Find Succes in a Box

3-year-old company expects $2 million in sales building boxes of all kinds

by Renee Ramirez

Albert Lanza cut out the perfect business for himself: a box-making company that caters to medium-sized businesses and specialty needs. It’s A niche he discovered while earning his MBA at UTEP.

Lanza sold boxes for another company as he worked his way through graduate school. Along the way, he studied the industry and wrote the business plan for his still-to-come company as his master´s thesis.

After graduating, he handed his thesis to a banker in 1993 and walked away with a loan. Now Lanza´s ICS Company, which makes boxes of all kinds to customer specifications, is among booming businesses cited on the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce´s Emerging 30 list.

Lanza expects more than 2 million in sales this year. “I don’t believe we´re successful at this point,”he says. “I think we have a lot more to grow.” In fact, Lanza says, “We´ve been doubling in size every year.”

He hopes now to reach out to markets farther west and to move south toward Monterrey, Mexico. ICS Packaging & Logistics currently serves about customers – mostly through vendors.

“We treat the small guys and the big guys the same,” Lanza says “We´re small, so we know how it feels”to be the little guy. 

Lanza, originally from Delaware, wound up as a lawyer in Venezuela. He pursued his MBA at UTEP because his parents are now living in El Paso.

He kind of slipped into the box business along with going to UTEP. He started ICS Packaging & Logistics with two employees in a 1,500-square-foot warehouse. Now the company has 15 employees working in 25,000 square feet.

“Making boxes isn’t rocket science,” Lanza says “You have to stress valued-added incentives – quick response time, quality of the item.”

Much of Lanza´s competition comes from national box-makers – many of whom own all aspects of the business,  even the trees, and paper mills.

When he first got into the business, Lanza says, he was surprised at how it was driven far more by industry leaders than by customer needs. But being smaller and locally owned, Lanza says he can twist and bend to meet the needs of his customers. 

“This industry has been dominated by two or three large companies that basically have their own way of marketing,” Lanza says.

“We had to get away from their shadow. We are customer-driven. We are customer-driven. We can do it when you need it and the quantity you want it.”

Lanza says his business has grown so rapidly because he’s able to do what no one else under their wing and teach them how to manufacture it.

That’s how ICS Packaging & Logistics got into plastic die-cutting.

And as more businesses head to the border to take advantage of free trade and Mexico´s lower labor costs, more supplies of all kinds – including boxes – are being purchased locally.

About 80 percent of Lanza´s boxes are taken to Juárez.

Then nearly every one of them comes back into the United States with products inside.

Lanza also sees opportunities with computer companies Relocating into the area – especially if their boxes are being made out of state. “I know I can save them money,” he says.

But the trick is “being able to talk to people and show them what we can do locally.”

Some of the items ICS Packaging & Logistics offers include corrugated boxes, folding cartons, pads, and partitions, foams, packaging design, die-cutting services, shipping items, and more. Lanza refers to his business as “the problem solvers.”

“No matter what you paper needs are, most likely we can solve them.

The ICS Visión 

“To be the acknowledged leader in our industry- the manufacturer and recycler of choice for both customers and suppliers- delivering creative and cost-effective procurement solutions on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border

ICS BOX

Packaging manufacturing packaging engineering returnable PKG.

ICS DE MÉXICO

Transmaq freight and transportation warehousing.

ICS SERVICES 

Maquila to maquila transfer Mexican customs handling logistics coordination. 

ICS RECYCLING

Paper and wood products direct Juarez waste handling vertical integration.