Panda crate-maker packages precious cargo

Last month, a company with that know-how opened its first facility in Atlanta: Chick Companies Inc.

Based in Coppell, Texas, near Dallas, the company's latest creation – crates for the Atlanta-born panda Mei Lan and Washington, D.C.-born Tai Shan -- got loads of media attention in the last few days, even if the company itself was low profile.

The bears, though born in the United States, were sent to China with hopes they will breed to ensure the future of the endangered species. The two young pandas arrived safely in Chengdu on Friday.

Keeping them safe on the journey, in part, fell to the crate-makers.

Pandas are strong, said Brian Bulatao, CEO of Chick, so that meant a wooden crate was out. Instead, the company used stainless steel, with clear, strong polycarbonate to create "windows" that would let in daylight, Bulatao said.

The crates were coated with a special food-grade epoxy so the paint wouldn't hurt the bears, he added.

High-value, precious cargo is the company's forte. Other notable items it has packaged: an Elvis Presley guitar and Julia Child's kitchen for The Smithsonian. Usually, the company creates packaging for industrial products, like medical equipment and oil drilling platforms, said Bulatao.

"We are the go-to guy for any customers that have high-value products that need to get very innovative packaging solutions," he said.

In January, Chick opened a 27,400-square-foot facility in Duluth that will employ up to 40 people. The company moved here to be closer to blue chip clients, especially cash register- and ATM-maker NCR Corp., which recently relocated its headquarters to Duluth.

"Georgia continues to rack up impressive wins in terms of attracting companies because of its skilled workforce and cost of living," said Bulatao.

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