Lebanon manufacturer finding new uses for its envelopes

JBM Envelope Co. at 2850 Henkle Drive specializes in making open-end envelopes — not the kind with wide flaps used to mail bills, but the kind that hold hotel keys.

As it is, JBM produces up to 6 million envelopes a day for bank teller drive-thru windows, parking violation tickets, flower and vegetable seed packets and other niches. But after surviving the recent economic recession, and anticipating the declining use of some product lines, company leaders set out to find new ways the envelopes could be used by customers.

“We want our product to be used in a meaningful way by the end user,” said Chief Operating Officer Dan Puthoff.

Last year, a new division was started to produce customized packaging such as folded drinking cups. Goals are to grow packaging products in new markets, and expand JBM’s existing retail seed packet business.

Eventually, JBM could expand into other packaging products like boxes, Puthoff said.

“This isn’t being scared about anything, this is just being prepared,” said Chief Executive Officer Marcus Sheanshang.

“The envelope is still an extremely important part of the business and it always will be, but JBM Packaging is allowing us to focus on new markets for us to grow in,” he said.

JBM Envelope was founded in 1985 in Cincinnati by Greg Sheanshang brokering envelopes sales. The manufacturing of paper envelopes began in 1989 and today, about 150 JBM employees work for the Warren County company. Sheanshang moved the business in 1994 to Lebanon.

Under second generation leadership — Marcus Sheanshang bought the company from his father in 2008 — the new packaging venture takes advantage of JBM’s know-how in producing folded paper. He envisions the growth opportunities to be in meeting the needs of customers for tailor-ordered packaging, rather than one-size-fits-all containers. That means filling orders for 100s of different designs, colors and shapes of packages.

“We’re planning for growth here,” Marcus Sheanshang said.

“The real big difference between where we’re going in the future, versus where we’ve been, is the work is much more complicated,” Sheanshang said.

In September, JBM Envelope completed a $3.6 million total investment, the company’s single largest capital investment in history, and which included installing a new Manroland press. The machine makes flat sheets that are then converted in a second, separate process to folded envelopes, Puthoff said.

Whereas an older press took an hour to switch plates between jobs and processed 12,000 sheets per hour, on average, the new one takes 10 minutes to turnaround and feeds 16,000 sheets an hour, Sheanshang said.

“We’re going to have a tremendous amount of increased throughput on this machine,” Sheanshang said.

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