By Jenna Pelletier
Reposted from Rhode Island Monthly
Growing up in the ’60s, Taylor Box Company president Dan Shedd had little career ambition, but remembers his father telling him that the family’s packaging factory would “someday all be yours.”
Shedd’s parents had inherited the Warren-based business from his maternal grandfather, Howard Scholes, a Brooklynite, who had purchased it from Clarence Taylor in the 1920s.
When Shedd was twenty-nine years old, his dad retired and passed on the factory to Shedd and his brother, Dave. “Since I was the older brother, he said, ‘Dan, you be president and run the business, and Dave, you be vice president and run the factory,’ ” Shedd says. “Then he walked out the door.”
At the time, Taylor Box Company was focused on making boxes for Rhode Island’s once-booming jewelry industry. “In the 1980s, the industry changed, and it was sort of like evolve or perish,” Shedd says. “We needed to pivot.”
In 1992, Shedd purchased the company from his family.Today, the company designs and manufactures high-end packaging for clients such as fashion retailer Net-A-Porter, American Express and marketing firms looking to create splashy promotional materials for brands such as Ferrari and HBO. “What we have is an incredibly small niche,” Shedd says. At one time, 80 percent of Taylor Box’s business was done within fifty miles of the facility; today, it’s 5 percent.
Shedd is surrounded by creatives, including his wife, Susan Doyle, chair of Rhode Island School of Design’s illustration department, and his daughter, Marken, who works as the company’s associate art director. He describes his role as “the facilitator.”
“I have to get everyone to drink the Kool-Aid,” he says. –J.P.