Craft brewers know the name Standard-Knapp for its high-tech packaging and processing equipment — case packers, case sealers, pick-and-place modules, bottle handlers and beyond. But the innovative and modern machinery maker actually started a long time ago in a Maryland town, focusing on the canned food industry.
In 1893, when the Fred H. Knapp Co. of Westminster, Md., placed its first gravity labelers on the market by introducing them at the World’s Fair National Convention of Canners in Chicago, the technology of preserving food in metal cans was relatively new. Canned foods were only just beginning to catch on with the general population; they had only been used in military contexts or by explorers at the advent of the technology in the beginning of the 19th century.
Despite the fact that the canning industry was still in its early stages, the Fred H. Knapp Co. recognized the industry’s potential for growth and released the Knapp gravity labelers, which mechanized the application of labels to round cans, followed in 1895 by the Knapp Boxer, a hand operated machine designed to pack cans into wooden boxes. For more than 10 years the Knapp Boxer was the only machine of its kind.
While the Fred H. Knapp Co. thrived as it continued to innovate in the field of can labeling and case packing, The National Binding Co. of New York City, a manufacturer of compression units for sealing cases as well as paper cutting and dispensing machines, declared bankruptcy in 1920 and its assets were taken over by its largest creditor, the Nashua Paper Co. of Nashua, New Hampshire. In 1921, employees of the defunct National Binding Co. purchased the compressions business from the Nashua Paper Co. for just $10,000 and formed the Standard-Sealing Equipment Co., a closed corporation.
In 1932, the Standard-Sealing Equipment Co. merged with the Fred H. Knapp Co., then located in Ridgewood, New Jersey, to form Standard-Knapp. Standard-Knapp became a part of the Emhart Mfg. company in 1947 and then the Anderson Brothers Mfg. Co. in 1979, before ultimately being purchased by the company’s employees in 1984, much as the Standard-Sealing Equipment Co. had been.
Still a private, employee-owned company, Standard-Knapp’s culture is entwined with its history of employee pride and ownership. The company’s employees work together in the occasional lean times to keep the company strong, and, more often, share the rewards of hard work in prosperous times.
The company has remained on the cutting-edge of the packaging industry ever since its first can labeler in 1893, with offerings constantly evolving to meet the demands of the ever-changing industry. With a current desire for packaging utilizing less materials sweeping the industry, Standard-Knapp has designed products to do more with less: tray packers like the 298 Tritium Trayshrink Wrapper that easily package unsupported cases, thereby eliminating the use of corrugate; packers like the Pic-N-Place that handle materials gently enough to eliminate bottle-to-bottle protection; and machinery designed to handle glass and plastic bottles manufactured with fewer materials just as easily as they did with the bottles’ more sturdy predecessors.
Meanwhile, as new machinery to meet modern packaging demands is provided to Standard-Knapp’s customers daily, the company’s vibrant history is kept alive in the form of machinery – 30, 40, 50 years old or older – still being used by customers.
For many companies, like craft breweries, Standard-Knapp machinery has been a part of their business from small beginnings up through major growth. As another example, Standard-Knapp provided a labeler to a small salt production company; decades later, the company is still using Standard-Knapp machinery, some of it 35 years old or more, but is currently one of the largest salt production companies in the United States.
Standard-Knapp continues to support these machines, providing parts and service to machinery still in operation regardless of how long since the product was manufactured. For instance, Standard-Knapp still provides parts and service to a company running a 1930s era labeler, even though the company hasn’t manufactured labeling machines in many years.
Throughout its history, Standard-Knapp and its parent companies have been proud to provide the highest quality packaging equipment at the cutting edge of the industry, with parts and service to match. Today, 120 years after the founding of the Fred H. Knapp Co., that vision continues as the company continue to innovate and support customers and their machinery.