Jerry Murdock, center, founded IPS Packaging in the basement of his farmhouse near Greenville, S.C., in 1976. Today, he works alongside his two sons, Brad, left, inside sales and marketing, and Derrick, division sales manager in High Point, N.C.
Fountain Inn, S.C.—IPS Packaging, a major supplier to the wood products industry, provides its customers with a variety of strapping, fasteners and other packaging supplies designed to deliver top performance and help alleviate operating costs. Hardwood sawmills, dry kilns, retail lumberyards, flooring plants, truss plants, planing mills and dimensional wood producers all have benefited from IPS Packaging’s innovative products, equipment, service and expertise.
Jerry Murdock founded IPS in the basement of his farmhouse near Greenville, S.C., in 1976, and ever since, growth has defined IPS Packaging Supplies. In the mid-‘70s, IPS was literally a one-man operation. Thirty years later, it is a multi-location company, employing over 80 people (including about 45 in sales), selling the full gamut of packaging supplies and services to companies in many industries in the United States and abroad such as the wood products industry. In an effort to acquire additional market share, IPS has purchased several smaller packaging companies whose locations and reputations are consistent with its strategic goals.
This Charlotte, N.C., facility is one of the company’s distribution centers.
The story of how Jerry Murdock started and grew his company is one of education, experience and determination. Murdock earned a business degree from High Point College in North Carolina in the early 1960s and worked for Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J., International Paper in Georgetown, S.C., and Henley Paper before venturing out on his own. At International Paper, Murdock worked in the Container Division. When he moved later to Henley Paper, he said he “saw a niche for packaging.” At some point he was given a book titled, “Industrial Packaging Supplies.” He devoured all the knowledge in that volume, and shortly after began his own company in his basement. About a year later, Jerry acquired an office and warehouse in nearby Greenville, S.C. Consistent growth brought with it the need for additional strategically placed facilities and distribution centers in Charlotte and High Point, N.C., were established.
In 2001, IPS bought their flagship facility in Fountain Inn where they are currently headquartered. A purchase of All Star Packaging of Charlotte, N.C., soon followed. IPS now has approximately 300,000 square feet of enclosed distribution space counting all of its facilities where it specializes in “just-in-time” delivery practices. Murdock’s younger son, Brad, heads up multiple departments at the Fountain Inn headquarters, and an older son, Derrick, works out of the High Point, N.C., distribution center.
IPS Packaging also operates a distribution center in High Point, N.C. The firm has approximately 300,000 square feet of enclosed distribution space counting all of its facilities.
Steel, polyester, nylon and cord strapping are among the most common products shipped from IPS warehouses to the wood products industry. “The wood industry is big for us,” said Jerry Murdock. He stresses polyester strapping as opposed to steel strapping because, “I know polyester works and it saves the customer money.” These savings could help the client grow, and this company might, in turn, provide more business for IPS in the future.
Derrick Murdock, division sales manager in the High Point office, says polyester strapping can save the customer from 25 to 50 percent in their strapping costs. “And it’s not only the savings, but polyester is a better performer for a variety of reasons,” Derrick said. “When the product is dropped or bounced, the straps will elongate with the load then tighten back up. It acts like a rubber band, and it is much safer for the employees to use and reduces worker’s compensation claims.” IPS Packaging has been converting customers in other industries to polyester strapping too, he said.
“In today’s economy,” Derrick relates, “you’ve got to watch all your costs. There are always new technologies emerging, and you’ve got to be on top of them.” In June 2008, Derrick is set to leave IPS Packaging’s High Point distribution facility and move back to the Fountain Inn headquarters. Steve Rishel is now training to become the new division sales manager at High Point.
Key executives include Steve Rishel, future division sales manager at High Point; Brad Murdock; Chris Maxon, South Carolina division sales manager; Steve Taylor, head of the Equipment and Service Division; Paul Payerle, division manager for Charlotte; Derrick Murdock and Jerry Murdock.
Jerry Murdock said with the lumber industry in its current condition, IPS has found more time to go to wood products companies and show them new packaging products. “Years ago,” he said, “people weren’t really interested in changing the way they did business. The lumber industry has changed so much in recent years that it is very important that we stay focused on the customer and provide solutions to his concerns.”
The big box stores, Home Depot and Lowe’s, opted against steel strapping in their distribution centers, Jerry said, due to safety, handling and disposal issues. Best practices at major retailers tend to filter down to local companies.
Jerry says the savings in polyester strapping comes not in cost-per-roll but in yield. The customer buys the strapping by the roll but uses it by the foot. He says that dimensional wood companies normally use automatic strappers. IPS is converting many of them to the new Signode machine, which is faster and has 50 percent less moving parts than the conventional competitive machines.
IPS’ focus is primarily aimed at hand tools, not the large lumber press strappers. “That’s what our forte is,” Jerry said. IPS sells and services both battery tools and pneumatic tools. The pneumatic tools apply consistent tension to the straps, while the battery tools work well for companies where strapping operations are accomplished in a variety of locations.
IPS Packaging is headquartered in Fountain Inn, S.C., and offers “just-in-time” delivery of its innovative products and equipment from this warehouse.
Brad Murdock, Jerry’s younger son, who works in inside sales and marketing for his dad’s company, says that for the past two years, IPS has sent associates to lumber yards and plants to survey the packaging needs of these businesses, to make recommendations on how to save them money. “That’s been a really successful part of our business the last few years,” Brad said.
IPS provides many packaging products like corner board and strap protectors too. Strap protectors come in plastic, metal or paper. “We stock them all,” Jerry said. “We have what we call master-wrap stretch film, and it’s specifically made for wood. Normally, this product is used in retail outlets, not by the manufacturers very much.”
Paul Payerle, who sold Murdock his All Star Packaging Co. and who now enjoys working as division manager for IPS’ Charlotte location, says the wood products industry is a big segment of IPS’ business. He said, “The mills, the wholesale distribution lumber yards, retail lumber yards, virtually any processor of lumber at any level is a prospect for us. They all need a lot of packaging materials.”
A sign seen at one of IPS’ facilities spells out the company’s business philosophy. The word “integrity” is written in large letters. In smaller type is: “We are honest and trustworthy. We strive to deliver on our promises.”
The Fountain Inn location has been IPS’ flagship facility since 2001. The firm has approximately 300,000 square feet of enclosed distribution space counting all of its facilities.
Derrick Murdock says IPS is one of the few packaging service companies to have its own repair center to take care of a customer’s packaging equipment. Repairs can be done either on-site at the customer’s facility or at one of IPS’ repair facilities. IPS Packaging will do whatever is necessary to get the equipment up and running.
Steve Taylor, head of the Equipment and Service Division, oversees the bench repair personnel as well as the technicians that are on the road that make on-site service calls. Steve said, “It may sound Cornish, but we truly service what we sell.”
Looking to the future, more growth is projected for IPS. In three years, the company plans to build another facility in the High Point, N.C., area.
Customers can reach IPS by phone, at its Web site, www.ipspackaging.com, and by fax. Product specialists for IPS Packaging visit clients in person, along with sales representatives.