Better Packages in Ansonia: “100 years young, and 100 years strong.”

May 25, 2017

ANSONIA >> Improving upon an early invention by Thomas Edison that sealed boxes, cartons and other packages with water-activated tape, rather than twine, has helped Better Packages reach a milestone 100 years in business.

A celebration to mark the company’s century-old mark in the manufacturing industry took place Thursday at Better Packages’ corporate headquarters on Hershey Drive. About 150 people, including local dignitaries, company officials and employees gathered under a massive white tent inside the facility that’s being expanded to mark the monumental occasion.

Founded in 1917 by brothers Alfred and Theodore Kruger in Brooklyn, New York, the company developed and marketed equipment to make more efficient use of Edison’s then-five-year-old invention of water-activated tape.

According to its website, “Water-activated tape (WAT), also known as gummed tape, is a form of paper tape with a water-based chemical adhesive that is reactivated by water. Water-activated tape can be found in plain Kraft paper for light cartons or with several layers of paper and reinforcement for heavy parcels. When the water-activated adhesive is applied to a carton, a capillary action bonds the tape to the carton. This permanent bond is tamper-resistant and tamper-evident. WAT is not affected by dirt, dust, oil or extreme temperature environments.”

To be closer to a bustling industry along the Bridgeport to Waterbury manufacturing corridor, Better Packages moved to Canal Street in Shelton in 1924.

The company remained in Shelton until 2014, when it moved to its present-day headquarters in Ansonia to a larger, more efficient 35,000-square-foot facility, employing nearly 50 full- and part-time workers.

Better Packages’ water-activated tape dispenser worldwide market share exceeds 75 percent, and its client list has grown to include some of the world’s most prominent companies that ship direct to consumers including Amazon, QVC, L.L. Bean, Neiman Marcus and JCPenney. To date, 500,000 Better Packages’ dispensers are in service in more than 70 countries, and thanks to the advent of e-commerce sales, which have increased the number of cartons being shipped worldwide, Better Packages keeps growing. The company in 2015 became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intertape Polymer Group, the world’s largest manufacturer of water-activated tape.

CEO Phil White, who has led the company for more than 20 years, said staying in business for 100 years wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful employees serving as the company’s backbone.

“We’re 100 years young, and 100 years strong, and our growth has never been stronger,” said White.

White ran down the company’s impressive list of stats built up over the last century, which included manufacturing more than 20 million pounds of plastic, 58 million pounds of steel and 200 million nuts, screws and fasteners to make its dispensers. More than 200 million dispensers have sealed 15 billion packages, with more than 100 million miles of tape, he said.

“This little company in Ansonia is an economic locomotive that’s not slowing down,” White added. “It’s all about the great people who work here. And you have to do everything with integrity.”

Mayor David Cassetti lauded White for making the move to Ansonia.

“You truly are a success story,” said Cassetti. “Being in existence for 100 years is a testament to your devotion to quality manufacturing. I wish Better Packages another successful 100 years and thank you for finding your true home right here in Ansonia. Sorry (Shelton) Mayor Lauretti … they’re ours now and we’re not letting them go … well maybe in another 100 years!”

Lauretti was sad to see Better Packages leave his city, but thrilled to see them remain in the Valley.

Valley Chamber of Commerce President Bill Purcell said the company has excelled under White’s leadership as a “thoughtful, deliberate, kind and compassionate” man.

Purcell announced to thunderous applause from the crowd that Better Packages, this fall, will be inducted into the American Manufacturing Hall of Fame, “an exclusive club of premiere manufacturers” that includes Sikorsky, Bridgeport Machine and Hubbell.

White thanked all employees, past and present, for their dedication and unbeatable work ethic, and expressed gratitude to his wife, Fran, for keeping him “focused and grounded.”