As part of my series about the “How Business Leaders Plan To Rebuild In The Post COVID Economy,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Anthony Magaraci. Anthony began Trinity Packaging Supply, a tech-forward, full-service packaging supply company, in his home office in 2010. Since 2011, that company has doubled its revenue every year and now includes six offices throughout the country. Under Anthony’s leadership, Trinity Packaging Supply has been repeatedly dubbed one of the fastest growing companies in the US by INC. Magazine, as well as one of the best places to work.
In 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Anthony saw a need to adapt and evolve his company to better serve his clients. Partnering with fellow Young President’s Organization (YPO) members, he launched palmpalm™ hand sanitizing products with the intention of helping essential workers remain safe and protected through the pandemic and beyond.
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I launched Trinity Packaging Supply in 2010 from my home office. The entrepreneurial spirit in me recognized a need to modernize the outdated packaging supply industry — but breaking into the field as a newcomer required a lot of cold calling and a ton of hustle. To make things more interesting, my wife and I were newly married and just learned we had a baby on the way. Needless to say, it was a chaotic time that involved a lot of juggling, late nights and diaper changes; but being adaptable and rolling with the punches is the reason we’re thriving as a business today.
Since 2011, our company has doubled in revenue every two years. By 2012, we had our first small office and corporate headquarters. In 2016, we expanded again into a larger office space in Voorhees, NJ. Today, we have six offices throughout the country and provide a one-of-a-kind, full-service packaging supply operation. Most recently, we launched palmpalm™ hand sanitizing products in an effort to help keep essential businesses, workers, and the general public safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
When COVID-19 hit, many of our customers were scrambling to source PPE supplies for their workers. In the spirit of expediency, our supply chain department’s vetting process had to prioritize availability over thorough evaluations — which resulted in partnerships with vendors that over-promised and under-delivered. One vendor in particular told us they could fulfill a hand sanitizer order for one of our larger food chain clients within one week, so we selected them to fulfill the order. Unfortunately, this vendor had no intention of fulfilling their scope of work or meeting the deadline. Choosing the wrong vendor cost our company $250,000. Luckily, we were able to get the money back through product liability insurance.
The very expensive lesson I learned from this experience is how important it is to have complete control of our supply chain, from the contracts with the corn farmers for ethanol production, to the logistics, co-packing scheduling to the finished product. This is what motivated me to pull the trigger on opening a fully integrated manufacturing facility in Atlanta, GA, which will be fully functioning in early 2021. We plan to do everything in-house, including chemical mixing, plastic injection molding, bottling, filling, labeling, packaging and distribution.
Is there a particular book that you read, or podcast you listened to, that really helped you in your career? Can you explain?
“How to Become a Rainmaker” by Jeffery Fox had a profound impact on my sales approach and outlook of selling. The book got me through the early years of cold calling relentlessly in a room by myself. It provided insight into the psychology behind buying decisions and reinforced my approach of listening and understanding over talking.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven business” are more successful in many areas. When you started your company what was your vision, your purpose?
Quite simply, I wanted to help small businesses do better. I saw that the wholesale packaging supply industry was lacking and over complicated in many ways, mainly because it was still functioning by archaic standards. My team and I are constantly dreaming up new ways we can support our clients’ needs, whether that means manufacturing and providing hand sanitizer during a pandemic or building the first-of-its-kind, full-service e-commerce platform for wholesale packaging supply.
Do you have a “number one principle” that guides you through the ups and downs of running a business?
The theme of persistence has been essential in guiding me as a business owner and growing my company. Early on in my cold-calling days, I learned to never hesitate and to always persist. Oftentimes, that means being flexible enough to adapt to whatever changes are happening around us.
Take the recent pandemic for example. In the first few weeks, many of our retail clients were closing temporarily or permanently, which meant we were losing business daily. However, we recognized a very real need for hand sanitizer and other PPE products — in fact, we were receiving overwhelming requests for hand sanitizer from customers who were not able to source it from other vendors due to the shortage. Recognizing we have the capability to produce hand sanitizer in-house due to our nimble supply chain, we quickly adapted to help our clients prevent supply gaps by developing a fast-acting and effective hand sanitizer, palmpalm™, formulated specifically to help keep essential workers safe.
