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Seastone founder focuses on customers

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Warren Osborn found success in several businesses by asking himself what his target customer wanted and then filling that niche.

In 2002, this serial entrepreneur founded Seastone, a Provo-based firm that manufactured the tin-box packaging used by AOL Time Warner in its direct-mail campaigns. During Seastone's first year in business, the company produced 40 million tin boxes. But in the next year, AOL awarded the business to a lower bidder, devastating Seastone.

Osborn's response was typical: "Let's look at what AOL really wants."

He decided the mammoth company's real goal was to sell more products and services. So he decided to turn Seastone into a packaging shop that would provide designs so innovative that AOL — and other customers — would have to use its services.

Under Osborn's direction, Seastone wasted no time: in six months, the company turned out 150 finished packaging concepts. That year, Seastone grew by 500 percent.

Today, Seastone continues to innovate. Osborn spun off the company's Blu-ray disc-case business, left the direct-mail packaging field and concentrated Seastone's efforts on the gift-card packaging industry. That focus has helped the company to 800 percent growth over the past three years.

Osborn stays ahead of the competition in a fast-changing arena by continually nurturing Seastone's culture of design and innovation, patenting many of the company's designs and bringing new concepts to market faster than anyone else.