Champion Packaging and Distributing, Inc. was founded in the fall of 1989 by Thomas J. Pecora. Armed with 2,000 square feet, one filling line and a single truck to make deliveries, Champion began producing Windshield Washer Solvent for local service stations and parts houses. At the time, much of the filling process was still manual and when Tom wasn’t out on a sales call, ordering raw materials, or managing the day-to-day affairs of the business, he could be found standing shoulder to shoulder with his staff, capping and packing bottles by hand. Tom instilled a commitment to quality, service and value in his operation and in time, Champion would be known as the premier packager of Windshield Washer Solvent in the Midwest.
Tom realized the seasonal nature of Windshield Washer Solvent and knew he would have to seek out additional products to package in order to support Champion’s year round business activities. Within 8 short months of opening Champion, Tom’s insatiable entrepreneurial spirit led him to what would be the perfect complement to his seasonal Windshield Washer Solvent—Pool Shock. With a customer focused blueprint already in place, Champion’s Pool Shock business exploded in growth.
Champion’s customer base rapidly expanded and so too did the demand for products and the space needed to support such production volumes. Tom needed more space for his operation and as a result, a new 40,000 square foot facility was built. With more space available, Tom was able to add an additional filling line and began automating the packaging process with the purchase of automatic capping equipment and conveyor systems. The efficiencies gained through automation quickly pointed out the next bottle neck to Tom’s operation—a consistent stream of high quality plastic bottles.
As Champion continued to grow, it became more difficult to manage the logistics, quality and service of the plastic bottles Champion was purchasing from outside vendors. Tom knew that the only way to support his business the way his customers were accustomed to was by producing the bottles internally. In 1995, Tom purchased his first blow molding machine which shifted the responsibility of producing a high quality consistent supply of plastic bottles on the vendor he and his customers trusted best, Champion Packaging. This allowed Champion to further reduce costs while offering even higher quality products. Champion continues to add blow molders to its operation even today in support of its continued growth.
Word traveled fast that Tom was producing his own bottles, and soon other packagers began to show interest in purchasing the high quality plastic bottles for their own operations. Tom was quick to act and created a separate division of Champion that would fulfill this need. He knew that the quality he demanded internally would carry over into this new division and that these new customers would finally have a blow mold vendor that understood how important a high quality bottle is to not only plant efficiency but also brand quality. Like Tom’s other products, the blow mold business flourished.
As Champion Packaging continued to expand and become more vertically integrated, other companies began inquiring about co-packing their products. It didn’t take Tom long to see the value and growth in the private label business and once again the entrepreneur in him jumped in the co–pack business with both feet. Sharing the same success of Tom’s other ventures, Champion’s co-pack business expanded exponentially and is currently responsible for producing and shipping some of North Americas most recognized national brands coast to coast. Product categories range from but not limited to automotive, household chemical, industrial, janitorial, home care, marine, and pool products.
Tom made it clear early in Champion’s beginning that no one in the company was above good old fashioned hard work, a theme that still resonates today. He often shares the simple phrase “I put my pants on just like you do…one leg at a time” to drive home the importance of a team environment where hard work wasn’t excluded just because of a title. This simple phrase not only earned the commitment of his staff but also his customers who see Tom as a trusted business partner not just another vendor. Today Champion occupies over 480,000 square feet with its two manufacturing facilities, a distribution center as well as its own transportation fleet.