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Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Bubble Envelopes & Recycling

Posted by Jerry Velona on Nov 3, 2016 2:33:50 PM

I was raised not to waste. As a child growing up in the northern New Jersey suburbs, wasting anything was one of the worst things we could do. The ethic of conservation around our house was neatly summed up in the aphorism quoted to me innumerable times by my grandmother and my mother: “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”.  I also heard, “waste not, want not” more than a few times for good measure. We were the children and grandchildren of the generations that lived through the Great Depression and the hard lessons of that era were drummed into most of us growing up in the 60’s and the 70’s. 

 I don’t believe I owned a pair of “play pants” (as they were quaintly referred to) that didn’t have multiple patches stitched into them by my grandmother and her trusty Singer sewing machine.  When I’d make another hole (we played hard back then!) I’d just get another patch. It was no big deal and nothing embarrassing to me.  And we weren’t poor, by the way.  We lived in a small but comfortable single family home in a solidly middle class neighborhood.

 patches on pants.jpg

Can you imagine someone these days doing that?  Now there are many reasons why you see very few patched pants on kids today.  Probably the biggest one is that the general level of affluence in society among all economic groups is greater than it was 50 years ago.  There’s less of a need to patch pants when you can afford to just buy a new pair for a reasonable price.  Another factor is personnel-related. How many families have an in-house grandma who’s got the time, skill, equipment and willingness to do it?

 Today the cultural ethic of conservation and recycling has mostly become the province of environmentalism. I have mixed feelings about this development. On the one hand I think it’s good to carry on the traditions of frugality regardless of the rationale. But I tend to look at these things more from a moral perspective rather than just a “green” perspective. The two are not always in synch. But, that’s a topic for another day!

What I’ve been leading up to here is that it’s good to recycle and reuse and that at Elite, we have come up with a way to allow you to reuse your bubble envelopes while still having it your way.  The answer is our Smart Bubble ™ product.  Like all good ideas, it’s very simple. We print you an envelope in however many colors you want, with as much coverage as you’d like and we provide it with a removable bubble sleeve.  We can do these in small quantities if you’d like with the same quick turnaround we provide on just about everything we make.  The removable sleeve can be re used or recycled.  Sometimes it’s good to have the item that’s been shipped in the envelope stored in the same protective packaging once it’s removed.  Or you can use the liner to send something else or add protection to something you’re shipping in a box.

 With Elite’s Smart Bubble™ envelope, you can have your favorite design and ship it too.  (Patches not included!) 

Topics: bubble envelopes, smart bubble envelopes, recycling envelopes, elite envelope

Printed Bubble Envelopes at Elite Envelope

Posted by Jerry Velona on Apr 26, 2016 1:55:44 PM

Who knew that bubble wrap would have such an interesting backstory?

According to Wikipedia, Bubble wrap was invented in 1957 by two engineers named Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes in Hawthorne, New Jersey. Initially, Fielding and Chavannes sealed two shower curtains together, creating some air bubbles, which they originally tried to sell as wallpaper(!).  Predictably, the wallpaper market did not prove very fruitful.  They then tried marketing it as greenhouse insulation with similar lack of success.

Although Bubble Wrap was branded by Sealed Air Corporation (founded by Fielding and Chavannes) in 1960, it was not until a year later that its use in protective packaging was discovered.  As a packaging material, Bubble Wrap's first client was IBM which used the product to protect one of its large, mainframe computers during shipment.  Fielding and Chavannes were inducted into the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in 1993 and why not?  Their invention became one of the most useful products in its era.

Eventually Sealed Air figured out a way to line envelopes with its bubble product at which time the bubble envelope or bubble mailer was conceived.  I don’t have any hard numbers on this but I’m guessing that bubble envelopes reached a peak in popularity during the halcyon days of compact discs. There was/is really nothing better in which to mail a CD than a bubble envelope. CDs are not as popular as they once were but bubble envelopes seem to be increasing in popularity from the plethora of small internet companies selling products that require some modest protection when shipping.

