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Made in our Hometown: Diamond Packaging and the Valentine's Day Connection

Updated: Thursday, July 11 2013, 12:53 PM EDT

Beyonce Heat. Godiva. Shania fragrance. This Valentine's Day, millions of Americans will deliver gifts to their valentines that come in glossy packages made right here in our hometown.

Diamond Packaging is responsible for making some of the industry's most ornate boxes and packages -- the kind that seem to jump right off the store shelves. We had a chance to go inside the Henrietta-based operation that has grown substantially over the past several decades. 

Roughly one million cartons a day come off the lines and presses at Diamond. (The company prefers the term "cartons" over "boxes".) It's an operation that now employs 225 people, with annual sales around $50 million.

And even during the roughest economic times, in 2008, Diamond was hiring.

"That's when they hired me," says Abram Cotton. "The value to me was just to find a job at the time. But once I got here, I found there was so much to offer at this printing company."

Joe Interlicchia, hired in 2004, agrees. "The guys I work with are like my family," he says. "They're great. I love these guys. And the management team here is second to none. Period. They treat us fairly, and you just can't find a better work environment." 

Many of the employees are surprised to find out -- when they first arrive at Diamond -- just how many brands get their packaging done here. Old Spice, Laureal, Elizabeth Arden, Procter & Gamble, Estee Lauder, Bausch & Lomb, and many more. But Diamond doesn't do it all; in fact, this is a company that routinely turns down potential work.

"We're not going after commodity-type packaging -- cereal boxes, cracker boxes, things like that," explains Dave Sydell, Chief Operating Officer. "We go after brands that really want to establish an identity. How do we do that? That's what we call a lot of value-added activity. We like to do hot-foil stamping, embossing, multi-colored printing, specialty coatings, things that will catch the consumer's eye." 

And so we asked some of the Diamond Packaging team: Have you ever been walking through a store and noticed your own packages catching your eye?

"Absolutely," Cotton says, smiling. "I see it all over the place. Tops, Price Rite, and I can say, 'You know what? I had a hand in that.'"

Interlicchia is constantly noticing a product he uses every day. "Gillette cartons," he says with a laugh. "Every time we walk in there, those cartons just glow off the shelf. I can see why our customers are attracted to them."

Diamond was founded in 1911 and, having just celebrated 100 years, also celebrated a successful transition of power. CEO Karla Fichter assumed control of the company from her longtime colleague -- her sister. And Fichter's father spent years at the helm of Diamond. "This is a true family company," Rydell says. 

When we met Fichter last month, she continually deflected credit to the employees. "How many companies say they're successful beacuse of the employees, but how many really mean it?" she said. "We can say with confidence that we're a locally-owned company and we have families that have depended on Diamond for decades. We're proud of that. That won't change."

So happy Valentine's Day. And who knows; maybe you're going home with a special package made in our hometown.

Made in our Hometown: Diamond Packaging and the Valentine's Day Connection

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