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Bishopville’s CP Cases ready to rock, roll, keep gear safe

(March 13, 2015) Musicians living the rock-n-roll lifestyle may not care about much, but they do care about their instruments. As a minor part of the British Invasion, Peter Ross noticed that and founded a company, CP Cases, to produce high-quality shipping containers to ship musical instruments.

About a year ago, CP Cases made landfall on the Eastern Shore in Bishopville under the leadership of Bruce Blackway, the director of the U.S. branch. Earlier in the year, Blackway moved to a larger facility still in Bishopville to accommodate the expanding business and with the hope of being able to add employees.

Blackway retired a few years ago and, in his words, “hated it.” Ross was an old contact from his previous career and the two kept in touch after Blackway’s retirement. Blackway said Ross mentioned opening a shop in the United States and asked him if he would be interested. Blackway said he was relieved to hear the offer, but had to tell Ross he would be moving from his native Philadelphia to the Eastern Shore soon to be closer to his children. Blackway said Ross told him the company would be located wherever he was.

“A very cool aspect is the first customer that opened an account was Elton John. The first projects for him were cases to hold his piano stools. He would have a shiny, glittery red stool and it would go into the red case, he would have a shiny glittery blue stool and it would go into a blue case,” he said.

From there other groups joined, such as Queen, the Rolling Stones and the Kinks.

About a decade later from the company’s founding in 1971, Blackway said a bigger market was identified: military.

“Today we are probably 50 percent military and defense and let’s call the other 50 percent broadcasting, photography, newsgatherers and industrial uses. If you’ve got a thing that needs to get from point A to point B, and it’s a valuable thing, you put it in one of our cases,” he said.

Which explains the pricing. CP Cases can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars depending on the features, and this is just for the box that the item is shipped in, which can beg the question — what is being shipped?

Sometimes it’s weapons, sometimes it’s equipment or even drones, but none of that comes through Bishopville. Empty cases and customizable parts are shipped into the Bishopville facility, the products are assembled to specifications and they’re shipped back out.

“We recognize we’re a little bit of an anomaly because we’re not in the hospitality business,” Blackway said, adding that Worcester County is strategically placed.

“We’re two hours from Philadelphia, an hour from the giant Dover Air Force base, an hour and some minutes from Wilmington, two hours from Washington D.C. and two hours from Baltimore,” he said.

That doesn’t fill every need though.

“What we need is a giant space, and some capable workers and we’re off and running,” he said.

Almost. CP Cases isn’t quite ready to start hiring yet, but are looking in that direction in the near future.

“We’ll start with a part-time person to help with bookkeeping and the office, and very shortly looking at a part-time person or two to help in the shop. We’re here six days per week right now and we’re here for some late nights, but it’s a start-up too, and that’s what you have to expect with a start-up,” he said.

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