Taylor Box Awarded
2022 Manufacturer Of The Year
By Rhode Island Manufacturing Association
Hello - I'm Dan Shedd and I'm the president of Taylor box company in Warren, Rhode Island, and we're a 135-year-old manufacturer of specialty paperboard custom packaging.
Taylor Box was started by Clarence Taylor in 1885. My grandfather Howard Scholes came back from World War II and bought the company in 1917. My father Martin Shedd went away to World War II, and when he came back, he married his daughter Marken and came to work at the company.
And then my brother and I graduated from college in 1974 and 1976, and then we came to work at the company.
And the fourth generation - is my daughter, Marken - was a neuroscience graduate from Wellesley College. She came on and she said, Dad, “your website is not so great”. I appreciate that, you know, we thought it was pretty great, but again, you know, she's sort of been brought up with computers and has a very clear aesthetic sense. And I said, well, I tell you what “that's your project” reinvent our website.
As a kid, I was kept, I think, relatively ignorant about what my dad did. I was only ever in his office. I never went on the shop floor as a kid, so it wasn't until my mid-20s that I jumped in, and started off doing marketing, sales, trade show booths, product photography. I helped engineer and design our new website which pulled us to transforming our sales process because they're so interrelated inbound marketing and sales.
And at that point, I'd been in the business for a little over five years, and Dan said, “well, would you be interested in taking on a larger management role”? And so, I started my management training in November of 2019. And then COVID hit like five months into that.
When I came into this business, I walked into a production environment, which was the way it was, and I had no idea why it was the way it was. Or, you know, what needed to change until I'd been here for a little bit. And then it starts to become apparent, and we start moving departments, moving equipment and realigning the space and trying to optimize things.
So, when Marken comes into the shop and sees what they're seeing, how things run. She goes, “boy, it would be so much better if it was this way”. And so, she takes some courses in lean manufacturing, and so she comes back. And our shop is as well organized and lean as it is because of, the work that she'd done. You hear all the time when you speak to young technology people, there are always pivoting and as if it's something new.
Of course, it's not new when your product or service becomes irrelevant - you go away. So, we spent 135 years in a constant state of pivot.
So even though I'm the fourth generation of my family to join the company, we didn't start this company. And so, it's not about the Shedd's, right? It's stewarding a company for the future, and the company itself is bigger than just the family.
If you're going to be successful, you have to evolve. And you need to always be looking for a better way to do something. Now we're trying to bring that innovation into how we run our company. We're the little family box shop in Warren, but we want to be using the same software and coming with the same methodology and approach as you know, any fortune 500 company would.