Meet Ken Beckerman – President of Flexcon Container Corporation
Ken Beckerman wasn’t the first President of Flexcon Container Corporation, but he certainly took the company under his wing when he arrived. Flexcon provides Containers, bulk boxes, plastic pallets, dividers and dunnage for virtually any need to most any type of medium and large business. It sells new and used containers that can completely transform the supply chain process.
We had a chat with Ken about his work at Flexcon Container Corporationand what makes his company different from other companies across the competitive landscape:
Q: Let’s start with the history of Flexcon Container. Can you tell us a little bit about how it got started and where it is now?
Ken: “So, Flexcon Container is over 50 years old now. We started as just a custom packaging house. About 40 years ago, automation really took off, and distribution centers were being developed. We kept getting asked to do things other than packaging, and at first, we would turn these clients away because we didn’t offer those services. Eventually, we said, “Why are we turning them away? Let’s try to help.” So that’s what we did. We took each situation case by case, and we’d have to innovate a little with each one. Eventually, all of the innovation took over the custom packaging. We still do the custom packaging, of course, but now our business is a lot more than that. We supply distribution centers, factories, and warehouses. It’s become our core.”
Q: And when did you start making that shift?
Ken: “It happened slowly, starting maybe 35 years ago.”
Q: And how long have you been with the company?
Ken: “I’ve been with the company 33 years; president for 17 years. I started out in sales, then I was the plant manager, then a product manager and sales manager then finally became President. Worked my way up.”
Q: So right when you got there, that was really the beginning of the shift.
Ken: “Yes, but very slowly.”
Q: So that’s the company’s past. What about the future? Where do you see the industry and the company moving?
Ken: “Right now, we’re working on somdething called “container supply chain.” This means that we provide containers, bulk boxes pallets and dunnage solutions from point A to point Z. Say you have a distribution center for beauty products. We’d provide them with all of the bulk box containers they need, like boxes, plastic pallets, and dividers for the whole operation. Our container solutions would be there from when the goods come in, to when they’re stored, and finally when they’re shipped. We’d offer the complete package.”
Q: How integrated are you with supply chain management? Do you get involved with the software as well?
Ken: “Sometimes. We only get involved in the software when it has to do with barcode technology, RFID, and things like that.”
Q: Gotcha. So, have you moved to a lot of automated solutions, like automated totes instead of manual picking?
Ken: “Yep. But there’s also plenty of manual stuff going on. Not everybody has 10 million dollars to spend on an automated ASRS system, but a lot of people are still looking to fill their warehouses with product. It depends on the client. We use whatever solution works best for them.”
Q: Do you find yourself working with any specific industry more than others?
Ken: “There’s a lot of dot-com fulfillment going on, obviously. But overall, we’re all over the place. We work with a lot of different industries.”
Q: You work with over 75 percent of the Fortune 500 companies, is that right?
Q: Has FlexContainer always been the one of the leaders in the space, or is that something that you’ve arrived at over time?
Ken: “It’s something that crept up on us. It goes back to the innovation. The thing that makes us different than anybody else is that we have a fully vertically integrated answer, so we can do anything. Almost all of our competitors will turn people away, saying, “We can do this, but we can’t do that,” or “If it’s not in our catalog, then we can’t help you.” We don’t do that, which is why we’re one of the top five sales companies.”
Q: Other than being a fully integrated solution, what else would you attribute that to?
Ken: “People appreciate that we’re family-owned and operated. We’ve actually got three generations of the same family working here. The other important thing is that we all care. When someone brings us into their fold, we help them from start to finish. It’s like the difference between pumping your own gas and going to a full-service gas station, where they pump it for you and clean your windshield without even asking. We always try to go the extra mile, and we develop relationships along the way. We try to make containers, plastic pallets, and bulk boxes the easiest part of their job so they can focus on the important stuff.
Q: That’s good. So, let me ask you about COVID-19. Has it impacted your business? Have you had to make any changes?
Ken: “The main state of our business hasn’t changed, but there have been a lot of immediate, urgent needs, so we’ve had to take care of those. When they set up those temporary hospitals, like McCormick Place in Chicago, Central Park and Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, they tapped us to provide them with products they needed immediately. We did a lot of that. We’ve also made safety changes, like offering our clients face shields.”
Q: Good. So, let’s turn the corner and talk about you for a minute. What is it that makes you excited to get out of bed and go to work in the morning?
Ken: “You know, I enjoy Monday as much as I enjoy Saturday, and it’s because of all the variety. I work with a variety of people and situations, and opportunities are always presented in new ways. The variety is a lot of fun, and it’s also a lot of fun to get client feedback. We send a survey with every order, and if there’s ever an issue, we respond to it right away. You know, it’s funny — I sit at a little 12×15 desk, but at the end of the day, I feel like I’ve been around the world because I’m talking to all sorts of people from all sorts of situations.”
Q: In terms of running your company, what might people be surprised to hear that you do?
Ken: “One minute, I’ll be talking about a multimillion-dollar contract, and the next minute, I’m involved in a $2,000 sale, but I’ll give both clients the same amount of attention and respect. People are surprised to learn that we’re focused on everyone, even all the way up to the top, but we know that a $2,000 sale can turn into something more if we do a good job. A lot of times in other organizations, the higher up you go, the less they want to hear from the smaller guys. But I’ll talk to anybody. If anybody wants something, I’m happy to be a part of it.”
Q: That’s great. Any last thing that you want people to know about Flexcon Container or about you?
Ken: “We really just want to make people’s lives better. The more we serve, the better our sense of satisfaction. We have a lot of people here who do charity work and to me, serving here is just as gratifying as any charity work that we do. There’s nothing better than going to a trade show and meeting people who tell us how we’ve helped them — that we’ve saved them space, or provided great quality, or helped them look good to their clients, their bosses and in turn helped their career. We love hearing from clients and knowing that we’ve helped them.”