After a few tough years, a third-generation Rochester firm is on a growth path, supplying local manufacturers with packaging for products ranging from film canisters on their way to the Academy Awards to nuclear plant equipment.
Marshall Boxes Inc. specializes in custom packaging, using lumber, plywood and foam. It also provides design and consulting services.
The 14-person company mainly serves customers in the Rochester area, western New York and the Southern Tier. Its customers include manufacturers of medical equipment, defense materials, precision sheet-metal fabrications, refrigeration units and video inspection equipment.
While the global recession had a negative impact on the firm, this year has brought an uptick in business, company leaders said.
The late Sherman Skuse bought the business, which began in the 1920s, in 1948 and moved it to its current 20,000-square-foot location on Lexington Avenue five years later.
His son, John Skuse, has worked for the business since 1968 and took ownership in the early 1990s. The 60-year-old serves as president, while his son, Jeffrey, 29, is vice president. The younger Skuse joined the business roughly six years ago.
The orders are custom-made, Jeffrey Skuse said, in quantities that range from one to hundreds.
The firm's capabilities are due in part to its experienced workforce, he said.
He declined to disclose revenue figures but said the business is doing well. The medical device market is the fastest-growing segment.
The business also makes packaging for a number of exported products. Its lumber is heat-treated and able to stand up to rugged environmental conditions.
Melissa Wilkins, a package engineer for Harris Corp.'s Henrietta-based RF Communications division, said Marshall Boxes has been doing low- and high-volume projects for her company for the past decade.
Marshall Boxes is knowledgeable in pallet and crate design and fabrication, Wilkins said.
"I have found them to be a very competent and reliable company to work with, and their pallet quality and attention to detail is top-notch," she said. "They definitely have a customer-focused attitude, and in my experience they have gone above and beyond to accommodate the customer, no matter the size of the project or the delivery date requested."
Marshall Boxes plans to increase its Internet marketing capabilities. The company is looking into an outside sales force after mainly relying on word-of-mouth business referrals.
Marshall Boxes is environmentally conscious, a mindset that began in the early 1990s with a wood-scrap recycling program. The company uses all the wood scraps from its design process to heat the building in the winter, a move that reduces the amount of waste going to a landfill and saves on heating costs. During the summer, the scrap is converted to sawdust and donated to a local farm for animal bedding.
Tim Tieppo, traffic manager for Rochester-based Quality Vision International Inc., said his firm has been buying custom-made skids and crates from Marshall Boxes for roughly 20 years. His firm needs large, custom packaging that can be labor-intensive to make, Tieppo said.
"Regardless of how crazy we order things at times, they always come through for us," Tieppo said. "We ask them to do the impossible several times a year, and they do it without batting an eyelash."
Tieppo also praised Marshall Boxes' management team.
"I have known John Skuse for 18 years and been working with his son, Jeff, for several years now," he said. "The easiest term for me to use is they are good people. Not only are they easy to do business with, both are men of their word."
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