We celebrated our 25th anniversary at the turn of the millennium, with the sense of security that comes with being humanly and technologically prepared to face new challenges.

In 2020, Salinas is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and we couldn’t resist a look back at the past years to take stock of all the changes the company has had to face.

This exercise is like looking at a painting from a certain distance: half a metre away you see everything in detail, then, when you move three or four metres away, you discover that same detail within a wider context and you can gauge its significance.

Well, when analysing our history with the benefit of hindsight, we have realised how crucial and intense these years have been, both in economic, social and technological terms, and in the way in which the product-customer-supplier relationship has evolved.

And not to mention how much consumer perception of packaging has changed … We will see how that has evolved throughout the article, but first I would like to put the reader in the picture regarding the main concepts that have conditioned our development.

A couple of months ago, I read the following headline in a specialised magazine: “The new marketing trend is knowing how to build an emotional connection with the customer.”

New? It’s true that nowadays there is much talk of emotional marketing, but the process we have experienced in Salinas has been both emotional and emotive since the very beginning, and the customer-brand or customer-supplier connection has always been very important.

We have been fortunate to survive the anxiety and jitters caused by numerous product launches; we have seen the birth and growth of our niche brands; we have developed the ideas of the best copywriters … It’s not easy doing this without engaging emotions.

But let’s get back to the gist of this article.

The same year Salinas was founded (1995), according to the American report “Americans Going Online … Explosive Growth, Uncertain Destinations.” (Pew Research Center: October 16, 1995.),60% of adults in the United States said they had never heard of the Internet or weren’t sure what it was.

Only five years later, half of the population was connected. It goes without saying that in that same year in Spain, the Internet was still like something out of a sci-fi film for the vast majority of the population.

It is these three concepts—connectivity, speed and emotion—that have clearly conditioned the evolution of many companies and, specifically, the evolution of Salinas.

Why? Because we have always worked according to the conditions and changes of many key sectors of the global consumer market, such as fashion, cosmetic perfumery, etc, in addition to our own conditions and changes.

Well, back in 1995, a young Antonio Martínez, who two years previously had taken the reins of the family business, found himself in need of a change and decided to move his business to the small town of Salinas. The company was named after the town, and it continues engaging in the same activity it has been carrying out since the 60s—producing boxes exclusively for the local footwear sector.

With around thirty workers and a production area covering 5,000m2, the new stage of the company began.

Three events made the beginnings very hard:

  • the negative effects of the Gulf War (1990-1991), which lowered footwear sales by 50% and caused the demise of many local industries.
  • The great Spanish recession of 1992, which deprived most of the national business fabric of liquidity.
  • And the increasingly growing production leakage to Asian countries, with which it was impossible to compete price-wise.

Martínez clearly saw the need to diversify his production so as not to be constrained by the ups and downs of just one sector.

At that time, the two big windows to the world were television and magazines, and companies had sole control over product communication.

In Spain, companies began to emerge that engaged in the distribution of luxury perfume and cosmetics, such as Loewe Perfumes, Perfumes y Diseño, Puig, etc., and they imported the French idea of the coffret. A lined box investing a great deal of creativity and the best materials and techniques to enhance the product and brand in specific campaigns such as Christmas or Mother`s Day / Father’s Day.

In parallel, and after contributing major names like Balenciaga, Elio Berhanyer or Pertegaz to international haute couture, in the 80s and 90s Spain experienced the boom of pret à porter.

In the north, the Moda Galicia movement unleashed an explosion of creativity and locally produced top-quality fashion brands, the climax being the Inditex Group boom.

In the Mediterranean, Barcelona continued to develop, while leading the Spanish textile industry. International brands such as Lacoste and Burberry had their own branches in Barcelona.

Back then, the exquisite packaging of a men’s shirt included, in addition to countless pins, cardboard and tissue paper, an individual lined box.

Within this industrial and business framework is where Salinas spread its wings, taking on the very important challenge of taking a major step forward in equipment and industrial knowledge.

Until then, our boxes consisted of nothing more than coated or offset paper printed in two inks, and our boxes were rarely submitted to quality controls.

Suddenly, special paper, 5- and 6-ink printing on polyester paper, stamping, relief, etc., appeared.

A time when sitting back and relaxing wasn’t an option, because there was so much to do, and so much to learn.

We had to learn about wefts, alignment and dot gain, as well as channels to obtain better quality in stamping, glue tests, grain direction, dies, etc.

Until Freehand came to save us, the designs were made on pencil and paper and then scanned, taken to the die, stored on a floppy disk and posted to the client for approval.

