BALANCE Inc.: An Extraordinary 23 Year Story
LUXE PACK New York 20th Anniversary Pioneers
We are thrilled to be showcasing a very exclusive group of exhibitors who have been part of the 20-year LUXE PACK New York lineage. We are honored to have them continue be part of the invaluable industry legacy that solidifies them as long-running industry packaging players. We would like to introduce them to you individually and therefore welcome you to hone on the special editorial content developed to showcase their own industry legacy and how they plan to continue to contribute to the industry’s next 20.
Article written by Jean-Yves Bourgeois, Co-founder, LUXE PACK & Founder of Formes de Luxe Magazine.
Susan and Frank McDermott, the founders of the American company Balance Inc. that was set-up 23 years ago, can congratulate themselves for having chosen to specialize in the supply of paper and cardboard-based packaging. This type of product is in demand now more than ever. Explanations by Susan McDermott, CEO.
Question: Let’s start with your story! An American success story I believe, you started out with nothing?
Susan McDermott: Correct! My husband Frank and I, created Balance in 2000 in the basement of our home. Here’s an anecdote for you, we exhibited in our first Luxe Pack show in New York as early as February 2003. And we didn’t hire any staff until February 2007. Then, everything went much quicker. At first, we worked with a Taiwanese supplier, then we set up several exclusive partnerships in mainland China. Our wholly owned subsidiary, Dongguan Balance Packaging was opened in November 2018. Three months later, in February 2019, we opened our Showroom on 5th Avenue in New York. Today, we work with factory partners in several regions of the world. Just recently we signed an exclusive agreement with a European manufacturer whose head office is in Brussels, but with production facilities all over Europe. We also intend to bring some of our production back onto American soil.
In 2020, we redesigned our visual identity, creating a new logo and website. After that, we went from strength to strength, commercially, creatively and technically, and in October 2021, we won the Ecovadis silver medal and an award at the Luxe Pack In Green competition organized by Luxe Pack New York. In January 2022, we obtained the FSC Chain of Custody certification. In May 2022, we earned the WBENC certification and then in October of the same year an Ecovadis platinum medal.Over the years, we have adapted our expertise in printed packaging to meet the requirements of a very demanding luxury packaging clientele. We strive to fill the gap in the market for affordable high-end innovations.
Question: How many people do employ today and can you describe your industrial and commercial structure?
Susan McDermott: We employ thirty people in total presently. I mentioned that we have a subsidiary in Dongguan where part of our QA team resides. We have long term industrial partners in China as well as Vietnam, Taiwan, Europe, and the US. Since we set up business, we have truly become a central supplier for high-end certified packaging, with four offices on two continents, allowing us to operate in over a dozen countries with good year-on-year growth.
Question: What are your main markets?
Susan McDermott: We devote all our energy to creating and selling luxury packaging that is mainly paper and cardboard based, for the perfumery and cosmetics industries (70%) as well as for skin care, nail care, certain categories of food products, health, wellness, spirits and even pharmaceutical products. We have a reputation for creativeness and innovation.
Question: What is your position on current issues such as the environment?
Susan McDermott: It is an integral part of our process, and is a fundamental and irreversible trend. It challenges us to aim for the highest standards. Obviously, our top priority is to use systems and substances that are the most environmentally friendly and to offer products of irreproachable quality. The manufacture and use of paper is central to our business, therefore, among other thing, it’s essential for us to be in compliance through an FSC certificate of traceability. This gives us credibility and guarantees that our products come from well-managed forests, controlled sources and reclaimed materials. This is corroborated by the latest EcoVadis Platinum 2022 certificate we obtained.
We have created a sustainability task force that we call our “Balance Green Standard”. It requires us to continually push our boundaries to design innovative yet environmentally friendly packaging solutions to enable our customers to meet their sustainability goals without compromising quality. We look for every possible solution to reduce and replace single-use items with recyclable, reusable and reused materials, as well as find ways to streamline manufacturing and shipping to minimize our carbon footprint. To us, innovation is about creating something that seems impossible, finding new uses for unique materials, making a box more fun to open, or creating a shape that fits a marketing theme perfectly. It’s about inventing something even with a small budget and often with improbable deadlines.
Question: Can you name a few products that you are particularly proud of?
Susan McDermott: Certainly, there’s our Sustainable Palette Collection. Each palette is unique and built entirely out of paper. Some even include paper ribbon! There are a total of 12 different palette concepts in different styles, shapes and sizes that can be adapted to fit whatever you dream up. We designed each palette, keeping the end consumer in mind, allowing for the ease of removing the makeup pans so the palette can be recycled or reused. All paper components are made from FSC certified materials and contain 40% PCR.
Another product we are proud of is our Molded Fiber Shell which is composed of molded fiber (an alternative to molded plastic) and traditional paper. The molded fiber is made from bamboo and bagasse (sugar cane). Within the shell are five paper swivel palettes, each unique in shape with specialty decoration. What’s more, the molded fiber shell is cheaper than its thermoformed plastic equivalent.