Thinking Inside the Box with M-Line
M-Line Inc. of Brunswick provides custom packaging solutions. But that doesn’t mean much until you start hearing what they do day in and day out. Made in Medina County sat down with co-owner Dan Mihacevich to hear their story.
Q: Thank you so much for talking with us, Dan. Could you please share how M-Line got started?
A: Actually, my parents, John and Rosemary, launched the business in our house when my brother Nick and I were kids. We all chipped in to make things work. Dad had been in the industry for a number of years when he decided to venture out on his own in 1987.
Q: When we say “custom packing solutions”, what exactly does that mean? I’m guessing it isn’t like the packing peanuts I get in the stuff at my house.
A: No – not quite. Our focus is to solve our customers packaging challenges. Our clients bring us products that are difficult to package and have to arrive in perfect condition. Our job is to provide those clients with the best solution to meet their needs. Many times packaging that is “off the shelf” does not work. We then create a custom designed solution for them. We help customers across all sectors including manufacturing, retail, laboratories, food producers, and distribution centers.
Q: That sounds like a challenge. Where do you start?
A: Every customer has unique packaging challenges. Packaging challenges can include the labor of packing the product at its production source, warehouse storage conditions and requirements, the rigors of the shipping cycle, and the end user experience. We consider all these touch points when designing packaging.
Q: I think we can all relate to packaging that does a great job keeping the product intact but is frustrating to get open. That isn’t helpful! Do materials change in packaging?
A: The materials used in packaging are not changing very often. Plastic, Paper, Metal and Wood are the main materials. Innovations are in the designs of these materials. Ease of opening is definitely a consideration in many designs. Right now there is a lot of talk about recyclable materials. The tricky part is balancing the cost with the recyclability. Things haven’t quite caught up just yet.
Q: That is a challenge. Have you seen a lot of changes in your business over the years?
A: Especially in 2020! Packaging became even more essential as people were ordering more online. Our food manufacturing clients really had to be effective at getting their products to clients and customers.
With advanced manufacturing has come the ability to model products digitally. That has been incredible for us because we can now take that digital file, create a digital package, send those results back to the client, and turn around a design in a day. We may not know what the product is or does, but with just the stress points and fragility, we can create the packaging.
We have a full time design team and artist on staff so we can produce full color samples and prototypes as well.
And with that we can also design the tooling required to manufacture the packaging. M-LINE is a leader in this area of packaging design. We have been designing packaging “virtually” for years.
Q: That is so cool! Are there any projects you can tell us about?
A: Absolutely! We work in pretty much every industry. One project we did was for field technicians. They would throw their tools into a generic toolbox. We created a new insert and tool case that made a place for everything and everything in its place. This has reduced tools lost to being left at a job site, wear and tear on the tools, and the technicians can easily find what they need making their service calls more efficient. It is a big win for packaging.
Another time we were asked to help design packaging for a part that was valued at 2 million dollars. Obviously, the client could not give us the product. So they sent us the digital shell of the product and we designed the packaging without ever having the physical product itself. We were able to design the packaging digitally to get it where it needed to go without a problem.
Q: How do you get your clients?
We have an active sales team to work closely with our clients. Our sales team acts as project managers and consultants for each job. They learn the specific needs of each client to make sure M-LINE meets all the requirements. For that field service technician project, we presented to the client exactly how we could solve multiple problems for all their field service workers. That takes person-to-person communication.
We do get a lot of customers through referrals from existing customers. M-LINE has been establishing its reputation and a leader in custom packaging solutions since 1987.
Q: To what do you attribute your success?
A: Our goal is to make difficult packaging challenges easy for our clients. We are always investing and looking for ways to be better at that goal. Our success depends on our customers success and satisfaction.
Q: And what do you see in your future?
A: With autonomous vehicles and drone delivery options being discussed, we are expecting significant changes in packaging. Packages with handles may or may not be necessary depending on how the loaders / unloaders are designed. And it may be more efficient to pack trucks differently depending on how they will be handled. It is something we are watching closely.
The sustainability discussion will definitely continue. Right now the trend is away from plastic. We expect to see that continue.
And we will continue to see a focus on doing more with less. That will never change in packaging.
Whatever the changes, we know M-Line with be here to solve problems for their customers.
To learn more about M-Line’s Custom Packaging Solutions, please visit: www.m-line.com