Family matters in medical packaging: Beacon Converters celebrates its 60th year

December 20, 2015

6 Min Read
Family matters in medical packaging: Beacon Converters celebrates its 60th year

Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News staff

This June at Medical Design & Manufacturing East in New York City, DuPont Medical Packaging honored Beacon Converters with an award in recognition of Beacon's 60th anniversary. Karen Polkinghorne, North American marketing manager, medical packaging, presented the award during DuPont's annual hospitality event.

Michael Scholla, senior consultant for DuPont and a PMP News EAB member, explained later: "There are large converters and there are small converters. Beacon is a small family-owned converter that has all the benefits of a large converter. The firm has always been at the forefront of developing and testing new products and has invested time and resources in industry organizations. It started with Bill [Daly], who was a founder of the Sterile Packaging Manufacturers Council (SPMC). Jackie [Daly Johnson] is active in SPMC and is cochair for AAMI Packaging Working Group 7--not something you would expect from a small company. It pays off when customers see that people at Beacon helped write the standards and ISO 11607 Technical Information Report." 

Beacon Converters opened for business 60 years ago when its founders saw an opportunity to improve product and services for the food packaging market. With the help of three generations, the company evolved from its humble beginnings into a flourishing medical packaging company. In 2003, Beacon Converters was certified by the New Jersey Commerce & Economic Growth Commission as a Small Business Enterprise, and in 2004 was certified as a Woman-Owned Enterprise.

How does a relatively small player survive such changes as business cycles from centralized to decentralized purchasing and engineering, reverse auctions, and corporate mergers and acquisitions? Its approach is to stay on course when it comes to service and quality--things that are always important despite the customer's business model.

In a changing world, Beacon Converters has been remarkably stable. "We have customers who often report being on a proverbial rollercoaster with new representatives every six months to a year and no continuity with other components that they source," says Kathleen Daly Mascolo. "At Beacon, we have very low turnover. In many cases, the same buyer or engineer has worked with the same team for more than a decade. We know our customers, and we know their history."

Stable doesn't translate into stagnation. One medical packaging veteran summarized, "Beacon Converters is a small company, but it has a can-do attitude and has come up with some innovative materials."

Adds a materials manager for another medical device manufacturer: "Beacon has been our supplier for 24 years. They are successful because they work so hard at helping us be successful. Beacon develops products to meet specific challenges, provides extensive technical support, and really knows our company's needs."

The Daly family is not the only family that is behind the scenes at Beacon. Vilma Prieto, quality improvement specialist, has been at Beacon for 16 years. Her sister, Hilda Lugo, has been the package QA supervisor, guiding pouch production for almost 20 years. Their mother, Hilda Diaz, works in the pouch room, and Vilma's daughter, Mari, has been a member of the customer service team for more than five years. In total, there are 14 different family groups at Beacon. More than half of Beacon's employees work with at least one relative. Working at Beacon is more than just a job or even a career�it is being part of a family, and that type of dedication shows.

"I find Beacon to be very customer oriented," says a senior manufacturing engineer. "At all levels of the Beacon organization, I find them to be quick and accurate responders when it comes to my needs."

In 2006, Alison Tyler joined Beacon Converters as technical director after working in the healthcare packaging industry for 10 years. "After joining DuPont Medical Packaging, my very first customer visit was to Beacon Converters. I learned so much from the people at Beacon over the years that I considered my years as its account manager as an extension of my education."

Beacon has a collaborative relationship with all of its suppliers, allowing Beacon to benefit from a tremendous supplier base of knowledge. "Even though my career up to this point has been with very large companies, which certainly afforded me incredible opportunities to learn and grow personally and professionally, I always knew that the benefits of a small company would eventually win me over," says Tyler.

"Additionally, I find that the balance that Beacon provides me in my personal and professional life is second to none. There is a high price to be paid for burnout and imbalance. Eventually it impacts one's ability to perform and in the long run benefits no one."

Beacon is very active in industry committees and activities, with Jackie Daly Johnson serving as the cochair to AAMI Packaging Working Group 7. She is also involved in ASTM standards development.

This year also marked the occasion of Beacon's first annual technical conference, L&K Providence, which sold out. The conference included speakers from several companies and covered topics including ISO 11607, worst-case packaging scenarios, heat sealing, sterilization, thermoforming, and more. "It was a very successful event, and the feedback was strong from the participants. We didn't know what to expect, and we didn't advertise the event. We took inspiration from questions that our customers struggle with and some of the challenges that face our customers and pulled together an outstanding group of speakers to address each of the challenges," explains Mascolo.

Adds Johnson: "We truly had world-class speakers at the event that made it a success. It was a more informal setting compared with some other technical conferences. Although it sold out, we kept it small enough that questions were welcomed and speakers were highly accessible throughout the day. One of the differences was that we had numerous breaks to allow people to refresh, interact with each other, and really be in the right mind-set to learn."

Beacon was founded in 1947 as Beacon Paper Bag Co. William P. Daly, the son of one of Beacon's founders, William F. Daly, worked part time as a student in various jobs in the plant and then joined full time in 1957. William was CEO of Beacon until his retirement in 2002. During his leadership, William P. Daly became the founding chairman of the SPMC. Daly instilled his business vision in his three daughters, who now run the company: Jackie Daly Johnson, president and CEO; Kathleen Daly Mascolo, vice president, marketing and sales; and Terri Daly Shank, project manager, IT and marketing.

Johnson joined Beacon in 1982 after graduating from Georgetown University. She is an integral member of SPMC's technical committee and was most recently named cochair for AAMI Packaging Working Group 7, the committee that is responsible for writing the AAMI Technical Information Report for ANSI/AAMI/ISO 11607-1:2006, Packaging for terminally sterilized medical devices Part 1: Requirements for materials, sterile barrier systems and packaging as well as ANSI/AAMI/ISO 11607-2:2006, Packaging for terminally sterilized medical devices Part 2: Validation and requirements for forming, sealing, and assembly processes.

Mascolo joined the company in 1988 upon her graduation from Boston College. She directs Beacon's marketing and sales team. Kathleen is also an active member of SPMC and is currently chairwoman of the SPMC Marketing Group.

Shank joined her sisters at Beacon in 2004 after spending years in industry in marketing, information technology, and Web development. Terri has brought a wealth of knowledge and state-of-the-art systems to Beacon.

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