When they launched Fusion Packaging in 2004, Jonathan Gross and Derek Harvey didn’t set out to create a recession-proof company.
Their hope was to break free from stagnant jobs at a food and beverage packaging company in Dallas and apply their drive and creativity to a trendier sector: skin care and cosmetics.
“It’s much harder to get customers, and there’s a longer sales process, but the reward is a lot higher,” Gross says.
Ever since they were fraternity brothers at the University of Arizona, Gross and Harvey knew they’d run a business together someday. The co-CEOs bring opposing skills—Gross leads operations and manufacturing, while Harvey heads up sales and marketing—but both have an equal appetite for reward and risk.
Women, they know, want to look beautiful, regardless of the economy. So skin care and cosmetics remain hot categories. For Fusion Packaging, that’s translated in recent years into annual growth of more than 20 percent.
The Dallas-based company specializes in so-called “airless” packaging, which means its containers are piston-driven and not controlled by a pump. That matters for two reasons. If you’re spending $70 an ounce on your anti-aging cream, you want to make sure every drop comes out. Plus, airless technology preserves the product by preventing oxygen from reaching the natural ingredients.
Fusion’s packaging designs have caught the attention of the major beauty players, including customers Mary Kay Cosmetics, Elizabeth Arden Arbonne International, and Laura Mercier. Fusion hopes to expand to international markets next.
Breaking into the majors was easier once Arbonne signed on as a customer about four years ago. Fusion Packaging resolved a pump problem for the Irvine, Calif.-based personal care and wellness company, and word began to spread.
“We look at them as problem-solvers and a source of innovation,” says Richard Estalella, senior vice president at Arbonne.
With most customers in New York City or California, Harvey says people ask him all the time why Fusion Packaging stays in Dallas.
“There’s an entrepreneurial feel here that gave us that early energy,” he says. “There’s a certain formula that works here, and there’s no guarantee it would work if we moved.”