Packaging company owner highlights needs for multi-faceted workforce

For Packaging Systems Design, a company that specializes in end-of-the-line packaging like stretch wrapping, pallatizing and case packing and shrink bundling, there’s just no substitute for a knowledgeable, well-trained workforce with vision and multi-faceted experience.

The West Chester Twp. company doesn’t make the equipment at its offices at 6445 Gano Road, but consults with clients and has the necessary equipment created by a third party vendor.

“We install, start up and service all of the equipment that we sell,” said owner Keith Gordon, who started the company in 1995. “We have multiple sources for equipment, so we can go into any manufacturing environment and decide which equipment is best for the application and put together a game plan on how to implement the correct packaging for that application.”

The company, which records $10 million in revenue each year, continues to fill sales and tech positions it creates as neeeded as it continues to grow.

We asked Gordon about the challenges of hiring new staffers, his advice to job seekers and his vision for the company in the near future and several years from now.

Q: How did the Great Recession affect hiring by your business and how has that changed post-recession?

A: We were very fortunate in that the recession really did not have a negative effect on our business. Our business is made up of several profit centers, including equipment sales, material sales, technical support and parts sales. If equipment sales is slow, one of the other areas help support the business. We also offer used equipment which we will refurbish so if the economy is down and a customer can not afford a new system they may choose to buy a refurbished unit.

We also service many industries including food and beverage, building materials, health and beauty, etcetera. When the recession came, our customers in building materials were obviously slow but the food and beverage business remained very strong.

Q: What’s been the biggest hindrance to hiring efforts and why?

A: The two biggest issues that we have had in hiring is finding good sales people and tech service personnel that can really sell and service our products. I am extremely happy with the people that we do have, but it is a challenge adding to our existing staff because equipment sales is not easy.

The equipment that we sell is not usually sitting in our warehouse so it takes a person with some vision and imagination to be able to look at an application in a manufacturing facility and determine what equipment is needed for the application. After they have identified which vendor and which machine they still have to know the advantages of our equipment over the competitions and then sell it. It takes an experienced and talented sales person to be able to do this.

The same is true for our service personnel. I feel we have the best service personnel in our industry, but every time we need to add to our staff it is a challenge to find a talented technician that understands electrical, mechanical and programming and can look at a variety of different equipment and diagnose a problem in the field under pressure.

Q: What advice would you offer job seekers when it comes to positions at your company and for job-hunting efforts, in general?

A: "My advice would be to learn your products and understand how to sell them. As a sales person you have to understand why the equipment you are selling is better than the competitions and you have to be able to deliver that message to your customer.

“If you are trying to get a job as a technician, my advice would be to learn as much as you can about each of the three skill sets that you need to be effective. When you are called in to diagnose and fix a machine that is not working you do not know if it is an electrical, mechanical or a programming problem so you really must know all three areas to be effective.”

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