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TEN-E Packaging celebrates 25 years in Newport

Over the last 25 years, TEN-E Packaging in Newport has become a multi-million dollar company and has clients across the globe. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)1 / 2
TEN-E Packaging co-founders Robert TenEyck and Patricia Garin started their company in a small warehouse in Eagan and grew it into a 50,000-square-foot operation in Newport. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)2 / 2

Companies across the globe pay big bucks for quality packaging to ship their goods to consumers, and they expect their products to arrive intact and in the condition in which they left the warehouse. It’s up to packaging testing companies, like TEN-E Packaging in Newport, to make sure the containers that products are shipped in can handle bumpy roads, rough seas and rocky flights.

For the last 25 years, TEN-E Packaging has been testing the durability of packages for domestic and international companies. Now a $6 million-a-year business, founders Robert TenEyck and Patricia Garin have established a global clientele.

“It’s been a great 25 years,” Garin said during a recent interview.

Former EcoLab employees, TenEyck and Garin first opened TEN-E Packaging in a small 5,0000-square-foot warehouse in Eagan. Following record growth, the space quickly ran out of room.

“We signed a five-year lease but in two years we were bulging at the seams,” TenEyck said. “When we started this company we knew we wanted to be in it for the long haul.”

In August 1993, the company moved to Newport, into the current building they said was then just a shell. Two years later the property underwent two expansions, and another in 2010 that added a second building, creating a 50,000-square-foot operation between the two buildings.

“Newport has been a great location for us,” TenEyck said. “Up here on the hill it feels like you’re in the country. And our customers respond real well to it. It’s worked out.”

Building A, which was the original facility, is where technicians perform tests on packages such as determining adequate sealing, recording how much force a grain-hauling container can withstand before it breaks, and conducting vibration tests on packaging used to ship long distances, among many other experiments.

Medical supply package testing is conducted in Building B.

“Whether it’s a drum or a medical device going through a distribution environment, it’s going to be subjected to the same environmental conditions; humidity, drops, shocks, vibration and compression from packages being placed on top of one another,” TenEyck explained. “But the medical people are really concerned about maintaining the efficacy of the package so that something doesn’t get inside or render it no longer sterile or suitable for use.”

TEN-E Packaging also uses specialty protocols to conduct age acceleration tests to record the shelf life of certain medical packages and bubble leak and dye penetration tests to determine seal integrity.

Throughout the 15 years the company has tested medical supplies of several high-profile clients, including 3M, Johnson & Johnson and Cordis Corporation.

While medical is a big market the company deals with, Garin said anything that is shipped in a package is fair game.

“We evaluate packaging for anything from food products to snow blowers and four-wheelers, lawn mowers,” she said. “People want to make sure that what they’ve designed when they ship that product gets to the retailer or distribution center without any damage.”

Thirty-five employees staff the TEN-E Packaging business, most of whom are either Cottage Grove or Newport residents, TenEyck said. And working at the company is not an easy feat.

“These are highly skilled jobs,” Garin added. “They all have completed specialty schooling or training. This is a very technical field.”

Beginning as a several hundred thousand dollars a year business to now over $6 million in annual earnings last year alone, TenEyck said he wants to continue to be a good neighbor in Newport.

“There’s no limit for us.”