Film-package printer prepares operation in Reno
Kevin King, chief financial officer of Garlock Printing and Converting, clearly remembers the first time he set foot in the company’s new western region facility on Woodlands Avenue in west Reno.
Garlock Printing and Converting toured about 20 buildings in the Reno-Sparks area before purchasing the former New West Distributing Facility last September. The company has begun a sweeping renovation of the old warehouse and installed the first of several state-of-the-art 10-color film presses to make flexible packaging for the food packaging industry.
“The last time I was in here, this room was full of beer,” King says. “This was the cooler. It has changed quite a bit.”
Peter Garlock founded Garlock Printing and Converting in 1987 in Gardner, Mass., with lines of branded tissue for gift wrapping at various retailers. The company captured about 80 percent of the U.S. market in that arena and moved into film packaging as it began printing packaging for its branded tissue products.
Garlock’s presses print on polyethylene, polypropylene and co-extruded films. The company expects to add three more lines in the coming months, as well as other top-line packaging and converting equipment.
“Stores today are demanding such high graphics,” Peter Garlock says. “We are right at that cutting edge. We will be making our own printing plates here and making our own inks — we will be very self-sufficient.”
Garlock employs about 320 people at its Gardner headquarters and expects to employ up to 175 people in Reno as it ramps up operations over the next five years. It currently employs about 20 in northern Nevada.
Garlock says the market for printed film packaging — think bags of frozen peas or fruit, or the pre-packaged salads in the produce department at your local supermarket — is incredibly diverse. The company had been serving the entire country from its Massachusetts headquarters, with products taking four to five days to reach their destination. Having a facility in a western region state reduces wait times to just one day for the company’s large California food-packaging customers.
“We always wanted to expand, we just never knew when the appropriate time was going to come,” Garlock says. “But we are doing a lot of business on the West Coast, especially in the produce market. It was a long haul (from Massachusetts) and it was time-sensitive. We can produce it here and ship it out in a day and we can also keep inventory here so they can get it in a just-in-time basis.”
Garlock Printing and Converting also expects to begin construction to a 60,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution facility adjacent to its current operations. The setup mirrors the operations of its headquarters location, Garlock says.
Reno works well to house the company’s western expansion because it’s located near Garlock’s major western customers, its president says. The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada also helped the company win tax incentives and provided other assistance. Mike Hoeck of NAI Alliance assisted Garlock Printing and Converting with finding a location in the Reno area.
King says the biggest challenge to date has been the compressed timeline in getting the Reno operation up and running. It took ownership of the building on Jan. 1, and revamped the building’s mechanical, gas and electrical systems and installed information technology infrastructure to serve its computer-controlled printing presses.
“In less than four months we want to be fully operational,” King says. “That’s a lot of paperwork and permits and a lot of different things we had to do to get this company up and running — it’s been very difficult.”
From a national standpoint, research shows the embrace of digital commerce is a whole decade ahead of schedule thanks to the pandemic. We spoke with the Retail Association of Nevada, Downtown Reno Partnership and the Reno+Sparks Chamber of Commerce to give local context to the growth of online retail.