Meet Ian Robson, CEO of American Paper Bag, Wilkes-Barre Connect’s very first client and founding success story. Ian had previously spent the past 15 years in the standard bag industry in Europe, until he visited Northeastern Pennsylvania in October of 2016 to explore the possibility of opening his own specialty paper bag manufacturing company in America.
“I knew that nobody in the United States had this kind of product yet and I saw the opportunity to go in and gain exclusivity on this major market. It was an easy decision to make, knowing that it’s a proven product, and there was a very large market that was untapped,” explains Robson.
He became interested in the region because of its proximity to major markets, as well as the standard of living. “The area, you could tell, was about to be on the up. You could see it. So, it was a nice time to come into it – at the beginning of that curve,” says Robson.
Ian utilized the Wilkes-Barre Connect program during his transition to the U.S. and business-building stage, in order to connect to resources in the region to access capital, office space, and a manufacturing location.
“Wilkes-Barre Connect made it clear that it was a one stop shop and that it could make it easy for us to link in to everything else that was available in the region. They were very proactive in helping us out in a variety of different ways, including funding from incentive programs, says Robson. “…We also looked at New Jersey, Michigan, and California as possible places to locate, and nobody could come anywhere near to the support given [here].”
Since moving to the United States, Ian opened a manufacturing facility for American Paper Bag in the Hanover Industrial Park, and produces revolutionary paper shopping bags and mailers with unmatched customization options.
“We do something that nobody else can do. The [standard bag] industry hasn’t really changed in the last 60 years…. We have come in with a completely new product, new way of manufacturing, and a blank slate for how we set it up. That’s enabled us to be able to run twice as quickly as standard production and has allowed us to compete more directly, even as a small, startup company. We’ve come in at the right time, as well. Our product is a lot greener, and, as a manufacturer, we have less waste. We use fewer materials and less energy in the way we manufacture,” says Robson.
In their manufacturing facility, American Paper Bag houses their own state-of-the-art printers capable of 8-color, water-based flexographic print, with an extra UV station. They offer 2-sided printing in one pass with up to 4 colors available on the inside and full in-line slitting gives the option of printed flat handles and patches, providing an opportunity for more purposeful design. Their state-of-the-art converting machines produce twice as fast as the competition, and their production process allows for customizable bag shapes, which means that their clients enjoy freedom from stock sizes and a broad range of unique styles and details.
If you’re interested in learning more about American Paper Bag, visit their website at https://www.americanpaperbag.com/ and attend one of our upcoming Wilkes-Barre Connect events to meet Ian in person!
About Wilkes-Barre Connect:
Wilkes-Barre Connect is an initiative powered by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber, that helps businesses grow in Northeastern Pennsylvania, featuring a partnership among the Small Business Development Center at Wilkes University, the Diamond City Partnership, the Institute for Public Policy & Economic Development, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Family Business Alliance at Wilkes University, and the Allan P. Kirby Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Wilkes University. Wilkes-Barre Connect is housed in Wilkes-Barre’s THINK Center, a space made possible by the Penn State Wilkes-Barre and the Invent Penn State initiative.