Skip to main content

From humble beginnings, Glenmore Custom Print & Packaging was founded as a one-man shop in 1981 by Glenn Rowley in Richmond, B.C. In its early years, Glenmore kept a very low profile and slowly accumulated a loyal following of customers. However, during the Great Recession in 2008, the company pivoted and focused more on packaging in response to the changing marketplace.

In 2014, Glenn sold Glenmore to his son, James Rowley, and then retired from the business in 2016. In the years since, James has grown Glenmore to more than 100 employees and the company currently operates out of two facilities in the Richmond area, with a combined footprint of approximately 50,000 square feet.

“Printing is a very generational industry, and I can remember throwing paper airplanes off the mezzanines at Glenmore on Saturdays and Sundays with my dad,” said James. “I would carefully craft different shapes of airplanes to see if I could get them to go farther and farther, and the pressman would come in on Monday morning and they’d be pulling paper airplanes out of the ink fountains.”

“But it’s the story that sells the bottle. If you can’t tell that story with your packaging, you risk your premium line or your new product launch blending in with everything else on the shelf.”

James Rowley, Glenmore Custom Print & Packaging

A passion for packaging has driven Glenmore to become one of the top Canadian manufacturers of custom-printed paperboard boxes, labels, shrink sleeves and tubes. Today, Glenmore primarily focuses on high-end retail packaging for the food and beverage, wine and spirits, cosmetics, nutraceutical, and confectionery industries across Canada and throughout the western U.S.

“Most of the beverage companies in Western Canada have worked with us in some capacity over the last three to five years,” said James. “We’ve also printed for a large number of wineries and distilleries, which has become a significant focus area for us.”

In November 2022, James brought on industry veteran Jay Tapp as Glenmore’s chief operating officer. Tapp has worked in the packaging sector for more than 35 years and, most notably, founded Tapp Label Technologies Inc., which he sold in 2005. Tapp brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise in streamlining processes and procedures, as well as continuous improvement through measuring results, setting goals and growth.

Bottle of golden spiced rum
Photo courtesy of Glenmore Custom Print & Packaging

Tapp was working in the Chicago area when James reached out to him looking for the right person to run Glenmore. The position was ultimately deemed a good fit, and Tapp relocated from Chicago to take on the COO role.

“This position was interesting to me because James’ entrepreneurial vision was to not only grow the company, but to change the way a typical packaging company operates,” said Tapp. “In the year that I’ve been here so far, I can honestly say it’s been an amazingly fun ride and the time has just flown by.”

A changing business

Over the years, Glenmore has been able to adapt to keep up with the ever-changing needs of its customers. The company has seen a significant evolution in the marketplace, with a greater focus on improving the shelf-visibility of products.

“A lot of beverage companies are extremely conscious today about how their products look on the shelf, going as far as thinking about image resolutions and colours of their cans; 10 years ago, that wasn’t the case,” said James. “So, we are working with our customers on ways to pretty-up their products, allowing them to better stand out within a crowded space.”

James has also noticed significant growth in more boutique offerings, as breweries, distilleries and wineries embrace the concept of limited release items and non-alcoholic options. With that, Glenmore’s role has been to help their customers find ways to warrant the additional costs that might be associated with unique packaging that showcases new product lines and limited releases.

“We have customers that sell their spirits for more than $125 per bottle and they’re looking at how to justify a $125 spend, so we help them by making it more giftable and luxurious with our packaging,” said James. “What’s the differentiator between a $60 bottle of whisky and a $100 bottle of whisky? Often, it’s just the packaging. Yes, the flavours are different. Yes, the distilling process is different. But it’s the story that sells the bottle. If you can’t tell that story with your packaging, you risk your premium line or your new product launch blending in with everything else on the shelf. That is what makes high-end labels and exterior packaging so important.”

“We seek out the go-getters and the go-getters seek out Glenmore.”

James Rowley, Glenmore Custom Print & Packaging

Creating a broad array of packaging for customers needing smaller batch orders – especially on the winery and distillery side of things, where much of the product is hand-packaged – is not for the faint of heart. However, it is an area where Glenmore has proven to not only be comfortable in, but excel in.

“Our customers have a great eye for detail and they really pay attention to the product we send them, and that is something that scares a lot of printers away,” said James. “But for us, we’re very dedicated to producing quality and that’s what makes us comfortable in the luxury space. And if we make a mistake, we replace it – simple as that – and our customers appreciate that commitment to product quality.”

A culture of excellence

Glenmore has developed a culture of excellence, where customer service and product development are first and foremost. Glenmore’s workplace environment is extremely diverse, dynamic and collaborative. There is always something going on and no two days are the same. Glenmore stands apart from much of its competition because its team works with five different product lines at once, and – from boxes to foil stamped roll labels – the company manufactures everything in-house.

“Our staff could be working on a folding carton one day and then a label or shrink sleeve project the next,” said Tapp. “While this might seem challenging for some, our team likes a challenge, and it helps them remain versatile and highly technical in their understanding of the printing and packaging industry. This is something that is hard-wired into our culture as we create opportunities for education and we all learn from one another each day.”

At Glenmore, the belief is that all machine operators want to work with the newest and nicest pieces of equipment. Therefore, James has made it his top priority to invest in bringing the latest, state-of-the-art technology to the company, which has helped Glenmore attract some of the finest talent in the business.

“We seek out the go-getters and the go-getters seek out Glenmore,” said James, who admits the culture of excellence at Glenmore isn’t always for everyone. “We do challenging work here, so if you’re at a point in your career where you want to grow and be challenged, Glenmore is absolutely the place for you. Working on the sort of work we do can be nerve-racking for some but, for others, it’s what they live for.”

Doing better

Glenmore is strongly committed to making the world a better place through sustainability, which is no big surprise given that before joining the company, James went to university to study corporate environmental management.

As such, the company has implemented several waste reduction and recycling policies and initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, and promote sustainable manufacturing.

Phantom Creek Estates packaging
Photo courtesy of Glenmore Custom Print & Packaging

Most of the paper and board that Glenmore stocks on their floor is either Forest Stewardship Council certified or made from recycled materials, which means the company’s paperboard boxes and tubes are completely recyclable. Glenmore also works with Veritree, which connects businesses with verified tree planting projects around the world as a way to offset their carbon footprint.

“The environment and climate change are issues that are incredibly important to me, and we do everything we can at Glenmore to make sure that we are making a difference and not just greenwashing,” said James.

Looking ahead, Glenmore will continue to focus on what it does best by leveraging the Glenmore brand and reputation for customer service, and expanding its packaging and label reach throughout the food, beverage, and wine and spirits industries.

“We really just want to double down on our processes and get even better at what we do,” said James. “Our goal is to provide beverage companies with a solution for higher-end packaging options that they might not think are achievable from a cost standpoint and then make it cost achievable. We are excited for what the future holds for us at Glenmore.”

Kilter Brewing Co. taproom
Cover StoryOther

Decorate with Intent

Poured CanadaPoured CanadaMay 9, 2024
Silhouette of beer bottle casting shadow along table

Contract Distilling

Kristine HuiKristine HuiMay 8, 2024
Fly on piece of fruit

Bugs Begone

Abell Pest ControlAbell Pest ControlMay 8, 2024