Great Northern Corp. is a leading developer and manufacturer of creative solutions for packaging, shipping, merchandising and distributing products for industrial, commercial and retail markets. Headquartered in Appleton since the company was founded in 1962, it now employs 1,200 people in five states.
As the winner in the category, Process, GNC in 2015 launched a five-year growth plan called Vision 2020. The plan calls for all business units to develop innovative products and processes for customers as a way to do what others “can’t or won’t” do.
One example is the use of what the company calls “System 3000” in its packaging business unit, a supply- chain optimization process that seeks to improve the efficiency or reduce the cost of protective packaging.
Product innovation methods include SKU rationalization, board weight analysis and complete redesign.
Another example is the development of SURECrate, the custom engineered paperboard solution that replaces wood and steel crates — each developed through listening sessions with customers.
SURECrate was developed from what was originally called a clear pack made of VBoard, or VBoard with PalletTops. After listening to customer feedback, engineers developed six different SURECrate designs addressing specific customer needs.
In addition, customer feedback on the SURECrate assembly process prompted Laminations to solicit creative solutions from GNC design groups at each location. They helped develop a new extruded assembly clip that helps with ease of assembly and disassembly, and meets key criteria such as recyclable, crate structural integrity and consistency in assembly.
SURECrate proves that GNC associates listen to their customers and work to create the best possible innovative solutions to meet their needs.
Judges were impressed that innovations — along with investments and acquisitions at GNC — have led to double-digit growth in the last decade for the company, which saw $450 million in sales in 2016.
GNC has five product areas: Packaging, Instore (focusing on point-of-sale merchandising displays), Laminations (edge protection products for shipping), Rollguard (producer of roll protection systems) and StratGraph (digitally printed packaging materials).
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