As a seventh-grader, Mick Arnold tagged along one summer as his father visited customers of his packaging business. One asked the boy what he wanted to do when he grew up.
“I said I’d like to do what my dad does. I’d like to be involved in packaging,” Arnold, now 47 and president of the fourth-generation Arnold Packaging, recalled saying for the first time. “That became our succession plan.”
Growing up around the 85-year-old Baltimore business, which makes custom containers for manufacturers and retailers and distributes packaging supplies, Arnold saw the fun in it, whether he was making boomerangs out of wood as a youngster or driving forklifts as a teen. As president since 1996, shortly after the death of his father, George Arnold, he remains fascinated with the fast-growing business.
“The packaging industry is changing faster now than it has at any point in my career in the business,” Arnold said.
That’s thanks to explosive growth in online commerce and increasing global competition, each of which drives demand for Arnold’s customers, including retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue, manufacturers such as Lenox and aerospace, military and electronics customers.
In 2017, the company launched a robotics division, Arnold Automation, to sell robots that work in machine shops and factories taking on repetitive tasks such as putting products in boxes and sealing them. Last year, Arnold became a distributor of Ready Robotics’ TaskMate robot, which it supplies to Stanley Black & Decker, Coty and DAP.
The 60-person company, located on Washington Boulevard since 2000, got its start in the city in 1933, when Mick Arnold’s great-grandfather started Arnold’s Factory Supplies, making adhesives and inks used at the time to seal packages. In the mid-1950s, the business began producing wood and corrugated shipping containers for manufacturers such as Northrop Grumman, General Electric and Bethlehem Steel.
Arnold grew up in Severna Park, where his father moved in the early 1960s. He attended Severn High School and graduated from Radford University with a degree in business administration. He worked at the family business every summer while in school, getting experience in sales and other departments.
The company’s packaging is so specialized that the firm’s engineers can spend months or longer designing a shipping container, taking into account variables such as weight, fragility and destination to make something that won’t end up larger or heavier than it needs to be. One of the most unusual products in need of a container was a horizontal stabilizer for the P-3 aircraft, Arnold recalled. The company designed a 44-foot-by-8-foot-by-8 foot container.
His business has always been about learning about others’ businesses, Arnold said, meaning that he is “never bored. I’ve never left here one day without learning something.”
President, Arnold Packaging
Residence: Federal Hill
Education: Radford University, business administration
Family: Three daughters
Hobbies: Golf, volunteer work with youth and adult workforce development in Baltimore, coaching soccer and lacrosse.