In 1985, Madeline and Mike Pate bought a tiny printing works situated in an old building at the top end of Cape Town. It had 2 machines – one of which, we later discovered, was used for parts to keep the other working! There were 1 and a half employees: Benny Marcus and Thelma Willoughby, who had come back from retirement to help with print finishing and make tea.
Madeline’s daughter, Julie joined the little business the following year, to file and answer the phone. As the client base grew, we invested in machinery and staff. The writing was on the wall for small jobbing printers as quick-print shops were springing up and home PC’s would soon do away with the need for office stationery. It was clear, we needed to explore new markets and eventually we began manufacturing hand- folded carrier bags and boxes. Julie’s husband, Mervyn Tobiansky came on board to run the factory.
As the business had grown and more space was needed, we moved the factory to Ndabeni and in 1995, added a little factory shop to move our overruns and spoils. The rest as they say, is history – Merrypak has grown from a small print shop to a busy packaging factory which employs 250 staff. We occupy 3 units in Ndabeni – one houses the machine room, stores, art department and staff gym; one houses our handwork department, goods receiving and dispatch and the third houses our retail shop, our coffee shop (the Good Food Cafe), Merrypak Print & Copy (where we prints stickers, invitations and business cards) and stores.
The little factory shop with a few bags and boxes on trestle tables is now a bustling store with aisles of carrier bags, boxes, wrapping, ribbon, stationery, toys, paper, bottles and jars, plasticware, catering supplies, art and craft supplies, party supplies and everything you could possibly need (or want) to create a “do-it-yourself” wedding or event. We even have a balloon bar where you can have your balloons filled with helium. Most of our products can be shipped anywhere in Southern Africa.
For the past ten years we have been employing staff with varying degrees of disability. We have a vision of an inclusive workplace where those with intellectual and physical disability can fulfil their potential and their input can be valued. We all benefit from sharing our space with people different from ourselves. We try to provide opportunities for people who wouldn’t usually have easy access to the job market. We invest in the workforce of the future by working with a number of special schools and organisations to bring groups for work experience in our factory. We appeal to other businesses to embrace inclusivity.
Merrypak is a brand which people have come to trust. We pride ourselves on producing a quality product and our friendly staff is part of the winning formula.
Enjoy your Merrypak shopping!