With over a decade of experience bringing innovative equipment solutions to the corrugated box industry, co-founder Lou Sardella set out to create a new company rooted with a desire to provide unique product solutions to an established industry. In order to build a brand known for pioneering product development, the highest level of manufacturing quality, and absolute dedication to customers with support and service, Lou asked longtime associate Pat O’Connor to join him for the birth of the company. In 1986 they officially named the new enterprise SUN Automation Group® and the historic journey began.
In the early years, the company’s financial resources were scarce but rich with talent, energy, passion, and determination. The spirit and resolve drove the start-up staff to stand out in a crowded arena of equipment suppliers. The first product, Extend-O-Feed®, caught the attention of customers, large and small, domestic and international, hungry for a precise, reliable, jam-free lead edge feeder that reduced feed roll crush. Surpassing all of their earlier expectations, this product was truly a blockbuster and it successfully launched the entrepreneurs into steep growth mode. It also solidified their fundamental business strategy to develop unique, differentiating technology that could be supplied to both equipment manufacturers (OEM customers) as well as direct end-users (box-makers).
In the 1990s, the company began to extend R&D innovation into the printing discipline of corrugated packaging with the introduction of a chamber blade metering system. This product was a global success and ignited further product development. The company then offered customers add-on print station units, called Spectrum®. In 1999, an entire product family was released to the market, which included the SunTrac® vacuum transfer, harmonic digital register, the SunSet® Control, and the MicroGrind® die cut accuracy system for rotary die-cutting. These products captured significant attention with converters needing to improve quality and performance on existing equipment lines.
The founders’ strategy to create an entrepreneurial culture of continuous product development, combined with quality and customer support, was the fire that drove growth and penetration into global markets. This success put the company in a position to acquire the assets of the Langston® Machinery Corporation in 2001. All trademarks, patents, designs, inventory and equipment of the Langston, Greenwood, and Staley brands became the property of SUN Automation.
In 2002, with the company operating on a global stage, the founders wanted to reward the employees who helped build a stable and successful company. They wanted to create a vehicle to sustain the passion for all future employees. They did so by transitioning ownership of the company to the employees through an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Today, employees own 100% of the company.
SUN Automation has become the industry authority for feeding, printing, and converting technologies with dedication to customers in the way of support. In recent years, the company has launched full equipment solutions like the SUN625 RDC fixed-frame, high speed, wide format rotary die cutter. We also lead in development of high speed, single pass inkjet printing, CorrStream®, for corrugated and alternate substrates. We continue to develop new innovations for the large base of Langston equipment in the field.
What began in a small townhouse in northern Baltimore County has grown to become one of the most respected equipment and development companies serving a massive global industry. The same spirit that inspired the founders to name the company SUN Automation, symbolizing bright solutions for automated production, continues to burn today in multiple facilities around the globe. This inherited fuel is a deep passion to innovate, and provide value to customers with superior technology.
After more than 100 years in the corrugated industry Langston Corporation's® assets, were purchased by SUN Automation Group® as of March 2001. SUN Automation also acquired all trademarks, patents, designs, inventory and equipment for all Langston, Staley®, and Greenwood machinery.
C F Langston, a design engineer, emigrated from Wales to Philadelphia in 1888 and set up a machine-building company. Its first designs were shear-type slitters from which the Langston paper rolls winder emerged. Langston was commissioned to make machinery to produce single-face, corrugated for the David Weber Company in the USA in 1895. This was notable as the first machine manufacturer to be involved in the design of corrugating machinery and it probably happened this way because of closely guarded patents on the product.
If you want to learn more about the fascinating history of the Langston Corporation, you may also read about the 100th Anniversary of Langston.