NuFletch Archery LLC, Fort Walton Beach, FL, specializes in the production of “APE” Arrow Performance Enhancement arrow tails for today’s high-speed carbon arrows. The company also manufactures lighted nocks (the notched end of an arrow for fitting into a bowstring) that aid in recovering arrows and also assist archers in fine-tuning arrow flight. NuFletch had been packaging its high-tech “APE” tails and “IGNITOR” lighted nocks in traditional, thermoformed, heat-sealed, non-customized containers.
To better establish its position in the marketplace, NuFletch wanted to improve the appearance and consumer convenience of the packaging, while also reducing the cost of the packaging and the time and complexity involved in the packaging process.
NuFletch CEO John Marshall notes, “We were introducing revolutionary designs in the archery market with our arrow tails and nocks. We felt that the packaging we selected must clearly and quickly display the functional advantages of our products. We knew that our start-up advertising budget would be very skinny at best, so we wanted to promote the new products with outstanding packaging, using the packaging as a virtual salesman.
“We shopped around for packaging solutions, and decided that First Choice Packaging offered a better designed package that was faster, easier, and cheaper to produce, while enhancing the overall look of our packaging.”
First Choice Packaging, the exclusive North American licensed manufacturer of a unique security closure system called Virtuweld™, creates PVC clamshells that provide a custom cavity for the product in addition to security without the added cost and time of heat-sealing operations. The Pentaform® vinyl is supplied by Klöckner Pentaplast. First Choice uses Model 2500 thermoforming equipment from Sencorp to form the clamshells.
The custom-made Virtuweld packaging is designed so that the back of the clamshell automatically clips firmly to the front. The secure closure is then given further protection by the addition of a stitch-welded visual effect that completes the optical illusion that the package is actually welded. As a result, the package looks too hard to open for a shop-lifting package pilferer. It looks heat-sealed, but actually pops open without use of cutting utensils through a proprietary opening mechanism that is not immediately evident on the store shelf. Shoppers need to take the package home and carefully handle the packaging and review the packaging instructions to discover the simple opening procedure.
Marshall says, “We package in-house, and we found that by using the First Choice Virtuweld clams, we could by-pass the expense of additional sealing machines and give our packaging team more time and flexibility for quality control packaging checks. If we inspect a package and find a problem, the Virtuweld allows us to open the package through our proprietary mechanism without causing any packaging damage and correct the package contents. Currently, we are hand-loading the packages. But we have looked at alternative methods, and, if needed, we can easily adapt the First Choice custom clam to automated assembly.”
The card component
The NuFletch in-house team composed the information that the company wanted printed on the clamshell card facing. Then, based on a recommendation from First Choice, NuFletch contacted CardPak, Inc. about the design and production of the paperboard cards for the clamshells.
Marshall says, “Our CardPak Customer Service contact Debbie Rogers was awesome. She had excellent knowledge about card design and printing and helped us test options for our application and make comparisons to other card stock gauges and dimensions. In the end, the combination of the First Choice Virtuweld clamshell and the CardPak customized card facing gave us the packaging we had been looking for and conveyed the marketing message we wanted to convey.”
The 14-pt SBS card fits snugly into a recessed area on the face of the hanging pegboard display clamshell. Boldly printed by CardPak, using a 10-color, high-speed offset press, the card attracts immediate attention to the product and provides important product information.
Assessing the cost of the clamshell packaging, Marshall notes, “The cost of the clamshells and cards is easy to quantify—about 48 cents per packaging unit. But for the entire packaging process, we need to take into account a number of variables. And we need to factor in the marketing impact that the packaging has given us. There were cheaper alternatives. We could easily have used a more traditional clam and cardboard backing for about 37 cents per total packaging unit. But we wanted something more distinctive—a classy ’tuxedo’ look—because we feel we have a revolutionary product and don’t want it to get lost in the marketing maze. So we were willing to pay an additional 9 cents per custom clam and 2 cents per custom card. The custom molding plate cost approximately $1800, which was a very competitive price. And no other options were equal to the finished look we were hunting for and found with First Choice and CardPak.”
Marshall adds, “Retailers have been enthusiastic about the new packaging. They love that the products’ features and benefits are so prominently printed on the packaging. It’s like having a virtual salesperson on the store floor. The packaging definitely has helped us boost our brand identity,”
In summary, says Marshall, “It’s time- and cost-critical to get things right on the first go-round. Costs can accelerate quickly if you have to redo things over and over. First Choice ‘gets it’ when it comes to custom packaging. We had a very close and continual line of communications with them, and we easily were able to make changes in the prototype. We got the packaging we wanted plus some improvements that we didn’t even anticipate. Never did we have a moment’s problem working with First Choice.”