Elite Envelope gets a lot of hits on its website from small entrepreneurs who require bubble envelopes. Most of them want printing on the envelopes. A fair number want full coverage printing on the front and back.  This is almost impossible to find in the market for the simple reason that bubble envelopes cannot feed through a four color press. A few years ago we responded with our “Smart Bubble” product. By using a removable bubble sleeve, we are able to print pretty much any type of coverage on a paper, Tyvek or Herculink envelope first and then insert the bubble sleeve.  The protection is exactly the same and it has the added benefit of allowing the bubble sleeve itself to be reused or recycled rather than thrown in the trash with the envelope – hence the “Smart” part.

We’ve had some success with this product but recently, our engineers, actually one of our highly capable staff members Chris Gorman, devised a way to print pre made bubble envelopes by changing the configuration of one of our old presses (talk about recycling!).  Chris is our lead pressman and floor manager for our printing department. He’s forgotten more about printing envelopes than I’ll ever know. We’ve printed these envelopes below on our “bubble press” and the quality is excellent.

s_elite_samples_kahn_2016_14.jpg

Because printed bubble envelopes and printed bubble mailers are not easy to produce, there are not many sources which, predictably, makes them more expensive with less order flexibility (Not to mention long waits for quotes and deliveries).  Many times a customer will face a 5,000 minimum on a printed item.  That’s usually a lot more than your typical small business can justify.  With Elite, you can order as few as you want.  There will be a minimum set-up charge but we’ll be happy to print as few as 500 for you.  We’ll also deliver in our usual 5-7 work days or sooner depending on when we get the order.

So for pre-made bubble envelopes printed one or two colors up to around 9 x 12 overall size or pretty much any size envelope printed up to four colors with a “Smart Bubble” insert, we’re here to help!

Topics: elite envelope, smart bubble envelopes, printed bubble envelopes, printed bubble mailers

New Year’s Envelope, Print & Mail Wishes

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jan 5, 2016 10:18:34 AM

 Happy_New_Year.jpg

 

Random comments on where we sit in 2015 and some hopes for 2016:

2015 was a pretty good year for envelopes and print. Each company has its unique story and set of circumstances but it seems that the print market contraction, greatly exacerbated by the financial crisis of 2008/2009, has leveled off with fewer players which was an unfortunate necessity.

The demand for direct mail components is a big part of where the business is coming from these days.  In the past, the ease and negligible cost of e mail led many marketers to believe that they could solicit new clients on the cheap. In most cases, the results confirmed the adage that “you get what you pay for”.  Despite the higher cost, the ROI for direct mail is greater than e mail which has led to an “all of the above” approach with direct mail firmly in the mix.

Social media has become a big part of business marketing – some say an indispensable part.  While I think that’s true for some companies, I don’t think it’s as true in the envelope, printing and direct mail world at least in my experience.  I’m open to being persuaded that Elite Envelope & Graphics should have a Facebook page and a Twitter account. But I have yet to hear a good argument that takes into account how we (and thousands of companies like us) actually do business on a daily basis. I still believe that my time is better spent speaking to a customer on the phone or meeting or even e mailing with them than Tweeting something out.  Social media stresses a personal connection to the audience. While establishing those close connections where possible and where appropriate have always been a part of building customer loyalty, it isn’t essential in our business.  There’s also the lack-of-time factor: both the time I’d need to spend posting interesting content and the time required by my customers to be checking Facebook or Twitter during work hours in the course of their mostly very busy days.

A noticeable trend in our industries is the movement toward smaller quantities.  The information age allows everyone to be their own corporation with their office in their pocket.  At the same time the revolution in digital printing has “lowered the entry bar” just as the advances in personal and mobile computing have done for start-ups in general. We all need to adjust our business models to be able to produce smaller quantity jobs profitably.

Another boon to the envelope industry in particular related to the many small “Etsy –type” businesses out there is the need for shipping materials.  The demand for heavy duty envelopes like Tyvek and Herculink along with bubble envelopes and board mailers has increased dramatically in the past five years or so.

What end of year blog column would be complete without a New Year’s wish?  Mine is for the Post Office to be reformed in a meaningful way which would allow it be more streamlined and cost effective for the demands of the new century.  As readers of this blog are aware, I favor a complete break-up of the first class mail government monopoly. I think it’s an outdated model and its bloat and inflexibility is a real danger to the direct mail industry which relies on it to move things efficiently at a reasonably competitive cost. While even partial privatization seems like a pipedream, perhaps the younger generation moving into Congress will look at this in a new way and can come up with a compromise that would help ensure the health of direct mail and the envelope and printing businesses that rely on it.

