Q&A with Harris Packaging’s C-level sisters

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Harris Packaging Corp. of Haltom City, a winner of the Chamber’s 2012 Small Business of the Year Award, is headed by President and CEO Jana Harris-Bickford (right) and her sister, Controller Jenise Harris-Cox.

Harris Packaging Corporation of  Haltom City, winner of the Chamber’s 2012 Small Business of the Year Award in the 51-150 Employees category, is a highly successful and competitive operation. President and CEO Jana Harris-Bickford and her sister, Controller Jenise Harris-Cox, shared thoughts about the enterprise for a Chamberletter Q&A.

 

How important is packaging to products’ success?

Packaging is vital to a product’s success.  It is not only the protective container that is used for transportation of the product, but in many cases the package is also the billboard or marketing tool for the product.

You produce world-class work with great precision. How do you describe the level of sophistication in the skills and equipment necessary to drive HPC and (subsidiary) American Carton Company of Mansfield?

Having equipment with the newest technology is key to being able to compete in today’s market. But just as critical if not more so, is having skilled employees. The employees are truly what have helped us to continue to manufacture a quality product year after year.

As you noted in the SBOY application, HPC has thrived during tough economic times. What’s in HPC’s heart of hearts that has made that possible?

Determination and willingness to take chances. During the tough economic times we began to think of ideas and markets that we normally would not have gone after. We had recently purchased a new piece of equipment for value added graphics purposes, but we realized it could also run a plain box without graphics very fast and more efficiently than we had been able to do before. This was not the original plan or product mix for this equipment, but it did allow us to be competitive in markets we were not competitive in the past. We were able to adjust to the challenges and look for other ways to get new business. We chose to focus on how to grow rather than just on how to keep our heads above water.

 

Your application also noted the challenge of increased competition from foreign competitors. How has HPC responded to that challenge?

Almost every product that is manufactured is at some point in a box, whether it is for shipping purposes only or if it is catching the consumer’s eye sitting on a retail shelf. As more and more of the U.S. manufacturers are moved overseas, we began to take a look at what was left, what industries are still manufacturing here in the States. We also began to look at investing in equipment that many of our competitors do not have. This allowed us to narrow the playing field in certain markets.

What’s one of the most important lessons you have learned from your dad?

That you cannot be successful alone. It takes a team of employees, with different talents and strengths to get the job done and to be a success.

What was HPC’s reaction to winning the SBOY award?

Everyone was thrilled! We all feel proud of the quality work that we produce, the company and its history, and the employees themselves. We think that we are an outstanding company, but to be recognized by our peers at the chamber….that was quite an honor.  Our father, Joe Harris, was especially proud that the company he started and worked so hard for over the last 36 years was being recognized as a Small Business of the Year by other business people in our community.

Would you encourage other businesses to enter the competition?

I would absolutely encourage others to enter the competition. It makes you step back and evaluate your recent strengths and successes and it brings a sense of unity among the employees. It has also provided positive publicity and recognition, which is always advantageous.

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