Founded in 1989 and based in Bishop Auckland, Co Durham, the family-owned Durham Box was formed by current managing director, Mike Morris. In its current form, the company supplies corrugated packaging solutions to an extensive customer base of over 450 companies, occupies a 90,000 sq ft site, makes in excess of 35 million products per year and employs over 70 people. Operating in a challenging industry, Durham Box is the epitome of business resilience. By sticking rigidly to their values and core beliefs, the company remains focused on providing their customers with a quality service, ensuring that, whether it’s printed shelf ready packaging, industrial or protective packaging, their finished products are best suited to their customers’ supply chain.
The turn of the millennium saw Daniel Morris officially join the business. Having spent periods of time as a teenager helping out whenever he could, his move into the company to work alongside his father began with developing a good understanding of the business and learning about the industry in general. Starting in design, Dan moved to external sales and then to the commercial side of the business where he found his niche, quickly establishing himself by reviewing and replacing the company’s corrugated board supplier and creating a good cost saving in the process.
During the first decade of the millennium, Durham Box continued to thrive and continued to develop the site, investing in both staff and machinery. Up to the present, the factory has been extended a total of five times, increasing the footprint from its original 20,000 sq ft, to 90,000 sq ft. This commitment to make sound investments has been the cornerstone of their success, always striving to develop the business to enable and encourage growth, whether that be a technological advancement, the employment of skilled people, extending the factory or increasing the transport capability.
Another block of land
However, the completion of this building effectively ended the development potential for the existing site, meaning that while the company had room to grow, this potential would ultimately be restricted. Seemingly it was time for another turn of good fortune, as no sooner had the builders finished, the opportunity arose to purchase the adjacent property. Consisting of a 12,000 sq ft building and significantly, 2.5 acres of undeveloped land, this was another opportunity not to be missed. The purchase was completed in March 2018, ensuring the company’s future potential will not be restricted by any physical boundaries.
In terms of its infrastructure, Durham Box has recently invested in a digital press to keep pace with market developments. Going forward digital is set to be a key focus for the company, allowing it to remain nimble and competitive in the face of changing printed packaging requirements, particularly with retail ready and e-commerce developments.
Facilitated by ID Machinery, Durham Box chose the Wonderjet WD200 digital press. It is a 2000mm, single pass, high speed digital printer with dryer and coater inline. (ID Machinery are the UK/Benelux and Iberian sales agent for Wonderjet). It can handle a wide variety of corrugated sheets, from the thinnest micro flute, through to standard doublewall board. It prints in the standard CMYK range, using water-based dye inks.
With such extensive facilities Durham Box is able to service the needs of a wide range of customers from a number of different sectors. “We can supply anyone and everything and our customer base certainly reflects that,” said Dan. “Our biggest market sector is now food and drink, while being based in the north-east, we also have access to the local automotive industry. In addition we have developed strong links with the chemical, engineering, retail and fulfilment sectors, with e-commerce also beginning to dominate.”
Flexibility is key
Such a varied customer base requires a flexible approach, something that Durham Box excels in, and an equally diverse inventory of machinery. “We’re extremely well equipped - much better than our competitors of a similar size and even much larger organisations in many cases. We’ve taken the view that we don’t want enquiries coming to us that we’re not able to cater for, so we invested in the biggest converting machinery we could buy and also the smallest. We have therefore got the capabilities to make pretty much anything and I can’t remember the last time we had an enquiry for a corrugated product that we couldn’t produce,” continues Dan.
Durham Box’s forward thinking strategy, flexibility and controlled growth ethos has helped deliver impressive and consistent results for the manufacturer. Key to their continued success is their ability to deliver their expertise in an intelligent way, providing their customers with first class packaging solutions and services. This combined with an agile, go-getting mindset has helped developed a business model that can quickly anticipate and react to changing market conditions, thereby creating a speed-to-market efficiency that is often beyond the capabilities of many of their competitors, whether that’s large integrated entities or similar sized independents.