Louis R. Muskat (L.R.), founded Triangle Packaging Company on May 1, 1923. Now in its 100th year of business and under its third generation of Muskat leadership, L.R.’s legacy thrives.
While his employer at the time decided the Midwest was not a desirable location for manufacturing, L.R. had a different vision. When the company moved to Buffalo, NY, Louis felt like a successful life was truly in the Midwest, and specifically, Chicago. One hundred years later, his belief holds true, and Illinois ranks 4th in the US for manufacturing jobs.
Triangle originally started as a contract packaging company. As the business saw rapid growth, L.R. pivoted. In 1926, he developed his first packaging machine and sold 6 of them from blueprints alone. Drawing on his experience as a co-packer, he introduced the company’s first carton sealer. With that, L.R. and Triangle Package Machinery as a company never looked back.
Today, as one of the only remaining vertically integrated Chicago-based manufacturers in existence, Triangle is known for its rugged, long-lasting designs and sanitary machinery. Its full line of machines includes vertical form fill seal baggers, bag-in-box cartoners, multihead weighers, and pre-made pouch machines.
Over the years, it has fostered long-term relationships with Fortune 500 companies and smaller contract packagers alike. One of the company’s oldest customers is National Biscuit Company (popularly known as Nabisco), which purchased its first machine from Triangle in July of 1929. Other long-time customers include Goetze’s Candy, A. Zerega’s Sons, Inc., Tootsie Roll Industries, and many more.
“All dry pasta companies in the 40s, 50s, 60s were using Triangle equipment,” says Jay Vermylen of A. Zerega’s Sons.
Triangle’s durable equipment, as well as its superior support, are to credit for the company’s staying power. “The machine we had from the early 1960s was literally just replaced at the end of 2021,” says Todd Goetze, president and COO at Goetze’s Candy Company. “The machinery clearly is built for a long life and holds up.”
For the decades that followed, the company focused on addressing the ever-changing needs of its customers, including increased production speeds and yields.
In the 1970s, on the coattails of regulation changes such as the 1969 Sanitation Programs administered by the FDA, Triangle made a crucial change to their offerings. The company began to focus on providing sanitary packaging equipment that was suitable for products that were under scrutiny for food safety, including things such as shellfish and food service products.
Around this same time, leadership of the company passed from L.R. to his son, Robert Muskat, under whom Triangle continued to flourish. Robert, being a visionary like his father, led the company to develop and introduce the industry’s first vertical zipper applicator in the 1980s. Over the years, Triangle has further developed this technology, defining itself as a pioneer in this space. It is the longest running partner of Zip-Pak, an industry leader in reclosable packaging.
Today, the company is still owned and operated by third generation with Bryan L. Muskat as CEO and his brothers Paul Muskat as vice president of business development, and David Muskat as vice president of manufacturing, safety, and environmental Services. The fourth generation is also involved in various areas of the day-to-day business. According to PMMI, Triangle is the oldest member still run by its founding family.
“It is an honor to be part of this momentous occasion,” said Bryan Muskat. “We simply would not be here today if it were not for the foresight of L.R. and Robert, and our loyal and dedicated customers and employees.”
The focus on innovation has continued with the third generation. Triangle became a leader in online support, being the first packaging company to offer it. To address the pivotal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), Triangle introduced the X-Series platform of sanitary VFFS baggers in 2009. Most recently, its hygienic Delta Series of baggers was developed in 2021.
But while the machines Triangle offers have spoken for themselves over the years, it’s the company’s culture that sets it apart. Recognizing the importance of its customers and employees since the company’s inception, a commitment to family culture and service has been vital to the company's longevity. From employees who have been with the company for over 40 years, to families who have worked with the Muskat family for several generations, Triangle is definitively Midwestern at heart. Not only do customers trust Triangle, but so do their people. And the Muskat family stands behind both of them.