke with local companies and learned about C&P.
“I spoke with Bruce Peterson and he’s a straight shooter. He listened to me about our situation and it was the easiest equipment purchase I’ve been involved with, especially the installation,” recalled LeClair, who began working at the company 34 years ago while in high school.
”They have a top notch crew that was here early, stayed late and had our best interests in mind. It wasn’t easy; they had to dismantle the Saber at the factory and reassemble it because the machine couldn’t weigh more than 6,000 lbs. for the elevator ride to the second floor. It was really crucial that they had us up and running very quickly because the POLAR had just quit working. And they did the same thing last month with the new Saber when we replaced a 42” Challenge. We were up and running in three days.”
Saber X-15 cutters, when combined with the Microcut automated back gauge system, make an operation more efficient. State-of-the-art technology gives operators all they need, memorizing cutting sequences and positioning the back gauge blade for cuts within fractions of an inch and automated, touch-button control. These benefits are making a difference for LeClair, including the ability to transfer cutting sequences to either knife via a USB device using CIP 3/4 files.
“We cut heavy weight board and printed sheets, and the Saber is a real workhorse. We now trim board at triple the rate because I can load up to 6” of material at a time,” says LeClair, who runs both machines usually between 8-10 hours a day, five days a week. “We do a lot of binders for a range of customers, including New York City based ad agencies and network television companies. They know us from the work we did for many high profile customers. We also do a lot of box work for shoe manufacturers and the high-end packaging market.”
The double pull feature and dual drives are major benefits for LeClair’s operation.
“The dual gear box drives are important since most cutters have only one arm driving the knife. The Sabers allow you to cut full size with no lag and that is huge since our tolerance is very small. The pressure difference is key. A wide sheet needs more pressure and smaller needs less, especially if it’s embossed. Having the ability to adjust the pressure on a 28” x 40” sheet is really nice. The knife can trim to match the box line and then I can foil stamp it. The registration on these machines is outstanding as well.”