When the three founders of Zebra Paper Converters Inc. launched their company in 2003, their attempt to enter the paperboard packaging market was more of a stumble than a big splash.
But during the next 18 months, the Mississauga, Ont.-based company gradually developed a more refined business plan — and purchasers in the market took notice. Zebra diversified its product lineup and decided to integrate the processes involved in making their paperboard packaging, making them a one-stop shop in a market otherwise fragmented with hundreds of suppliers and manufacturers.
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In 2003, three entrepreneurs came together to launch Zebra Paper Converters. The move raised some eyebrows: the partners—each in their 20s—had no experience in the paper industry. What they had was vast finance, sales, and marketing backgrounds combined with passion and creativity. Those qualities have helped David Rosen and his two partners breathe life into an often stale and stagnant industry. While most competitors serve only the largest clients, Zebra focuses on the "forgotten" small-to-medium clients. The strategy has led to 8–10 percent annual growth, with 16 percent growth in 2010. Recently, Rosen sat down with Advantage to share how he helped give Zebra its stripes.
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