The Evolution of Products & Packaging – How a Spec-First Approach is Changing How Companies Make Things

Specright Founder and CEO Matthew Wright authors “The Evolution of Products and Packaging” where he unpacks the trends and lessons learned during his 20 years as a packaging executive and entrepreneur.

Posted on 
November 10, 2021
Matthew Wright
Founder & CEO, Specright

This was originally posted on LinkedIn.In my 20+ year career in packaging, I got to see everything made, from cosmetics to missiles to chickens slaughtered – and everything else in between.And what I saw terrified me. As a packaging supplier, I kept seeing these companies – making products I use every day – struggling to get them right. It was maddening. Because as a kid, I grew up organizing everything around me and I was living in a world where product and packaging specifications were not just unorganized, but often incorrect or missing. After I sold my packaging business in 2016, I took a step back and thought about what I wanted to do with the next chapter of my career.  And I kept coming back to the problem of specification data, which was only getting worse as the number of SKUs and products exploded.

And I thought – companies only have two options: they can sit back and make things the way they always have – and deal with recalls, product waste, and having talented people doing stupid things – or they can challenge themselves (and their teams) to think differently and make amazing things.

If you’ve been following Specright, you know we’ve been on quite a journey in the last few years to help companies do just that – revolutionizing the way they make amazing things by taking a “spec-first” approach. This is how Specright and Specification Management came to be. It’s the culmination of a 20 year career in the industry and meeting like minded people in academia, technology, and manufacturing.And it’s catching on.

specification management book

So I wanted to take a step back and reflect on how we got here. Because you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know why got to where you are – so I wrote a book.The Evolution of Products & Packaging provides a first-hand account of the trends that transformed industries. All from the perspective of my career in packaging, starting out in NYC as a packaging salesman (a position I found in a classifieds ad if you remember those) to leading my own packaging company and now founding a software company to address the problems I witnessed firsthand. I talk about how the rise of retailer influence and explosion of SKUs led to a tectonic shift in manufacturing – and how packaging became more than just transportation, but a critical part of the product. Beyond packaging, the product variations also exploded – leading to a level of complexity that is impossible to effectively manage in spreadsheets, PDFs, or emails. This transformation identified the need for a new approach to making products and packaging – what I call a spec-first approach.

Because if you can get the spec right, everything else is easy.

specification management book

When people ask me what is Specification Management? I always answer with, it’s a fundamentally different approach to managing data – starting at the DNA-level, the spec, and building up to make bills of materials and products. Despite the onset of digitization in recent years, companies are still struggling to transition and keep up. But now, we have a playbook for how to make this transition. The Evolution of Products & Packaging unpacks why and how companies should use data to drive sustainability and connect with their suppliers to build a resilient supply chain.It’s the future – and it’s here. You can download a free digital copy of my book here or you can purchase a hard copy on Amazon. If you choose to share thoughts, comments, or feedback on social media, feel free to tag myself or Specright, and use the hashtag #specfirst. If we all take a spec-first approach to how things are made... amazing things will happen. I know it.


Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright is the founder & CEO of Specright, the first cloud-based platform for Specification Management. Specright has been recognized by Fast Company’s prestigious Most Innovative Companies list, named a Gartner Cool Vendor, and as one of the Top Places to Work by the OC Register and Built in LA. Wright is also a published author and his book, “The Evolution of Products and Packaging,”was named to the Amazon Hot New Release List for Industrial Relations Business and has a five star rating. 

Prior to founding Specright, Wright spent more than 25 years in the packaging industry, holding leadership positions at International Paper, Temple Inland, and rightPAQ — a packaging company he co-founded. He has also been involved in leading multiple M&A deals in the packaging industry, currently sits on the MSU School of Packaging and Industry Advisory Board and previously served on the Packaging Advisory Board at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.

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