Welcome to ASC Direct, where innovation and quality have been our driving forces for over four decades. Our journey began in 1981 as ASC Cartons, a local Yorkshire-based business providing corrugated cardboard products to local industry. Since then, we've evolved and expanded, transforming into ASC Direct to cater to a broader UK-wide audience with an eco-conscious mindset.
Over the years, our dedication to delivering top-quality packaging solutions has remained constant. We take pride in our rich history, but our focus is firmly on the present and the future. ASC Direct has always been at the forefront of technological advancements, embracing online platforms early on to reach more customers effectively.
ASC Cartons was founded by a local Yorkshireman; with the help of his family, they covered a 30-mile area, spanning the region, offering corrugated cardboard products to small cottage industry businesses. Local people simply picked up the phone and they would have their boxes delivered to them faster than any comparable provider. Nowadays a carton is considered a form of drinks container, but the original term has its roots in the Medieval latin term “carta” meaning “paper”. By 1981, carton had become the default term for cardboard boxes.
ASC Cartons had built up a loyal team of employees by this point, so it was only natural that they encouraged 2 of their longstanding employees to become directors of the business. Karl Wilson, who focused on the production side of things, and Andrew Woodhead, who took on more office based tasks such as sales and account management.
The year that followed involved a rapid succession of changes. The last members of the founding family decided they wanted to sell the business. Karl and Andrew were more than happy to take on the organisation for themselves, but not without a little help. Management consultant Terry Higgins came in to form a management team with the pair; spearheading the transition of ownership over a 3 year period.
In 2006, we took a bold step by launching ASC Direct's online store, starting with a simple eBay profile. As the digital landscape evolved, we adapted our approach and partnered with a digital agency to create our own website and a unique app called the BoxBuilder. This empowered customers to design their own bespoke packaging, attracting interest from reputable brands like Dyson and Manchester United.
Ebay was (and remains to be today) a huge online marketplace that allows businesses to sell their products, without ever seeing the customer face to face. Being online; the speed of a transaction accelerates exponentially, and it takes a mental load off some customers who prefer a more casual purchasing experience. The seller also benefits from the huge existing user base Ebay offers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a perfect platform for ASC. We didn’t like relying on third parties to complete our transactions for us and we wanted to provide a more personalised service to our customers. We partnered with a digital agency to build our own website, offering the stock products that were available on Ebay, but also a brand new app we called our Box Builder. This allowed the customer to design their own bespoke packaging with their dimensions and custom design. Sparking the interest of brands like Dyson and Manchester United – we needed to bring more machines into the production warehouse just to keep up with demand!
First major commercial target achieved.
As we grew, our commitment to customer satisfaction and sustainability became even more pronounced. In 2013, we expanded our machinery arsenal with newer machines ensuring faster turnaround times to meet the growing demand.
Almost doubling revenue with no signs of slowing down.
To accommodate the increased web traffic and streamline the user experience, we changed our website provider, and a new web agency came in to provide a more modern look to the ASC Direct storefront. The original Cartons side of the business still operates in a more traditional manner; accepting orders over the phone from the larger corporate organisations that prefer a 1 on 1 conversation. It just happens to have become a smaller proportion of the business.
The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was a challenging time for the world, but ASC Direct continued to operate and provide packaging solutions to new businesses and entrepreneurs. During this period, we strengthened our commitment to the environment, pledging to plant a tree for every 1000 boxes we manufactured with the help of One Tree Planted.
In 2022, a group of investors led by Robin Welch acquired ASC Direct, with the vision to double the size of the business through strategic investments in people and technology. We've already taken the first step by revamping our website and infrastructure to make ordering bespoke boxes even simpler for our clients.
The first step in actioning their plan was a sizeable investment to build a new website on an entirely new infrastructure; adapting to the needs of our current clients, to make the process of ordering bespoke boxes as simple as possible. Not to mention the behind the scenes machinery to keep our orders and output balanced. This year also sees the appointment of our e-commerce specialist Georgia Debney and commercial manager James Palfery-Smith.
Moving into the Future
As we move into the future, we recognise the importance of staying ahead in the digital landscape. We are committed to expanding our online presence, sharing our packaging expertise through our blog, showcasing innovative designs from our customers, and reconnecting through social media.
At ASC Direct, our mission remains clear: to be at the forefront of packaging trends and continue providing exceptional products and services for the next 40 years and beyond. We're excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and invite you to join us on this journey of creativity, sustainability, and excellence in packaging solutions.