Packaging industry leader T.H.E.M. (Technical Help in Engineering and Marketing) celebrated 50 years in business on Monday. In its early years, the company partnered with iconic brands such as Procter & Gamble, American Red Cross, Hershey’s, Melitta Coffee and many others, and quickly became a leading industry go-to for innovative packaging solutions.
“We haven’t deviated from our founding principles,” CEO Neil Kozarsky said. “Since the beginning, we’ve partnered with like-minded individuals and brand teams to develop top-notch packaging products. We help discover packaging solutions that enable our clients to best serve their customers. We are proud to bring that momentum into the next half-century and beyond.”
T.H.E.M. was founded in 1973 by Neil Kozarsky’s parents, Eliot and Joan Kozarsky. Eliot Kozarsky, an Army veteran, had worked at Stephen Gould Paper Co. for 20 years. He knew how important it was to find passionate, open-minded, intelligent workers. From the outset, Joan Kozarsky demonstrated her sharp eye for marketing and design. She embedded the over-arching “focus on the consumer” ethos at the firm that is still central to all of T.H.E.M.’s packaging endeavors today.
“She would go to supermarkets and seek out products that she thought could use help with packaging design,” Eliot Kozarsky said of his late wife, to whom he was married for 70 years.
One of those products was Melitta Coffee, a German company selling an Italian-branded coffee.
“One of the things she suggested was to change the colors and graphics to make it look more Italian,” Kozarsky said. Melitta continues to use many of these graphic elements today.
Similarly, Joan Kozarsky presented to Robert L. McNeil — the commercial developer of Tylenol — a packaging design that solved a problem affecting retail merchandising and customer appeal.
From its earliest days, T.H.E.M. designed instantly recognizable packaging for leading brands, from food and beverage products to socks and underwear.
“People don’t focus on just buying cartons, bags or cushioning — rather, brands and operational teams know that intelligent packaging that directly solves problems for consumers results in sales,” Neil Kozarsky said. “To be able to understand the brand, to collaborate, to problem-solve, it takes being embedded in our customer’s businesses. Joan and Eliot understood that from the beginning. Imagine way back in the ’70s, these young founders were talking about attunement, collaboration and making real connections with global brands in order to try and take packaging to a new level.”
When Neil Kozarsky joined the family business in 1980, his goal was to take his education and what he had learned working at Hamilton-Avnet Electronics in the burgeoning world of Intel and bring a high-tech approach to T.H.E.M. Among other firsts, this vision led T.H.E.M. to sign an agreement with Japanese manufacturer Sanko Machinery and introduce stick packaging to North America. This convenient single-use packaging product — often used for sweeteners, water-enhancers and more — transformed the entire industry. T.H.E.M. has been the sole distributor of Sanko Machinery in North America for 26 years.
“Sanko fueled T.H.E.M.’s move to stick packaging, which became a solution for all types of applications in the supply chain,” Kozarsky said. “What was a custom solution for one company uncovered a universal truth for others, and it’s brought exponential value for all kinds of other stakeholders in the market.”
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, T.H.E.M. sought ways to apply its packaging expertise to address the public health crisis. In collaboration with Amazon Basic Care, T.H.E.M. created its award-winning Advanced Hand Sanitizer sachet, which utilizes 60% less material than other similarly sized 1.2 mL packets. The packaging is more convenient, efficient and environmentally friendly than others in the marketplace.
The future is bright for the trailblazers at T.H.E.M. The company will continue to respond to product end-user challenges with innovative and creative packaging solutions, Eliot Kozarsky said. With 70 years in the field, and formally awarded lifetime Certified Packaging Professional status by the Institute of Packaging Professionals, he believes that the next 25 or 30 years will see machinery that can fill multiple products at once, with a major focus on truly environmental packaging.
“At some point, stick packaging will need to evolve,” he said. “And when it does, T.H.E.M. will be the one to lead the change.”