How to reach the top

What does it take to become the top-selling copy paper brand in the US? Paul LeBlanc, VP of Paper at Packaging Corporation of America, answers OPI's questions about the journey to the number one spot.


OPI: Top-selling brand is a bold claim. How do you back this up?

Paul LeBlanc: We start with data from market research company The NPD Group, which is the leader in syndicated tracking services across more than 20 industries. Based on its analysis of the US paper market, Boise Paper is the top-selling brand.* We then look at our own internal data to determine which of our brands come out on top in their respective segments.

OPI: And you have not one brand but two, correct?

PLB: Yes, two. X-9 is the top-selling mill-branded copy paper and ASPEN is the top-selling brand with recycled content.

OPI: From your vantage point, what are the drivers that moved these brands to the top?

PLB: There are several, but if I am pointing my finger at the most important, it’s our focus on building strong customer relationships. Our entire team, from sales reps and logistics analysts to technical experts at the mills – absolutely everyone – is engaged in helping our customers. We spend a lot of time researching the market and understanding what end users want. We’ve built a considerable amount of that knowledge into our marketing for these products, and we collaborate with our customers to help them leverage that brand value.

Next is product quality and consistency. The folks at our mills work extremely hard to engineer products that perform in the top tier. There’s a lot of pride that goes into our products, so we make sure they are rigorously tested – both internally and through an independent third party – against strict standards. When we put the Boise Paper name on a product, we guarantee it will perform whatever the job. End users really like that both X-9 and ASPEN have 99.99% Jam Free guarantees.

OPI: I can imagine! Do you have a secret for consistently delivering that level of performance?

PLB:(laughs) Yes, and our paper makers want me to keep it that way.

In all seriousness, making great paper involves a whole lot of science and a little gut instinct. It also takes a commitment to sustainable practices that ensures we’ll be around to do business in the future. We are actively engaged – through certifications, policies and initiatives – in not only addressing environmental sustainability issues, but also economic and social factors as well. Consumers these days want to be engaging with brands that align with their values, so our Paper with Purpose promise means a lot to them.  

OPI: Anything else you think is important for OPI readers to know?

PLB: We’ve got a great supply chain. Being made here in the US means that whether customers are buying cartons off a distributor’s floor or ordering a direct-ship truckload, our products are stocked and available when they need them. It also means when they call or email, there is a responsive customer service person on the other end who knows their business and is genuinely interested in finding the best solutions for them.

*Source: The NPD Group/US Total Channel Tracking Service/Technology Paper/Based on Dollar Sales/January 2014 – January 2018