Giving boxes a new lease on life
Box Latch is fruit of Wilsons’ labor

By Chris Bucher - Freeman Staff

Dec. 1, 2016

The Box Latch Products team with a certificate of completion from ExporTech on Nov. 18 at Waukesha County Technical College. From left to right, Box Latch co-founder James Wilson, marketer Lisa Geason-Bauer, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and co-founder Jack Wilson.
Submitted photo

PEWAUKEE — Jack Wilson was helping a friend craft a new product when he suddenly realized something which altered his career path for life: Most cardboard boxes are used just once.

Quickly, Wilson recognized there’s a need and a market for a unique product, which allows users to reseal and reuse boxes for multiple use, thus saving customers money in the process.

So Wilson linked up with his brother, Jim, and created a company known as Box Latch Products. The main item for sale is a plastic-based product that enables its users to get a firm seal on corrugate-box seams. It attaches between a box’s seam, closing it and sealing it without having to use tape.

The Box Latch is a product Jack said is aimed at businesses. For the first time, it gives them a sustainable option for reusing boxes.

A Box Latch produced by Box Latch Products is used on cardboard boxes to reseal and reuse them. The product is made in Pewaukee by Jack and James Wilson.
Submitted photo

“There’s never been a good, simple way to close and reopen boxes,” Jack Wilson said. “Businesses think they’re doing this wonderful thing about recycling, but that’s not sustainable. It takes 60 percent of the energy and water required to make a box to recycle it for it only to be used once.”
 

Seizing an opportunity

According to the company’s website, BoxLatch.com, 90 percent of all cardboard boxes are used just once. And with an average cost of over $1 per box, businesses often spend an abundance of money purchasing them.

Therefore, the Wilsons saw an opportunity to market themselves to businesses across the globe in an effort to remain sustainable for the future and help reduce environmental footprints. In collaboration with his friend’s patent which had a similar objective, the two brothers worked up a simple design for the product and began producing and marketing it out of Pewaukee.

“In 100-plus years, we never could find a product to (close a box) and with the interest in moving toward sustainability, I felt there was a market for this type of product,” Jack Wilson said. “The design that I came up with worked and we used his (friend’s) patented application as one of our products. But it opened my eyes there’s a market for the product, there’s nothing available like it that we’re aware of.”

With extensive farming backgrounds in rural Wisconsin, the Wilsons used their knowledge to form the company, create a usable product and work toward making it grow.

“A flower starts with a bud and then it gradually opens into a partial bloom and then the beauty is the full bloom,” Jack Wilson said. “As a startup company, it’s a low-tech type of idea with high-tech ideas in terms of return on investment and reusing.

“It’s been something else to see this dream form.”
 

B Corp certification

And the Wilsons’ dream has continued to evolve, as recently it received certification as a B Corp. A B Corp certification is reserved for for-profit companies that meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Currently, there are more than 1,600 of these types of companies from 42 countries, with Box Latch Products becoming just the fourth in Wisconsin to do so. Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream are two of the bigger-name companies that are certified as B Corps.

“Our motto since we started was ‘Changing the way the world closes and reuses boxes,’” Jack Wilson said. “My brother and I refer to each other as the Box Latch brothers; we don’t have a background in business but we saw this opportunity and went for it.”

With the certification now in hand, the Wilsons continue to see the fruits of their labor, expanding globally by enrolling and graduating from ExporTech, an educational program which helps businesses grow their reach into international markets. The program is delivered in partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Center for Manufacturing and Productivity.

Email: cbucher@conleynet.com