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Carolina Container celebrates new facility

The Dispatch

Published: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 at 6:40 p.m.

THOMASVILLE | Carolina Container Co., a High Point-based manufacturer of corrugated packaging materials, celebrated its expansion in a newly renovated 170,000-square-foot plant on Unity Street in Thomasville on Wednesday.

Company and local government officials were hosted to a ribbon-cutting ceremony but the plant has actually been in operation since June 2010. The open house was also scheduled in part because the company has already exceeded its commitment to hire 20 workers, as well as invest $2 million in its plant and equipment, as part of an incentives package approved by the City of Thomasville and the Davidson County Board of Commissioners last year.

Ron Sessions, president and CEO of Carolina Container, said the plant, which formerly housed Prelude Foam Products, employs 30 workers now. He noted the company is also looking at another nearby plant of similar size for another possible future expansion, which could include warehouse and production space.

Sessions thanked Steve Googe, executive director of the Davidson County Economic Development Commission, and local government leaders on hand for the incentive package.

“Incentives did have a lot to do with us coming here,” he said. “But we also wanted to continue to grow in this county. The right thing for us is to be right here.”

The CEO noted many of the company’s management team members are from Davidson County.

Sessions said accounts from major customers like Nikon, Puma and Bausch + Lomb are driving some of the company’s growth

“We’ve diversified and landed a lot of new accounts,” he said, noting the company has about 2,000 total clients.

“We used to be just a brown box company,” Sessions said, referencing the corporate history back to 1928 when the company’s primary objective was to serve the then-booming furniture and textile industries in the region

But the company has embraced new digital technology, he said, and now offers a diverse product line ranging from simple one-color folding cartons to more complicated high-resolution graphic point-of-purchase displays.

In fact, the newly renovated plant in Thomasville has two operations — a sheet plant that makes core corrugated sheets and a fulfilment section that turns out stocked high-resolution graphic point-of-purchase displays made by the company. For example, Puma sports socks were hanging on a colorful point-of-purchase display in the room where the ribbon-cutting was held.

“We were initially looking at this building for a warehouse and sheet plant but the fulfilment side could be our biggest opportunity,” he said. “And opportunities are changing rapidly.

“We had 20 percent growth in volume last year and are on pace for 10 percent growth this year,” he continued

In addition to its headquarters in High Point, which has about 95 hourly and 35 salaried employees, Carolina Container also has a large plant and distribution center in Hickory. In total, the company has multiple locations throughout the Southeast, with more than 1 million square feet of manufacturing and more than half a million square feet of warehousing facilities for in-house inventories and quick turn-around of products.

Local government officials said they were happy to have a longtime regional business expand into the county.

“It’s nice to ride by here and see cars in the lot again,” said Thomasville Mayor Pro-Tem David Yemm.

“I’m extremely optimistic about our area,” said Commissioners Chairman Sam Watford, noting that diversification is the key to future prosperity.

Vikki Broughton Hodges can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 214, or at vikki.hodges@the-dispatch.com.

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