Legend has it that Specialty Box & Packaging has its roots in a poker game.
My great grandfather Sam Fialkoff was owed a debt that could not be paid. Finally, Grandpa Sam agreed to settle the debt by accepting a piece of die-cutting machinery. The machinery made shirt boxes for laundry companies and thus a packaging business was born.
The shirt box business was short lived but the idea of building a specialty packaging business lived on with Sam’s son and my grandfather Leonard. Leonard phoned David (my Father) who’d just graduated from Ithaca College and said, “Son, I want you to start a packaging business with me.” David, who’d had great dreams of becoming a ballet dancer (OK, I made that one up) agreed to join up with his dad. David did manage to fulfill his dancing dreams many years later performing on the stage of Proctor’s Theater (NO, I’m not making that one up). David, when asked why he started a packaging business rather than chase his own dreams, stated simply, “My dad needed me so I said yes.”
Specialty Box & Packaging took on many faces throughout the years. What started as a shirt box company became a full-service packaging provider to department stores. As department stores became a thing of the past, Specialty Box & Packaging assisted mom-and-pop retailers with their packaging needs.
A new type of growth came when, in 1993, the third generation hopped on board. My brother Jason moved Specialty Box & Packaging into both the catalog business and the candy business. Ever the entrepreneur, Jason also pursued growing Specialty Box through starting new businesses. We opened up Specialty Box & Packaging South in Florida, CustomTakeOutBags became our restaurant and resort division, Chef Rags was a business that offered custom clothing for restaurants, The Packaging Café and Dream Pak were companies geared toward serving other packaging distributors.
I climbed on board in 2002. My time as a lowly paid youth pastor uniquely prepared me to navigate Specialty Box to just make it through financially tumultuous times that reared their ugly head beginning in 2008. And after almost selling the majority share of our family’s 40 year old business, it was time, like never before, to passionately and playfully sell smiles. We believe that branded packaging is a company’s smile.
Soon, with that focus, we were blessed to enjoy tremendous growth in restaurant packaging. Jason, who works a room like none I know, inspired many new food service friends to partner with Specialty Box. It was with much surprise that we saw spots opening up for us at the tables of industry giants like Staples, Edward Don, Sysco Food Service and many others.
In 2018, the last of the Fialkoff brothers jumped on board. Josh was feeling ready for a shift out of software development, and I needed someone to scale the company. Together, with our incredible team, Josh and I work on preparing Specialty Box for the future. We hope to promote growth, nurture our family, and find ways to be a kind and responsible member of our global community.
The Specialty Box “About Us” story would be incomplete without highlighting some of our longest tenured team members from the past and the future. The names listed here all have more service time with Specialty Box than any of the three Fialkoff brothers. Daphne and Ray, both with over 20 years each on the job, still faithfully serve all who decide to play with Specialty Box. And the mere mention of Jimmy and Leo, close comrades and legendary Specialty Box family members, still fills me with awe as I remember watching them laugh, bicker and work in the warehouse while my brother and I climbed on mountains of smile filled corrugated boxes.
If you were a fly on the Specialty Box wall, you might occasionally hear the motto "We're number 2! We're number 2!" Spot 1 is always given to the person in front of us, whether a customer, vendor, partner, or stranger. When it comes down to it, it's not the packaging that's important, it's the people. And we are deeply grateful for all the folks we've gotten to know over the years under the pretense of "doing business." If you're already part of the family, we thank you. If you're not part of the family...well...everyone's family.
Eric Fialkoff Smile Distribution Manager
Smile Distribution Manager
Eric sells boxes and bags while seeking to share joy!
He’s a dad of 4, a teacher to his 9 year old daughter, and off the chart enamored with his wife Jennie.
He is grateful for his 8 step commute and loves being “bothered” by his family during the work day.
Eric strives to live a vision called “Other People’s Children.” Wouldn't the world change overnight if every person loved another human being like loving parents love their own children?
Not sure about his title since he doesn't do a whole lot for the company anymore. Kind of like a trophy he guesses.
Hobbies are skiing, scuba diving and sipping wine with Shuz.
His favorite part of working at SBP? "Josh doesn’t check up on me to make sure I’m earning my keep. That's a relief!!! That and Beer-o-Clocking in the warehouse with Ray when I make it to town."
He also shares, "My parents love me more than my two brothers and someday I am going to be the Mayor of Watertown, SD."
Chief Changer Upper
Known as the Chief Changer Upper because, much to the rest of the team's dismay, he's always changing things. It's generally for a good reason though.
His hobbies include making music, fermenting things and gardening.
Joshua's favorite part about working at SBP is getting to grow and change with a team of really wonderful folks.
He also wants to share this message with you, "Dogs are better than cats, fight me!"
Doer of All Things Good & Kind
Daphne didn't come up with her title, her coworkers did. They feel it's the best way to describe what it's like to work with her.
She LOVES cats and dogs. She and her boyfriend volunteer to help reduce the feral/stray cat population in Troy, through capture, spaying/neutering and adoption services for these lovable animals.
Her favorite thing about working at SBP is the great family she gets to work with.
In her spare time you'll find her outside, even in the dead of winter!
King of the Warehouse
Ray is King of the Warehouse because, well, he's the warehouse manager!
His hobbies are listening to great music, visiting breweries, distilleries and wineries, and trying out new recipes.
Ray's favorite thing about working at Specialty Box is his co-workers, the ideal work hours, and the work environment.
Shawn Koch is known as the "Office Ninja" as he moves stealthily around the office and warehouse, doing all the things.
If you spend any time talking with him, you will quickly learn of his love for movies, tv and music. He is a media trivia buff and can carry on entire conversations in movie quotes (and is always up for a game of '6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon')!
His favorite part of working at Specialty Box is making the customer experience as wonderful as possible.
Emmalyn’s sass knows no bounds, thus the fitting title.
Creation is part of who they are, typically with clay or paint.
Emmalyn’s favorite part of working for SBP is helping people’s creative dreams become a reality and chatting it up with clients!
They’re always down for a good laugh and a cup of joe. Emmalyn loves anything well crafted: cocktails, coffee, ceramics, food...
Rubin is called the Mountain Man because he can build mountains and tear them back down. He handy like that.
He likes watching football and basketball. Rubin's favorite team is whoever is winning! He enjoys dinner and a movie, and it better be action packed.
His favorite part of working at SBP is getting the job done, making a difference, and being useful around the office and warehouse
He prides himself on getting the job done right the first time.
Jess is the resident go-to for all things design: layout, typography, color selection and prepress.
Her hobbies include caring for her retired horse Naomi, travel and exploring.
Jess's favorite part about working with SBP is being able to work from anywhere in the world!
Also an appreciator of good whiskey, red wine, and loves to bake pies for friends and family.
Pam says, "If SBP had employed an RN to promote wellness, I may have applied!"
Fortunately, she had a job at ST PETERS FAMILY HEALTH CENTER, and was very happy working there for the last 25 years of her employment.
Besides that role, she served as full time wife of the president of SBP (Dave) and the prestigious position of mother of their children, and Mima to their 7 grands!
Sadly Dave forgot his title but we just call him "Big Daddy"
His hobbies include photography, reading and at times drawing
He joined the company in its second year and most enjoyed the creativity it allowed him to use, including his sketching abilities
The best part of being a part of SBP for Dave was getting to turn it over to his three sons and watching them grow it to what it is today