An entrepreneurial spirit keeps U.S. Corrugated Inc. innovating in its combination of activities related to the manufacturing of corrugated boxes, such as designing and manufacturing point-of-purchase displays and packaging. “We’re highly diverse,” points out Kirk Matchey, general manager of the company’s plant in Fridley, Minn., near Minneapolis. “We have sheet plants, point-of-purchase display plants and full-line box plants.
“We consider ourselves a service-oriented company that provides solution-based corrugated packaging, whether industrial or consumer, retail or point-of-purchase display. Everything we do is custom – nothing is standard.
“Our business has excelled at providing our customers with the innovation, creativity and solutions that helps differentiate their businesses,” he adds.
The company is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Fridley plant, which was built in 1961 by Downing Box Co. That company was acquired in 1964 by Longview Fiber Co., which was purchased in April 2007 by U.S. Corrugated Inc.
“We have a lot of long-term customer relationships that have been with us the entire 50 years,” Matchey declares. “We’ve also grown our business dramatically over time.”
The Fridley plant has been expanded from its original size several times, the most recent occasion in the early 1990s, Matchey remembers. The plant always has provided a complete box manufacturing process, he notes, and the additions to it have expanded its capacity.
At a size of 288,000 square feet, the Fridley plant currently operates three shifts on five weekdays and has additional capacity available.
U.S. Corrugated has approximately 3 percent of the domestic corrugated box market, making it the leading independent corrugated packaging manufacturer in the United States, Matchey estimates. Half of U.S. Corrugated’s employees have been with the company for more than 20 years. “We were able to avoid layoffs in 2008 and 2009,” Matchey notes. He adds that the plant has made strides in its safety record since it was acquired by U.S. Corrugated.
“We’re very proud of the results and the progress we’ve made there,” he stresses.
The plant’s recordable incident rate is 2.9, down from the range of 6 to 8 that it was several years ago.
The Manufacturing Process
The Fridley plant is a full-line box manufacturing facility that uses more than 50 percent recycled content and virgin pulp in its manufacturing.
“We have 10 pieces of converting equipment,” Matchey explains. “It takes rolled paper liner board and combines it on a machine called a corrugator into corrugated sheets. Then we convert those sheets into custom-made corrugated industrial packaging and/or retail point-of-sale or point-of-purchase packaging.”
The plant produces approximately 800,000 square feet of corrugated packaging annually.
Matchey lists speed to market, reliability, service and high-end graphics as U.S. Corrugated’s core competitive advantages.
He estimates the Fridley plant’s lead time is approximately five days for manufacturing existing products and from five days to three weeks for new items that are custom-designed. A new 12-component promotional project for a major national retailer required only seven days over the Christmas holidays from the initial purchase order to the marketplace, he notes.
U.S Corrugated’s 25 facilities in 15 states all have their own specialties. “We leverage all these facilities and their unique capabilities and product offerings to benefit our customers,” Matchey concludes. For the future, he expects additional growth.
“Our expectations are that we’re going to grow two to three times the average growth in our marketplace,” he pledges.