A Collaborative Approach Leads to a Simple Brownie Packaging Solution
The Killer Brownie® Company, a top manufacturer of gourmet brownies, needed to fulfill its customers’ requests for takeaway individually wrapped brownies. To meet Killer Brownie’s needs for a flexible, easy-to-use brownie packaging solution,
BW Flexible Systems (BWFS) delivered a Rose Forgrove Merlin Blu horizontal flow wrapper (HFFS) and provided constant guidance and training to the Killer Brownie team throughout the project and afterward. As a result of this partnership, Killer Brownie was able to:
- Unlock new product placement opportunities via individually-wrapped products
- Become self-sufficient in operating and maintaining their own packaging machinery
- Gain the packaging assets and relationships necessary to continue growing their capabilities in the future
New Avenues for Killer Brownie®
The Killer Brownie® Company was established in 1988 as a part of Dorothy Lane Market in Dayton, Ohio. As word caught on about these delectable
treats, the bakery became its own entity in 2013 and has seen tremendous growth ever since. In recent years, Killer Brownie has received countless requests to provide individually wrapped brownies for retail and other distribution channels. With little
experience in brownie packaging machinery, they sought an experienced partner.“We would send out samples to several buyers in different locations and we would individually wrap each brownie by hand,” said Chimene Mayne-Ross, President & COO of The Killer Brownie® Company. “We’d get tons of requests – ‘can you send it to us like this? Is it available like this?’ As we received more requests, we realized that we really needed to explore what individually wrapped packaging solutions looked like for us.”
In 2019, Mayne-Ross and Julia Hoy, Killer Brownie’s Director of Product Development and QA, were exploring packaging solutions at the International Baking Industry Exposition when
they met Phil Williams, a sales executive for BWFS. With several decades of flow-wrapping experience, specifically in baked goods, Williams and his BWFS colleagues were able to anticipate and answer several questions for Mayne-Ross and Hoy at
“At the beginning of our search, we definitely were impressed with what we saw at the show,” Hoy said. We probably talked with 6-8 companies at the show to discuss the possibilities. BW treated us very well. They didn’t just hand
us a card and say, ‘we’ll have this person contact you.’ They took the time to answer our questions and showed us how a product would run on the line.”
To kick off 2020, Killer Brownie sent samples to several suppliers from the tradeshow to test various flow wrap solutions. BWFS was the one company that responded with clarifying questions about Killer Brownie’s product.
“That was when we realized that they had really bought into what we wanted to do,” Hoy said.
Let the Testing Begin
Following the first samples, BWFS and Killer Brownie sent several samples back and forth, testing different brownies, films, and horizontal flow wrappers until they found a suitable packaging solution for Killer Brownie’s range of products.
What they were looking for was something that
was going to wrap everything because they have a plethora of different brownie products that they manufacture at their facility,” Williams said. “If you’re making 20 SKU’s and each one has different properties, we need
to understand how that’s going impact the product’s flow on the machines. They gave us a lot of opportunities to do some playing around with their product in the lab and that helped us formulate our recommendations.”
Following the tests, the two companies identified a set of requirements for the eventual solution:
- The machine needed to be very easy to clean and changeover due to allergen considerations.
- The solution needed to be simple to use because Killer Brownie was new to packaging machinery.
- The OEM needed to be a domestic partner that was easily accessible for future parts and service requests.
In addition to satisfying these requirements, BWFS leaned on its firsthand experience working in the brownie industry to make recommendations about the film specifications and other characteristics of the product package. For example, Glyn Sparks
– a BWFS application engineer – explained that the package would need a U-card to support and protect the brownies throughout distribution.
“I think sometimes we weren’t quite sure where we were going – we had never done individually wrapped products before and nobody within our company had ever done flow wrap,” Hoy said. “They gave us a great head start
into an area that we knew nothing about.”
Roll Out the Red Carpet
With the testing phase nearing its conclusion, Williams invited the Killer Brownie team to visit BWFS’ headquarters in Duncan, South Carolina. This is known across Barry-Wehmiller as a Red-Carpet Welcome.
“Our product manager and one of our managers went down there and we were just blown away by the culture and the way they treated our team members as guests,” Mayne-Ross said. “When they returned, they brought back a book about BW’s
culture – Everybody Matters – which I read cover-to-cover and has now become one of the most important books of my
A manifestation of the Barry-Wehmiller culture, the Red-Carpet Welcome is conducted to show customers that who they are and what
they do matters. The welcome includes a tour of BW’s manufacturing facilities, introductions to each member of BW project team, and ample opportunities for both parties to become acquainted with one another. It’s an extension of BW’s
commitment to taking care of the people who make doing business possible.
“It’s not a transactional experience, it’s a relationship,” Williams said. “We want you to know when you walk through those doors, you’re important to us.”
Like the Barry-Wehmiller culture, Killer Brownie’s company culture prioritizes caring for people. During BWFS’s follow-up interview with the Killer Brownie team, Mayne-Ross expressed the importance of supporting a company’s team
members as a way of helping the business organically take care of itself.
“The most important part is to take care of the people who are under your care,” she said. “We saw immediately that that was an important part of the BW culture as well. We knew if they were taking care of their employees and empowering
them and if they were happy, that they would be a great partner for us because they would be people who enjoy their work and want to support us as a customer.”
A Long-Term Partnership
Followed by much excitement and adulation from Killer Brownie’s customers, the bakery announced its new capabilities to individually wrap brownies in the summer of 2021. Even before the product’s official launch, Killer Brownie had secured several customers across fast-casual cafes and
“The exciting part of breaking into some of these channels is where we’re seeing interest where we couldn’t help people before,” Mayne-Ross said. “We feel like we’ve entered a whole new chapter in our company’s
story by having this product available.”
Killer Brownie identified four fan-favorite flavors to individually wrap at the start. When identifying requirements for the eventual solution, however, BWFS and Killer Brownie agreed that the flow wrapper would need to be able to accommodate several
other recipes as the individually wrapped part of their business continued to grow. While the program is still relatively new, Killer Brownie projects that they’ll see a minimum of 5-10% growth in the individually wrapped part of their business
alone in the coming year. View the adjacent video to learn more about the service and support BWFS has provided.
“We knew that we wanted to start at a certain place in a certain capacity and we knew we wanted to build out from there,” Mayne-Ross said. “We were looking for a company that would be able to offer us that in the equipment and the
long-term support. They haven’t disappointed.”