Dan Shedd and Taylor Box Company
It might be said of Dan Shedd that, recently, his mind’s eye has become very curvaceously inclined.
But before we go venturing off into unintended territory, perhaps we should clarify that the curves Dan is showing off are the ones his new Curve Technology manufacturing process is turning out at his longtime family business, Taylor Box Company.
The Taylor story is one of those classic American evolutionary tales of a small- business enterprise’s journey. Located in the charming seaside community of Warren, Rhode Island, Taylor is a third-generation, family-owned design manufacturer of specialty packaging and other related products. Founded in 1885 by Clarence Taylor, the one room, 5-employee box-making company was purchased by Dan’s grandfather in 1922. Ownership was later passed down to Dan’s father, Martin, and eventually to Dan. Along with his brother, Dave, they have been working in the family business since their early teens, with a little time out for high school and college. Today, Dan serves as Taylor’s “President, CEO and bank debtor,” as he wittily describes his role, and Dave is the resident design-engineering alchemist.
With 55,000 square feet and 35 regular employees, Taylor designs and manufactures custom packaging. A five-person design studio team pumps out custom designs, which are then made production-ready using an Esko Artwork Digital Pre-Press Workflow Graphics machine with a full CAD system, enabling die layouts and builds from CAD drawings. The Esko then feeds the designs into a sophisticated Kongsberg cutter sample maker.
“We’re a multi-step packaging partner for our clients, providing both original construction and design as well as collaborative construction through our design studio,” Dan explains. Taylor manufactures a broad array of packaging and packaging components in their factory, including rigid, lift-off cover setup boxes; slipcases; and a whole host of hybrid, specialty rigid packaging. “That includes slipcases mounted inside of panel folders, trays with multiple inserts, die-cut foam and other materials manipulated to accept different sorts of products and messages,” Dan explains. They also do binders, folders, menus and other turned-edge casework. The operation is entirely “B-to-B,” Dan notes. “We don’t have any proprietary products; everything we make is custom, and I should add that we’re doing a lot of wildly imaginative packaging for our clients.”
Dan is particularly proud of Taylor Box’s latest addition, a toolset-based innovation that enables his company to machine-produce curved edges for binders, folders and other packaging components. As simple as it might sound, the curve technology represents a major leap forward in packaging design. Previously, Dan explains, curved edges required cutting by hand with an X-Acto® knife and hand gluing – a laborious, time-consuming process that was also very expensive. The Curve simplifies the process at speeds competitive with standard case making. “We have transformed a historically hand-made process into a high speed automated one,” Dan notes. “At present, we’re the only company in the U.S. with the capability to produce these configurations.”
His creative business model has worked. Dan and company are known and respected throughout the U.S. for crafting innovative packaging solutions for world-class brands. “You can trust us to create packaging solutions that build value for your brand, whether you bring us polished renderings or something sketched on a napkin, we have the knowledge and experience to get the job right,” Dan says with pride. His philosophy is in lockstep with that of FiberMark, which has been a longtime “partner” of and supplier to Taylor Box. As Dan has expressed, FiberMark’s innovative covering materials and world-class packaging solutions are definitely in synch with his own and a positive element in his business mix. “The Curve manufacturing process requires a paper that has some elasticity, and that’s an important feature of the FiberMark covering materials we use. It’s a tremendous property of the material.”
Drawing in the Designers
Taylor’s new capability was introduced at the recent HOW Design Conference in Boston, where Taylor Box representatives presented visitors to their booth with a Curve Project design kit [created using one of FiberMark’s covering materials -- Silktouch Nuba by Skivertex®], inviting them to use the kit to submit sketches that integrated curves into a packaging design. They ended up with scores of original designs. “It’s a unique, distinctive design element that you can add to the package, giving it a different look and feel. It’s a physical element that integrates nicely with a graphic design, expanding a graphic designer’s ability to incorporate a little more ‘pop’ into their presentations,” Dan adds.
“Since the HOW Conference, a day does not go by when we don’t get an inquiry about the ‘Curve’,” Dan says. “It’s only been operational for a few months, and we’re already running case-making projects with it.” It’s an exciting element for a package designer,” he says, “and really rewarding to see how many projects are beginning to flow out of our introductory presentation of this technology. Our message to designers is simple: ‘think curvaceously’!”