In honor of this momentous birthday, we interviewed our Founder, Benny Wilkins, and this is what he had to say….
Q: How did ClearBags get its start?
A: ClearBags started as part of a small business that sold photos and posters to the general market. We would sell the posters shrink wrapped onto a piece of cardboard, but that brought us nothing but trouble. The shrink wrap would shrink too much, rip or tear, and the cardboard would bend. One day while in a small meeting going over proof copies of prints, we noticed the clear plastic bags the proofs came in. The bag would usually be too large and they would fold over the excess and secure it with a piece of tape. My business partner at the time brought up the idea that we could make our own bags in the exact size we needed. Truthfully, when he said that, I thought, “Yeah right…” but it ended up being the best idea. We ditched the shrink wrap and started making bags that would fit our product perfectly. The next thing we knew, people who bought our prints were calling in and asking if they could buy additional bags and ClearBags took off.
Q: When you started ClearBags, did you imagine it would get to where it is today?
A: When ClearBags started, I never thought that it would become what it is today. I was just taking things one day at a time but as we started to surpass each of our goals, the dreams and potential grew bigger and bigger.
Q: What was your key to success?
A: There were many things that happened along the way to help us be successful – great suppliers, customers, and employees were all key. One large key to our success was Dave Pavao. He has been with the company since it began, and he is the current President. His ability to create a customized customer program and computer system so that we could take care of our customers and grow was invaluable.
Q: Have things always been easy?
A: No, definitely not, but we have found ways to stay positive and make the most of any bumps in the road. Early on in the business, I remember there was a time when I mixed up the sizing and placed a large order for an awkward sized bag. I was devastated – we were just starting out. I was sure there would be no use for these misordered bags, but it turned out that people loved them and we actually ended up reordering the size. It really opened our eyes to look for all different kinds of applications and opportunities.
Q: ClearBags sells to so many industries. How did selling photo sleeves turn into selling food pouches?
A: This happened over time by listening to the customers and noticing the needs and opportunities around us. While ClearBags started in the art and photo industry, the possibilities for growth came from a variety of industries — food, cosmetics, pets, fishing, stationery, and more! We began developing and designing new and creative packaging solutions that could work for our customers in any industry. We moved from selling just bags to boxes, backing board, mats, pouches, an eco friendly line, and most recently water soluble bags.
Through it all, we have our customers to thank. We grew from a small, 4 person-run company to where we are today through the help of our customers and their willingness to spread the word and continue working with us to provide what they need.
Our core values are to be conscientious, collaborative, committed, capable, and caring. Ultimately, we want to help people thrive. That of course includes our customers, but also our employees, suppliers, and anyone we work with.
Q: What is the future for ClearBags?
A: I hope we have a long prosperous future in which we can continue to provide opportunities to thrive. ClearBags is a family business, and it is now owned mostly by my children – the second generation. My daughter is our company Visionary and she and Dave Pavao, our President, continue to lead the crew and press forward to help ensure that we always keep our company focused on the right things in the right ways. It is important that we never forget how we got to where we are – this will help us always have a bright future. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had to work with so many wonderful people over the years. It has been a great adventure.
Please celebrate our 30th with us by heading over to www.clearbags.com/celebrate to enter to win one of 30 vouchers worth $30 each.
Happy Birthday ClearBags!