As contact less business exchange becomes more and more essential, we are also adapting by creating a first-of-its-caliber fully online e-commerce packaging supply solution for businesses, which does not currently exist in the industry but is much-needed. We’re ramping up to roll out this platform quickly in upcoming months.
Thank you for all that. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. For the benefit of empowering our readers, can you share with our readers a few of the personal and family related challenges you faced during this crisis? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I live on the West Coast with my wife and two daughters, while their grandparents are across the country on the East Coast, now unable to visit. Like many, it’s been difficult to be separated from our loved ones. My daughters are now being educated at home, which of course is a huge adjustment for everyone. One thing that has helped through all the uncertainty and separation is being in a position to help from a distance. My brother-in-law, who happens to be a police officer, mentioned the scarcity of masks within his department. By leveraging our international network, Trinity was able donate 3,000 KN95 masks to protect 300 police officers on the front lines during the fast-spreading pandemic.
Can you share a few of the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
The pandemic has definitely shifted the types of products our clients are using. Because Trinity can only thrive when freight shipping businesses are also thriving, the future felt extremely uncertain at first. However, we were able to quickly pivot by providing palmpalm™ hand sanitizer to our clients, so they may continue operations while meeting CDC standards. Moreover, as a member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO) Manufacturing Coalition to fight COVID-19, fellow YPO members and I have leveraged access to an international manufacturing network that will help ensure businesses, healthcare workers, governments, and consumers have access to palmpalm™ hand sanitizer, while we maintain complete control of the supply chain. As a business owner, this pandemic has really highlighted the importance of collaboration — we truly are stronger together.
Obviously we can’t know for certain what the Post-Covid economy will look like. But we can of course try our best to be prepared. We can reasonably assume that the Post-Covid economy will be a trying time for many people across the globe. Yet at the same time the Post-Covid growth can be a time of opportunity. Can you share a few of the opportunities that you anticipate in the Post-Covid economy?
As we’ve seen across all industries, I think this pandemic will pave the road for many new innovations. Instead of going “back” to normal, we will move forward with better and more sustainable systems and operations in place. For Trinity Packaging Supply, this means rolling out a first-of-its-kind tech forward approach to our industry. We are in the final stages of introducing a fully online e-commerce packaging supply solution for businesses that will involve mastering the drop ship platform and automating the brokerage model in a way that will empower clients with the best pricing, instant access to information, next day shipping, and more.
How do you think the COVID pandemic might permanently change the way we behave, act or live?
I think this has been a great lesson in taking inventory of what is truly important and/or essential in our lives. I also believe we will see an even greater push toward tech-forward and more sustainable business models.
Considering the potential challenges and opportunities in the Post-Covid economy, what do you personally plan to do to rebuild and grow your business or organization in the Post-Covid Economy?
First, I see palmpalm™ serving as an important product both during COVID-19 and beyond. While it is currently only available to our packaging supply clients, it will soon be accessible to the general public as well on various third-party websites. We are currently producing more than 150,000 bottles of palmpalm™ each day in order to meet demand and will have 200ml spray bottles, 2-oz. flip top bottles, 8-oz. squeeze bottles, and 1-gallon jugs available for sale. Secondly, as previously mentioned, Trinity Packaging Supply will be automating our industry’s brokerage model and introducing a zero-contact system that is intuitive, convenient, and reliable. We’re incredibly motivated to introduce this system because we believe it’s solving a very real and timely problem in the packaging supply industry.
Similarly, what would you encourage others to do?
I encourage other business owners to look for opportunities to adapt and evolve their business in a way that not only benefits them, but more importantly, benefits the people or industries they are designed to serve.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Two years ago, I found a great mentor in Jiu Jitsu. My trainers have taught me to “go past perceived limits” and that lesson has been incredibly relevant in the growth and evolution of my business. I encourage my team members to look at their jobs as a craft to master…then move on to the next level.
How can our readers further follow your work?