Business reflects on strong community links ahead of 33rd birthday

Stevenage Packaging Ltd works in partnership with the Stevenage Community Trust

Stevenage Packaging Ltd works in partnership with the Stevenage Community Trust - Credit: Stevenage Packaging Ltd

A Stevenage business which celebrates its 33rd birthday this year has been reflecting on its success, having been closely linked to the Comet and the wider community since 1989.

Stevenage Packaging Limited was started by Rob Stewart and his wife Hilary in 1989 – when Rob was just 23.

Since then, the business has gone on to win four Comet-backed business awards, posted profit every year and developed a large client base including PLC’s and a number of FTSE 100 Companies.

Rob and Hilary's son Callum - managing director - said: “I was born in Stevenage and live here raising my own family, so I am extremely proud to be part of a successful family business which has employed three generations; with my grandparents Jan Vallis and Alan Maynard both having worked in the business into their 90s.

Stevenage Packaging Ltd has recently acquired Stewart House in Primett Road

Stevenage Packaging Ltd has recently acquired Stewart House in Primett Road - Credit: Stevenage Packaging Ltd

"In our 33rd year we have acquired Stewart House in Primett Road and to celebrate we are dedicating office space to The Stevenage Community Trust and its new personal membership scheme where volunteers can be based over the coming months."

The company has had strong community links from the outset - in 1990, it helped found the Stevenage Community Trust - which Rob has chaired for the last decade.

Stevenage Packaging Ltd factory

Stevenage Packaging Ltd factory - Credit: JK Photography

It is 19 years since Rob and Hilary founded the charity Uniqueness in 2003. The charity has helped more than 6,000 young people, prolific offenders and young entrepreneurs in Stevenage. The new premises at Stewart House will provide young people with office space to launch their businesses.

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Callum said: “Stevenage Packaging is a company that cares about people, team, suppliers, customers and the wider community in which we live and work.

"Our dedication to the local community is ingrained in what we do as we understand we have a duty of care as part of Stevenage’s history,”

As a supplier of specialist NHS products, during the pandemic, the team at Stevenage Packaging worked extremely hard, often working long hours to meet the urgent demand and with the added resource required, and were able to create many jobs for local people affected by the pandemic.

The company has expanded over the last three years and now operates across three sites, employing 80 people with a warehouse and distribution facility in Suffolk, and a recently acquired polythene manufacturing plant in the East Midlands which produces recyclable polythene to the food industry, and products for the NHS.

Callum continued: "The fact that we are one of only 11,329 companies still trading from the 130,650 companies incorporated in 1989 speaks volumes for how hard running a company is.

“My father always says the greatest prize in business is longevity."

As well as employing three generations, Stevenage Packaging also has team members who have spent their entire career at the business.

Senior business manager Emma Amondsen is in her 23rd year at Stevenage Packaging. “I joined the company at 16 and had my first company car at 19. At 22, I took delivery of a brand new BMW and bought my first home,” she said.

“I am still inspired, enthused and excited to work here in my 23rd year. I think that this is the best opportunity in Hertfordshire and we are always looking for talented hard-working local individuals to join our team.”

Customer service manager Sarah Kotei, a former Barnwell student, said: “I am now in my 24th year with Stevenage Packaging.

"The company has rewarded and supported me both in business and personally, far above and beyond what would be expected of any business.

"Internal growth and promotion are fully supported and encouraged, so you can constantly grow, learn and invest in your own commercial growth.

"In three words I would describe the company as unique, ambitious and caring.”

Callum added: “I’m not surprised that we have two long-serving team members who have worked for the company for more than 20 years since joining at 16 years old – plus many more who have exceeded that four-year average.”

Rob and Hilary also had other successful businesses in the town, including Genetics Gymnasium Ltd and Happy Mechanics Limited – a start-up home-based accountancy practice – which they grew by 2,250 per cent in its first year.

Speaking about Rob, Hilary and Stevenage Packaging, Chairman Sir Eric Peacock said: “Stevenage Packaging proved during the pandemic what a rare example of a truly entrepreneurial business it is.

"By being focussed on an exceptional customer experience, continuous innovation and creativity, they have won more than 40,000 new customers over the last two years.

"Its unique culture was demonstrated each day since COVID-19 impacted ordinary people in their homes and each member of our team were empowered to gift free PPE to individuals or organisations in desperate need of PPE during the height of the pandemic.”