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Index Packaging Thinks Inside and Outside the Box

Published Wednesday Sep 15, 2021

Author Matthew J. Mowry

From left: Bruce Lander, owner; Connie Lander, founder; and Michael Wiles, president. Photo by Christine Carignan.

Though 2020 was a rough one for most businesses, Index Packaging in Milton expanded. The custom packaging manufacturer was already growing and needing more space when demand for its products spiked during the pandemic.

In June 2020, the company purchased the 45,000-square-foot former Foster’s Daily Democrat printing building in Dover and, in June 2021, broke ground on a 57,000-square-foot addition to the facility.

Index, which has 194 employees, has 30 open positions it has been trying to fill for months, says Michael Wiles, president.

How they benefited from the pandemic is interesting. When COVID-19 hit, organizations suddenly began mailing computers to people’s homes to accommodate remote access. It just so happens that Index Packaging makes boxes to ship laptops and tablets. The Washington D.C. School System ordered 1,500 laptop mailers alone. And, while Index usually sells 50,000 mailers annually, they began selling 25,000 a month at the height of the pandemic. They still sell 15,000 units a month, Wiles says.

Another product that boomed was Index Packaging’s custom crates, which are designed to ship medical devices and testing samples. Demand for those also skyrocketed, Wiles says, and overall revenue grew by almost 13% between 2019 and 2020.

Index Packaging has come a long way since Founders Connie and Bill Lander developed a device to indicate if a product had been damaged by tipping during shipping. Bill, an engineer, invented the device, and Connie manufactured it. The company still sells 3 million Tip ‘N Tell units annually and 800,000 Drop ‘N Tell units annually though most sales come from industrial packaging.

When Lander retired, his son Bruce took over growing sales to seven figures. And, when Bruce retired, the family promoted Wiles, a long-time employee, to president. Under Wiles, Index has acquired three companies and launched new products, including a pallet recycling operation, Wiles says, adding they hope to acquire another company before year end.

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