The Buffalo Niagara Partnership represents nearly 2,000 members and a quarter of a million employees in the Buffalo Niagara region.
To celebrate our members and their accomplishments, we have started a Member Spotlight blog series.
This month, we are proud to recognize and celebrate a company that is actively involved in our CanAm Council, Gunther Mele Packaging.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Ken Saeckl, Chief Operating Officer, to learn more about what Gunther Mele Packaging does and why they’re happy to be a member of the Partnership.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me, Ken. While I know that Gunther Mele Packaging is a leader in the retail packaging industry, I would like to learn more about the history and mission of the organization.
Ken Saeckl, C.O.O
A: Thank you, Julia, for the opportunity to share. We are proud of the fact that the company was founded in 1857, under the original name of E&A Gunther Company. The original business focused solely on the retail jewelry trade and used the tagline of “Providing everything for the jeweler except the jewelry.”
Today, we are known as Gunther Mele Packaging and we continue to provide complete packaging and display solutions to jewelry retailers and manufacturers. However, we also sell through all other channels of retail including gifts, apparel, wine and spirits, confectionery and beauty.
Branding has become the way for retailers to distinguish themselves in this competitive environment and our mission is to partner with retailers and manufacturers that realize the importance that their packaging can have on a brand’s success.
We have a talented team that works with our customers to provide beautiful and functional, branded packaging that defines their brand image and conveys their brand message. One of our more current taglines, and one of my personal favorites, is: “Packaging Speaks, what would you like yours to say?”
Q: That’s a great tagline. So, I know that you recently joined the Partnership in 2013. What inspired you to become a member?
A: We were inspired by what we saw as the numerous potential benefits, particularly with respect to issues related to operating businesses in both Canada and the U.S.
While we have only been a member for a year, we just renewed last month, as we have found a lot of value in our membership.
Q: I’m happy to hear that! Since joining as a member of the Partnership, what specific benefits have you received or experienced?
A: As a business that operates in both Canada and the U.S., we have found wonderful resources in the Partnership to assist us with human resources, insurance, cross-border trade issues, cross-border immigration issues and cross-border taxation issues, to name a few.
In particular, the CanAm council has been a great resource for making relevant connections to assist us in many of our cross-border issues.
In fact, I’ve been so impressed with what the CanAm council has to offer, that I have accepted the role of Co-Chair of the council and am working with them to increase membership which will in turn, increase the value of the Council’s offerings.
Q: I’m excited to hear of your involvement with the CanAm council, as many of our members find it to be very beneficial for their cross-border operations. What current challenges or opportunities does Gunther Mele Packaging face that you think the Partnership might be able to play a role in?
A: We engage in a lot of cross-border transactions and in the past several years, we have had some specific challenges in dealing with one specific governmental agency, who will remain nameless.
As we continue to work with that agency to resolve one final significant issue that we have, we know that the resources available from the council and Partnership members are there for us to draw on.
Q: It’s great to hear how knowledgeable you are of the resources we offer. So, have you had any recent accomplishments that you’d like the community to be aware of?
A: Over the past couple of years, we transitioned our Buffalo, NY sales office from a world-war era rudimentary building to professional office space on Millersport Highway in Amherst.
The new space much better reflects the professionalism that our entire team works with, and allows us to meet with potential customers in a welcoming setting.
Gunther Mele’s new offices
As a company, we receive a lot of donation requests. However, we have chosen to focus on worthwhile causes that focus on children, particularly those that are located within close proximity to any of our locations.
I am particularly proud of our employee-led initiatives to hold monthly coffee breaks for charity. Each month, two or three employees choose a charity, put together a home-made basket of goods and serve them with coffee and tea over a morning coffee break.
All proceeds go to the charity of their choice, and I think the initiative says a lot about the caliber of team members that we are fortunate to have working with us.
Speaking of our team members, earlier this year we celebrated the 65 year anniversary of one of our employees! While the wonderful lady (pictured below) has reduced her working hours to three days a week, after 65 years of service she still has no desire to retire.
Q: That’s remarkable. I’m sure that your culture plays a big role in her desire to continue working. It’s also great to hear that you provide your employees with opportunities to support charities that are meaningful to them.
A: Thank you.
Left to right: Gail Darling (HR Administrator,) Yvonne Gard (65-year employee) and Darrell King (President & CEO)
Q: Are there any other current opportunities for employment or involvement with Gunther Mele Packaging?
A: We are always on the look out for exceptional people with a genuine interest in working with us.
Currently, we are in the process of continuing to expand our Buffalo office and we have a specific opening for another internal sales representative to join our team.
Q: What are you most looking forward to benefiting from as a member of the Partnership in the upcoming year?
A: Personally, I’m looking forward to continuing my role as Co-Chair of the CanAm Council with the goal of working towards building council membership.
I know that my continued work with the council and the Partnership will provide me with additional, valuable contacts and information that will assist both myself and Gunther Mele Packaging with business issues into the future.
Interested in being a part of our Member Spotlight blog series? Contact our Content Marketing Specialist, Julia Jornsay-Silverberg.