Philadelphia Business Journal: Philadelphia’s Barbati family celebrates 75 years of protective shipping case manufacturing

Every day, users of thousands of different objects-from bass drums to movie cameras to medical equipment-face the same question: how do you get those special items from place to place…all in one piece?

No matter what it is you’re trying to ship, carry or move, chances are that somebody in the Barbati family has built a custom-made protective case for it sometime over the years. The family started in the custom case business over 75 years ago. Vince Barbati says, “I started building shipping cases with my Uncle when I was fourteen years old, and I’ve been in this business all my life”

Vince Barbati is an entrepreneur as well as the heir to three-quarters of a century of tradition. He and his wife Mary Ann founded their own firm, Philadelphia Fiber Case Company in 1990 with 5,000 square feet and no customers. Today, the company is the best know to its many customers – including organizations such as the Philadelphia Orchestras – as Philly Case, and occupies 30,000 square feet with thousands of customers. The firm is one of the leaders in its field, with annual sales of over $1 million.

Philly Case is a leader in other ways as well, Like Vince and Mary Ann, the employees have deep experience in the case-making business. Indeed, its long-term employees give the company hundreds of years of cumulative experience-more, probably, then anyone else in the field. The on-staff designers, the Barbati’s explain, are true craftsmen at space/weight ratios.

In addition to experience, Philly Case is a versatile company; it’s one of the only case-makers in the country to offer a complete range of custom ATA, roto-molded, and lightweight poly cases. “We make ’em all,” says Vince. “In fact, if you go to the shore this summer, take a look at the vintage shoulder-slung boxes the ice-cream peddlers use. We make those, too.”

Summing up his company’s position as it celebrates the family’s case-making diamond jubilee, Vince Barbati says, We go back 75 years to my grandfather’s day, and we’re proud of it. At the same time, we’re very much part of the 21st Century. The world gets more mobile and more global all the time, which means the need for expertise such as ours will only increase. If it moves, Philly Case will be there to help it move safely.