Sabert Corporation is a global leader and innovator in the food packaging industry. Since 1983, Sabert has been designing, manufacturing and distributing quality, cost-effective solutions for packaging, displaying, serving and storing fine food. The company, which is headquartered in Sayreville, New Jersey, employees 248 people. Sabert also has North American facilities in California and Kentucky, as well as manufacturing facilities in Belgium, Europe and Zhongshan, China.
Sabert’s founder, Albert Salama founded the company when he was 32 years old. Based on a vision he had, that lifestyles would eventually drive food choices just as much as taste and against the advice of friends and colleagues, he resigned from a position as vice president of a major global bank and began selling plastic food trays out of his apartment. He launched the company with his own modest savings and no investors, and it is now an industry frontrunner serving many businesses, from small independent caterers to multinational clients. The company’s original mission, to enhance and advance the way people enjoy food, continues to guide the company’s success today.
Over the past decade, Sabert’s annual sales revenue has grown significantly, with a compound annual growth rate of 16 percent. Along the way, Salama built new headquarters in Sayreville, and added or expanded facilities in Kentucky, California, Belgium and China. Today, Sabert is one of the largest providers of short-life food containers, and unlike its peers, almost all of its growth has been organic. Mr. Salama’s vision was on target and twenty-four years later, he received the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year™ 2014 Award.
Sabert has never rested on its laurels. In 2002 Albert Salama and two others from the company participated in a Lean Manufacturing workshop and followed up with New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program, Inc. (NJMEP) on a Product Development project.
When Sabert wanted to improve production efficiency they met with NJMEP. The company felt that the skills of their current workers needed improvement as well as communication between workers and workers and management. Low productivity as a result of inefficiencies was also a problem. Long changeovers of almost 2 hours negatively impacted production.
Although Sabert had a number of internal experts experienced in Lean, and a QA person with a black belt in Six Sigma the company wanted to work with NJMEP to design and implement a training plan for its workforce.
After assessing the needs of the client a plan to introduce Lean Manufacturing to Sabert was proposed and accepted. In addition to the Lean implementation plan, NJMEP identified the company as an excellent candidate for a New Jersey Department of Labor Customized Training Grant. Assisting in both the application and administration of the grant, NJMEP was able to make the implementation of Lean a simple and cost effective process. When asked about the grant process, Kregg Salvino, Director EHS, responded, “NJMEP assisted Sabert from start to finish with every NJ DOL requirement on this grant. They made the initial application submittal process very simple which we knew without their help would have been a nightmare.”
Over a course of one-year Sabert and NJMEP educated 107 employees in the principles and tools necessary for transitioning to a Lean organization. Courses included:
- Implementing Quick changeover
- Quality at the Source Tactics
- Implementing 5S for Workplace Organization
- Application in the Manufacturing process
- Financial benefits of Lean
- Team Building
Upon completion of the training the company’s employees were able to improve productivity by becoming more efficient in their practices i.e. changeover times were reduced and organizing the workplace based on 5S saved time and steps. In addition, communication throughout the organization improved as a result of the Team Building work.
When surveyed by an independent group 6-12 months after completion of the project on the impact the program had on its company, Sabert reported they:
- Achieved 2% in cost savings
- Increased sales by 9.3%
- Hired 10 new employees
- Invested $75,000 in workforce development and $500,000 in new processes and products
- Saved $ 73,600 in training cost as a direct result of the NJDOL investment in the company.
Kregg Salvino, Director EHS, Sabert Corp., spoke of his work with NJMEP, “NJMEP showed competence and experience in regard to the Lean Initiative in which they helped us implement. They demonstrated to us why they are considered one of the best Lean Implementation Experts in New Jersey. The project helped us identify wasted efforts and help us reduced costs in our manufacturing operations. We intend to utilize NJMEP on additional training and cost savings projects in the future.”