Welcome to The Mailworks Minute where we answer your burning direct mail questions rapid fire. To kick off 2023 we’re here with our Procurement Specialist Helena Nichols who’s going to be answering your questions today. Helena is responsible for supplying our paper, ink and products we need to print your campaigns. Keep reading to learn about her knowledge navigating this industry.

How did The Mailworks navigate the unpredictable paper shortage the past couple of years?

Well it’s something that no one ever saw coming. But after the pandemic the paper mills really had to restrategize. With the market opening back up the demand for paper went through the roof and there was not enough supply to support such a high demand. It caused a huge disruption. We had to make new connections, make new relationships, strengthen our relationships with current vendors and I think we came out of it stronger than ever.

How much paper does The Mailworks go through in one month?

We use paper in rolls and sheets and we also use envelopes. So in a month we could use 5 million envelopes, 300,000 sheets of paper. Rolls of paper are sold by weight and each roll weighs 1,000 pounds. We use a month 267,000 pounds in rolls of paper. So it’s a lot of paper.

What is your day to day like?

Well we are a 24 hour facility. So first thing in the morning I look up emails from second and third shift. I look at emails from the VP and CEO just so we can be up to date on any issues that we may have had through the night. I have a low inventory report where we look up anything that needs to be purchased. I am also responsible for keeping track of any quality issues that we might have with paper, ink and other products.

How many times can paper be recycled?

Paper can be recycled indefinitely. But it also depends on the type of technology that was used to print on that paper. Recycled paper can also be mixed with new paper fibers so this industry is one of the most sustainable ones. I do suggest following Two Sides North America. They are a nonprofit company that dismisses all of the misconceptions about the paper industry and its effect on the environment. It’s a wonderful resource.

What paper stock is the most difficult to find right now?

I would say colored sheets. Bringing back what I said before, all the paper mills after the pandemic had to redefine all their products and lots of products were discontinued, so right now I would say colored sheets.

What recycling efforts does The Mailworks participate in?

We send all ink cartridges and any waste back to the manufacturer so they can be recycled and reused. As far as paper and cardboard, we have a company here in Albany that partners with us for our recycling needs. With our rebrand this past year, we changed our business model and discontinued some of our offerings and products. As a result, we had some inventory that we no longer had use for. We started an initiative called Paper for Purpose where we donate our excess inventory to local schools in our community.

How do you manage predictions in the paper industry?

It all depends on what the information is saying. There is a lot of information out there so we need to make sure we are always communicating with our vendors about our needs well in advance. Even though our customers approve their orders every week, we do have great system that can predict two to three months ahead of what we might need. We need to really look at the information out there and see what is applicable for our type of business.

Thank you to Helena for talking about how she navigates The Mailworks inventory and sharing her insight on the paper industry.