In any event, best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016. Happy New Year!

Topics: direct mail, elite envelope, envelopes, post office, tyvek envelopes, smart bubble envelopes

Envelopes for Small Business

Posted by Jerry Velona on Sep 22, 2014 3:01:00 PM

small business photo

As we’ve been told forever, small business is the prime driver for economic growth in our economy. While the numbers employed by the Fortune 100 are huge, they tend to plateau at those exalted heights and remain relatively stable once they get there taking into account new hires and layoffs on a net basis.  Large companies tend to grow by buying smaller companies which often results in a net loss of jobs due to the consolidation of resources.   

It makes sense that when you start a company with a staff of one, the potential for exponential growth is large. And in a country as big as the United States with the world’s largest economy (maybe second to China these days but if so, not by much) the sheer number of people starting businesses on a daily basis accounts for most of the new jobs created in the economy and it has been that way for quite some time.

What has changed however is the types of small businesses. While there are still plenty of gas stations,  hair salons, dry cleaners, café’s and the like, the new economy has spawned a huge number of start-ups which require little more than a home office, a computer and some software along with a clever idea.  Many of these need envelopes for sending or receiving products which they distribute; a t shirt, a candy bar, a greeting card, etc.

Elite Envelope gets many hits on its website each week from companies looking for a special envelope for a certain type of application – mostly some type of packaging envelope.  In my last post, I mentioned a company in New York City which was looking for something to mail diapers.  Just this past week I got a request from a company looking for something like a photo store envelope but for the purpose of returning used ink cartridges.  We’re in the process of putting together a template for him. The piece will have consecutive numbering in two different spots in addition to printing on both sides. The flap will have a tear off strip and will have a peel and seal strip to close after the tab is torn off.

There are many other envelope solutions for shipping, fulfillment and other applications that small businesses need.  Some examples:

Expansion envelopes:  These have a fold or gusset on the side which allows them to open in an accordion-like fashion in order to accommodate thick contents like papers or cloth material.  Expansion envelopes can be made in heavy-grade kraft paper (white, brown and grey are the most common colors) as well as in tear-resistant and water-proof materials.  (For more specific information on expansion envelopes, click on the keyword in the right hand column of this blog page.)

Tyvek, Herculink, Fiberkraft and Tri-Brite:  All of the items are virtually impossible to tear which makes them a good choice for sending bulky or uneven items through the mail or shipping channels.  On Tyvek the sizes range from a standard #10 size all the way up to jumbo sizes of 18 x 23 inches. All of these are durable and can be printed with just about any type of graphic design you’d like.  They are also water resistant and very light which can mean savings in shipping and especially postage if you send them through the US Mail.

Bubble lined envelopes:  These are also commonly used to transport fragile or odd-shaped items that require extra protection.  They come in paper or all plastic.  Elite supplies its own version called “Smart Bubble” which features a removable bubble sleeve that can be re-used to protect the item after it arrives or simply recycled.

Fiberboard – These are often referred to as “Fedex” envelopes but they come in heavier weights – very stiff, coated-one-side board which provides an extra level of protection as well as preventing the items inside from folding or creasing; very important for important documents.

Armorpac – This is a relatively new item on the market which combines the tear resistant features of Tyvek with the extra layer of protection of a bubble mailer but at a lower cost.  The product features a soft and light foam lining on the inside of the envelope; not quite as protective as bubble lining but more than adequate for many applications where bubble lining may be more than is needed.  They are also smooth on the outside and look great printed where bubble envelopes have a certain texture that doesn’t lend itself to a nice graphic presentation.

Give me a call anytime to discuss any of these or other possible custom solutions.

Topics: bubble envelopes, tyvek envelopes, shipping envelopes, envelopes for small business, packaging envelopes, smart bubble envelopes

Yet Another Blog Post

From Jerry Velona - co-owner,

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Jerry offers pertinent, often useful information on envelope converting and printing, web printing, direct mail, the post office, songs that have to do with mail and letters, digital overload and much more!

(Non-spam) Comments always appreciated.  Spread it around!

 

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