Triangular corners work out well for Super Stacker
By Mark Wineka
ROCKWELL — Myron Bostian considers himself a “diagonal” thinker.
It’s another way of saying that Bostian thinks outside the box, especially important in his work as a designer for SupplyOne Inc., which is always looking for better ways to package things.
Bostian designed a solution four years ago for retail display boxes that led to his receiving a patent on the “Super Stacker” creation late last year.
On the wall of the lobby at SupplyOne’s Rockwell plant, a plaque notes that Bostian received Patent No. 7,837,090 for the Super Stacker box.
It was the first patent for both Bostian and the company, headquartered in Devon, Pa. SupplyOne’s Rockwell plant on Palmer Road employs 149 people.
Bostian took about three weeks to come up with a triangular folding solution for the corners of display boxes — the kind holding crew socks, for example — that meant using less corrugated board, yet added considerable strength to the box.
Bostian found a way to use 15 percent less material for the same-sized box. All the structural elements, which were lacking in previous boxes that didn’t hold up well to stacking, were focused on Bostian’s triangular corners.
It put structure where only thin corrugated paper was before.
The new design led to boxes that were four times stronger — thus making them super stackers. It’s common to see these reach-in-and-grab boxes or bins stacked five high along a wall or at the end of a store aisle.
By using less material, SupplyOne reduced its costs at a time when the expense of corrugated liner board was rising dramatically. The increased strength was a side benefit.
Bostian’s solution also helped the company reduce prices to its customers, such as Kayser-Roth Hosiery, which were in turn being pressured by retailers such as Walmart and Costco to keep costs in check while improving the quality of their packaging.
“Our customers were getting the squeeze,” says Bill Harris, a manufacturer’s representative.
In addition, there was a simple “green” benefit in using less corrugated board — and environmentally conscious customers are demanding that more often, SupplyOne President Kevin O’Brien says.
How strong are the boxes now? You could probably place a board across the top and stand on one without its caving in. SupplyOne had strength tests conducted at Clemson University, and the Super Stacker has become a standard against which others are measured.
The new design also eliminated a crease or separation line in the front of the boxes, allowing for cleaner graphics. Bostian adds that because the box is the same size, some $70,000 worth of printing plates were able to be saved.
Vicki Poole, who handles human resources for the Rockwell plant, said the Super Stacker has led to $2 million in sales for the company since its creation.
O’Brien says the patent is an important thing to have in an industry where SupplyOne has 20 to 25 competitors.
“Like any patent, it’s to protect us and our intellectual property,” he adds.
Bostian calls the patent — the Super Stacker carried the “patent pending” label for several years — “a bucket list thing for me personally.”
“You’ve got to be proud of it,” he says.
Bostian grew up in Kannapolis, attended school at Northwest Cabarrus High and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and ran his own cut-and-die operation that did business with SupplyOne until he joined the Rockwell plant 16 years ago.
He lives in Gold Hill today.
“This is a company effort,” Bostian says of the Super Stacker. “The people here care about one another. … It’s a good company to work with.”
SupplyOne has 16 manufacturing facilities in the country and advertises itself as a leader in packaging solutions. The Rockwell plant has been operating since 1988 and is unique in that it is both a manufacturing facility and a distribution center. It specializes in corrugated and foam packaging.
At the Rockwell plant, Bostian and SupplyOne have four other packaging patents in the works.
One involves a wine box that is specially folded so it doesn’t use tape.
For Ingersoll Rand, SupplyOne also has developed a honeycomb, corrugated design for packaging 90-pound air starters for trains that eliminates foam packing elements.
Again, it’s a greener approach.
Sides emphasizes the “solutions” aspect of SupplyOne aiming to improve its customers’ profits through a customized approach, such as the Super Stacker.
“Nothing out there can’t be changed” through a different thought process or with the help of technology, the diagonally thinking Bostian says.
“Don’t give up — there’s another way to skin a cat,” he adds.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@ salisburypost.com