This is how we began a foray into the world of premium and luxury brands, and, after overcoming the “2000 effect” and the currency switch to the Euro, our first decade as a company ended with mobile phones in our hands, e-mail accounts on our Mac OS Xs, and with Google listed on the stock market.

That is to say, we were at a new point zero where, despite the fact that our revenue had increased sevenfold, the challenges we were facing were manifold and highly complicated.

The most complicated of all had its own name: Lehman Brothers, and not necessarily for negative reasons.

Fortunately, Salinas had been cost-effective during its previous growth years and, in 2008, it already had a portfolio of clients strong and powerful enough to survive this global crash and the accompanying burst of the real-estate bubble in Spain.

Necessity triggered two actions in Salinas between 2008 and 2010: a major internal restructuring and a great effort to modernise.

Its founder had wisely managed the company during the economic boom, and had the foresight to take advantage of the years in which the Spanish government tried to reach economic recovery as an opportunity to place the company at the head of the sector.

The anti-recession measures taken were the creation and professionalisation of the marketing and development departments, as well as very heavy investment in cutting-edge machinery.

On the other hand, two concepts emerged in all design and fashion blogs: the democratisation of luxury and low cost.

The drop in consumption that had to be overcome at any cost and the phenomenon of social networks was seen by Salinas as a world of new opportunities. Why? Because, as Marie-Claude Sicardexplains in her book Luxury, Lies and Marketing, once consumer products are no longer essential, they need a good packaging to be desirable.

The packaging, and, more specifically, the lined box, becomes the perfect differentiating vehicle at the point of sale, because everybody has their own “cookies” installed in their brains and, without realising, a colour or a shape will attract us to one product or another in a fraction of a second.

In 2011, we already had 90% of the graphic and production processes of packaging integrated in a productive plant that had grown from 5,000m2 in 1995 to 21,000m2, in an organised workflow including different facilities for graphic arts, production, logistics and full-service. 

We had achieved the necessary know-how and the power to tackle our internationalisation head-on.

Our turnover had reached 8 digits and our growth continued to be sustained and sustainable during our next stage.

Although the situation seemed to have given us a break in our second decade, with respect to so many years of economic fluctuation, thanks to the digital phenomenon we couldn’t sit on our laurels and we found ourselves once again at point zero (as if we were on a new screen of a video game).

And entering the French market (mother country of luxury) was a learning curve for us regarding quality in luxury boxes, where nothing short of perfect is acceptable.

A century and a half separate the First Industrial Revolution (represented by the steam engine) from the second (mass production). On the other hand, between the third (1960: automation process) and the fourth (2011: digital era) there is no more than 50 years difference and, most amazingly, in Salinas offices there are already dossiers where there is talk of the Fifth Industrial Revolution, based on robotics.

We celebrated our 25th anniversary at the turn of the millennium, with the sense of security that comes with being humanly and technologically prepared to face new challenges.

A strong commitment to CSR, the successful implementation of Lean Thinking and the modernisation of the management and IT systems, as well as our highly trained workforce, give us the security (but not complacency) we lacked at the start.

If what Oscar Wilde says in The Importance of Being Earnest is true, that uncertainty feeds passion, it would easily explain why we like this job so much.

Historically, we have been fortunate to live in a revolutionary and revolutionised world, where nothing can be taken for granted or given up on.

Our heads have had to adapt, and must continue to do so, to new processes, methods and technologies at the speed of light.

We manufacture a product that has surpassed all the stages we have mentioned, emerging from each one of them increasingly strong, adapting to the times, the means and the messages.

Such as Andreas Palm, founder of the brand CDLP and Salinas client states: We believe that the box is a vital part of the customer experience, no matter in what form or where you buy the product. But it becomes essential for your product to be noticed and gain traction in premium and luxury retail environments. After seeing a lot of examples of our sector, we saw a clear opportunity to differentiate ourselves and make our boxes a statement and symbol of the quality of our product.

Beyond all this there is another important reason: we wanted to develop a box that was attractive for social networks, as not many people are willing to share their photos in their underwear, so our box has become our signature in digital spheres.

Last, but not least, we live in a new humanistic era, where people are the core, whether that person is the B2B customer, the final consumer or the worker, and where the private company is summoned to be the driver of economic, social and environmental change.

Being able to create positive impacts within your own environment and outside it is not just a responsibility or an obligation: in our view, it is a privilege, because our work enters a new dimension and takes on much more value.

And, to summarise, this is our story. Sharing it is a way of celebrating it with the many people who at one time or another have been part of it.

Our passion and emotions are intact so we can continue writing pages, though without ever losing sight of our mantra: Efficiency and Happiness.

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