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Rochester Top 100: Investments, workers create the right package

Rochester Business Journal
May 9, 2014

American Packaging now employs some 650 across N.Y., Iowa and Wisconsin. (Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

Leaders of Rochester-based American Packaging Corp. believe the firm’s workforce and continued investment in technology, along with low corporate overhead expenses, have helped the company grow.

“As a family-owned business with low leverage and significant investments, we have the luxury of a consistency of purpose as it relates to our behavior in the marketplace, with our employees and with our suppliers,” President and CEO Peter Schottland said.

Founded in 1902, the business is an integrated flexible packaging converter that serves the food, beverage, medical, personal care, household, pet food, agricultural chemical, lawn and garden, and other specialty markets.

American Packaging has manufacturing operations in Rochester, which also serves as its headquarters, and in Columbus, Wis., and Story City, Iowa.

In Rochester, the company’s focus is on flexible packaging for dry foods such as Stove Top Stuffing and Hamburger Helper, Operations Manager David Geier said.

The business continually enhances its operations. Over the past 13 years, some $150 million has been invested in new equipment and facility upgrades.

The firm currently is investing in its non-local sites, spending $22.6 million to add 37,000 square feet to its 440,000-square-foot site in Wisconsin. That project is slated to be done at year-end.

A $13 million expansion project that added 20,000 square feet was done in Rochester in 2010. Some 25 people were hired as a result.

Employment in Rochester is 172, up from 163 in 2012, 156 in 2011 and 168 in 2010. Companywide, American Packaging employs 656 people, up from 638 in 2012, 605 in 2011 and 610 in 2010.

Sales have grown as well, tripling over the past decade. Diversification has helped the company grow, Geier said.

The business had revenue of $336.2 million in 2013. That compares with $327.8 million in 2012, $299.8 million in 2011 and $260.5 million in 2010.

This year, American Packaging is looking to increase its local business with packaging for liquids—pouches for baby foods and alcohol, for example.

To compete more effectively in the marketplace, the company needs to invest in technology and new product development continually, officials said. That was enabled recently with the creation of a new solutions group. It is based at the Wisconsin site but benefits local operations too, Geier said.

The market is changing as well, he said. It will shift over the next five to 10 years to focus on child-resistant packaging that also is senior-citizen-friendly, to accommodate the increasing number of elderly consumers.

Other focuses will be on packaging as it relates to food safety and intelligent packaging. An example of the latter is creating a barrier that lets consumers know when food has spoiled.

The company also is focused on sustainable packaging, and in 2012 it pledged $1.2 million to Rochester Institute of Technology to help sponsor an education and research center, the Center for Sustainable Packaging.

In 2007, American Packaging had given RIT $1 million to create the American Packaging Corp. Center for Packaging Innovation, which focuses on materials science within the packaging industry. The two centers at RIT collaborate on projects and are intended to promote improvements in packaging.

At American Packaging, the industry challenge remains the ability to stay ahead of the competition, focusing on innovation and cost control.

“This is a very price-competitive market,” Geier said.

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. This year’s Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 5. For more information, go to rochesterbusinessalliance.com.

5/9/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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