At Sofpak, creativity and problem-solving are the family business

10/03/2018 | Daniel Leaderman

At Sofpak, creativity and problem-solving are the family business

10/03/2018 | Daniel Leaderman

Sofpak Technologies really began because there was a problem to solve, says President Mona Lim.

In the late 1970s, Lim's father, Casey, was an engineer responsible for field-testing equipment for an electronics company. He experienced a common problem: equipment damage during transport. Too much time was being spent on costly repairs and maintenance.

So Casey and his wife, Jully—both Korean immigrants—brainstormed and designed the first Sofpak case, custom-made to protect the equipment. The Lims established Sofpak Technologies a few years later, and the company has been solving customers' problems by providing "custom transit solutions" for nearly three decades.

"The key to who we are is that we create uniquely-designed, custom products. It's like getting a custom tailored suit," said Mona Lim. "We reinvent the wheel every day for our customers."

Essentially, clients present their sensitive or specialized equipment to the company, and Sofpak uses its expertise and a variety of materials to design the lightest, most convenient method to transport the item safely and securely.

Lim says that chance for creativity is part of what drew her to the family business. Although she helped out in her youth and was familiar with the general products, she later realized the endless possibilities of custom product development. Leaving behind a career in client development at a DC law firm, she became fascinated with the different facets of the company and was soon full of ideas about how to move the business forward.

"It was very addictive, to say the least," she said. Lim left the law firm in 1991 and never looked back.

Today, the bulk of the company's clients are U.S. government defense contractors, with others coming from the telecommunications and security sectors. Custom products include a range of proprietarily designed inserts, foam inserts to protect items in hard-shell cases, soft cases, backpacks, and even shelters for the military. A triumphant moment came several years ago, when a CBS News report included footage of soldiers carrying a Sofpak product, Lim said.

Sofpak is also increasingly moving into the medical industry, which Lim sees as a major opportunity for the company.

Sofpak has developed a treatment therapy bag to keep chemotherapy fluid warm making it comfortable for patients during infusions. The treatment bags are currently being tested at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, and Sofpak is also looking to apply the technology to other treatments, such as antibiotic infusion.

Lim believes the bags can give patients more flexibility to have their treatments at home, where they are more comfortable, rather than at a hospital or doctor's office.

But as Sofpak looks to expand into the medical industry, the company is also exploring a line of products for consumer use: backpacks, specialized gun cases, even a bag line, Lim said. Lim is confident the quality and function of their goods will appeal to a broader customer base.

“We’re making a difference in people’s everyday lives,” Lim said. “I can’t tell you how excited we are when we hear we’ve solved a problem by creating real solutions.”

We're celebrating manufacturing in Maryland all month long. Read even more stories from our state's manufacturing industry here.

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