You might not be sure how to pronounce the company name. Or even know that it is based in New Jersey.
But you do know T.H.E.M., the manufacturing company based in Marlton that packages some of the most iconic food and beverage brands in the country — and has been doing so for decades.
T.H.E.M., which stands for Technical Help in Engineering and Marketing, was founded in Marlton in 1973 under the corporate entity Universal Synergetics. It was one of the first companies in the U.S. to provide customized packaging solutions to consumer packaged goods (better known as CPGs) and safe quality foods companies.
Large brands, such as Unilever and Kraft, use it to package products such as Clorox and Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing — of all sizes.
Increasingly, leading brands are turning to T.H.E.M. for their single-serve/single-use food and CPG products — everything from condiments and vitamins to hand sanitizers and personal care items.
CEO Neil Kozarsky, who took over the company that his parents started, said the T.H.E.M. name says exactly what it’s all about. It offers solutions to customers that address productivity, machinery, supply chain and marketing needs.
Being customer-centric is a founding principle of the company.
“Even today, as we’re supplying packaging to a lot of these big brands, we never forget that at the end of the chain is a human being that must really like — and deal with — some convenience and functionality,” Kozarsky said.
T.H.E.M. operates two contract packaging facilities in Marlton that produce products used by millions of consumers. It is registered with the Food & Drug Administration for food, beverage, dietary supplements and medical device contract packaging.
Kozarsky said one of the company’s legacy products is its stick-like packets that are used to put flavored powder drink mixes into bottles of water.
Think Crystal Light, Liquid I.V. and Propel.
In the late ’90s, Kozarsky said T.H.E.M. was approached by Kraft, the makers of Crystal Light, which wanted to offer its consumers an on-the-go solution.
Working with Sanko, a partner in Japan, T.H.E.M. introduced the stick pack in the U.S. and helped reinvent the brand with innovative and relevant packaging.
“We were able to help put together a supply chain in the U.S. with this stick pack that helped the brand satisfy and delight its consumers,” he said.
T.H.E.M. is now the exclusive North American agent for Sanko. In the industry, its name has become synonymous with stick packaging in the U.S.
As seen on TV
In 2016, T.H.E.M. was featured on the CNBC reality TV show, “Billion Dollar Buyer,” in which businessman Tilman Fertitta travels the country to assess potential products for his businesses.
Fertitta was looking at the Jam Stand, a specialty jam company, regarding the development and delivery of a new packaging solution for its unique product. Fertitta was initially impressed by the Jam Stand products, but he was concerned that its 1.5-ounce glass jar package was too large for a single-serve condiment.
Charged with quickly finding better packaging or forfeiting the chance for a deal, the Jam Stand co-owners found T.H.E.M. and inquired about flexible stick packaging as a single-serve alternative. The two owners met with CEO Neil Kozarsky, who assessed their needs and helped develop stick pack options for the product line.
After visiting T.H.E.M.’s headquarters to evaluate a trial run of the product in the new packaging, Jam Stand officials left with a fresh direction for their brand and a potential “deal” with Fertitta. At the next meeting, Fertitta was very impressed with both the flexible stick packaging, as well as several new jam flavors, and elected to move forward with a lucrative deal.
T.H.E.M. not only produced the initial order, but, upon airing of the episode, the Jam Stand called back with a request to double the initial run based on the immediate feedback and surging demand.
Kozarsky said single-use products is a huge business line, one that is growing quickly because it offers key benefits (including being hygienic and tamper-evident) while offering a long shelf life in compact and easy-to-open packaging.
This was never more apparent than during the pandemic, when T.H.E.M. saw the single-serve business model explode in popularity for health and safety reasons.
The request was easy to see. If T.H.E.M. could handle individual packaging for condiments, could that process transition to pandemic-related products?
Kozarsky said T.H.E.M. was presented an opportunity with hand sanitizer. It collaborated with Amazon Basic Care — which already was selling a line of basic health care products — to develop a sachet that significantly reduces materials use and provides a three-year shelf life.
“Companies knew our equipment was the fastest, most efficient packaging for that ubiquitous ketchup packet, and they asked if we could put hand sanitizer into a single-serve packet,” Kozarsky said. “We were able to bring it to market in a little over a year.”
According to Kozarsky, T.H.E.M.’s expertise, single-serve packaging, machinery, filling capabilities, quality reputation, FDA-registered room and being able to take all that forward very quickly — even with having to modify things a bit because alcohol is flammable — were all reasons it was approached to manufacture the hand sanitizer.
The product launched near the end of July 2021.
“It’s a five-star rated product,” Kozarsky said. “We are very proud of it. Not only is it great, but it has zero headspace and is a very compact packet. It also smells good. It’s got moisturizer. And the product is FDA-registered.”
Kozarsky said the product has many benefits.
It comes in packaging that is environmentally friendly — always a top concern for the company, Kozarsky said. (Amazon’s hand sanitizer uses 60% less material per package compared to similar products.)
It comes in a packaging design that is able to withstand a product that contains alcohol. (As many consumers found out during the COVID pandemic, hand sanitizer bottles leak.)
Kozarsky said the product’s unique sealant technology holds it in, and the packaging withstands extreme compressive force, meaning the pouches don’t leak. Each single-use sachet holds 1.2 mL of hand sanitizing gel, which is 70% alcohol.
Kozarsky said the ability to produce single-use products will outlast the pandemic. He feels the company’s success with hand sanitizer gives T.H.E.M. a platform to manufacture additional products that might benefit from being in a single-use, on-the-go format.
“Whether it’s a hand moisturizer or a burn cream or some medicament or mouthwash, we are now actively working with new existing and new potential stakeholders to do line extensions and take care of this FDA line in Marlton,” he said.
Kozarsky said it’s what T.H.E.M. always has been about. The company values innovative solutions, product quality, safety and speed-to-market efforts.
Finding these solutions — solving companies’ manufacturing and distribution issues — is “the core” of what T.H.E.M. does, Kozarsky said.
Moving forward, Kozarsky said the company will have a greater ability to do so.
As of now, Kozarsky estimates that T.H.E.M.’s two facilities in Marlton have 120,000 square feet of space for administration and manufacturing. The company, however, is looking to expand by 2023 or 2024, he said.
Reach T.H.E.M. at: them.net or call 800-322-8436.