2015 Top 25 Converters: M&A’s Signal Big Changes in Flexible Packaging Market
According to a report from Mesirow Financial Investment Banking, 2014 was the biggest year of mergers and acquisitions in the packaging industry this side of the great recession – reaching a post-recession high of $29.9 billion. And this is surely reflected in this year’s Top 25 Converters list, the 11th-annual list that Flexible Packaging has conducted.
There are several new names on this year’s list. NOVOLEX was born in 2014 with the integration of historic packaging brands, which include Helix Poly, Duro Bag Manufacturing Co. and Packaging Dynamics Corp. On last year’s list, we included the Mondi Group subsidiary Mondi Jackson, however after Mondi acquired Graphic Packaging International’s industrial bag division last summer, we opted to list all of Mondi’s U.S.-based flexible packaging converters as one this year – Mondi North America. The heavy M&A activity also opened up spots on the list for other companies to debut. Newcomers include Liqui-Box, InterFlex Group, Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging and St. Johns Packaging.
As you can see, there was a lot of change in the past year – and at the rate the market is evolving, there could be even more change coming this year. But for now, we present the 2015 Top 25 Converters, based off of 2014 sales. Read on to see what each has been doing over the past year.
Top 25 Converters Methodology
We used a similar methodology to last year’s Top 25 listing.
To ensure the most accurate listing, we first went down the list of companies to make sure they are flexible packaging converters, and included converters that have been acquired, merged or inadvertently left off last year’s list.
After careful consideration, the new list of companies was researched using information from Hoover’s Online database and D&B Million Dollar Directory – Total US database.
Once information from those databases were collected, we went directly to the companies to confirm or correct the information we collected.
Rankings are in order of sales revenue for the 2014 fiscal year, and should only reflect flexible packaging.
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1. Sealed Air Corporation
2014 sales (in millions): $5.4B*
Charlotte, North Carolina
In July 2014, Sealed Air announced that it planned to relocate 1,300 jobs to a new location in Charlotte, N.C., that would eventually become its new global headquarters. Previously based out of Elmwood Park, N.J., the company is presently leasing office space in Charlotte and has since announced plans to construct a new state-of-the-art corporate headquarters facility in the city’s Mecklenburg County. The facility is expected to be completed by 2016.
Sealed Air Corporation | (980) 221-3235; www.sealedair.com
2. Bemis Company, Inc.
2014 sales (in millions): $4.3B
Last November, Bemis announced the sale of its pressure-sensitive materials business, MACtac, to California-based Platinum Equity to the tune of $170 million, the proceeds of which the company redeployed into its flexible packaging business. Bemis was also awarded with a pair of Flexible Packaging Association awards for 2014 packages. Its McCormick Skillet Sauce pouch earned a gold award in the packaging excellence category and also earned silver in the sustainability category. “We’re honored to be recognized along with our customer for a breakthrough concept to the market,” Bemis’ director of marketing Don Schnabel said of the FPA Awards.
Bemis Co. | (920) 527-7440; www.bemis.com
3. Sigma Plastics Group
2014 sales (in millions): $2.45B
Lyndhurst, New Jersey
In March 2014, Sigma announced that it purchased all of Excelsior Packaging Group’s equipment at its Yonkers, N.Y., and Rosman, N.C., sites. The printing and converting assets from the Yonkers site were relocated to Sigma’s Mercury Plastics plant in California. Sigma continues to operate the Rosman location as New Excelsior Inc. “Excelsior Packaging (has) always invested in the very best technology and equipment which is consistent with the Sigma philosophy," says Sigma president and CEO Mark Teo.
Sigma Plastics Group | (201) 507-9100; www.sigmaplasticsgroup.com
4. Berry Plastics Corporation
22014 sales (in millions): $2.34B
Last October, Berry announced the appointment of Robert A. Steele to its board of directors, a move that replaced the vacancy left when Joshua Harris stepped down. Steele retired after a 35-year career at Proctor & Gamble and also is a board member of Keurig/Green Mountain Coffee. “Robert’s in-depth knowledge of the global consumer goods market is a great complement to the talents and expertise of our existing board members,” says Berry Plastics CEO Jon Rich. “This acumen will serve us well as we continue to pursue and implement initiatives in support of our four-point strategy of reducing our leverage, developing and introducing innovative new products, growing internationally, and identifying and pursuing value-added acquisitions.”
Berry Plastics Corporation | (812) 424-2904; www.berryplastics.com
2014 sales (in millions): ~$1.986B
Essentially the first full year as a combined operation (five packaging companies merged to form Expopack Holdings S.A. in 2013, which was later renamed Coveris), 2014 was a busy year for the company. It appointed a new CEO – Gary Masse – in March, launched a new website in September and also appointed a new director of global business development. In the meantime, business didn’t stop – Coveris also took home the FPA’s highest achievement award for packaging innovation, for Intervoid, a sterile bag that combines ultra-sterile and ultra-secure composite sampling systems for the first time.
Coveris | (877) 447-3529; www.coveris.com
2014 sales (in millions): $1.86B
Hartsville, South Carolina
NOVOLEX was founded in 2014 through the integration of several historic brands, such as Hilex Poly, BagCraft Packaging, Fortune Plastics, International Converter, De Luxe Packaging , General Packaging Products, NOVOLEX Custom Film and Bag, as well as Duro Bag Manufacturing Co. and, as of 2014 Q4, Packaging Dynamics Corp. The company states that this family of brands will enable NOVOLEX to bring traditional product values and innovation to a variety of markets in the coming years and was established with a focus on packaging choice and sustainability leadership.
NOVOLEX | (800) 845-6051; www.novolex.com
7. Printpack Inc.
2014 sales (in millions): $1.4B
Printpack made headlines in 2014 when it held an August grand opening ceremony for its new Rhinelander, Wis., facility – a 203,400 square-foot building loaded with state-of-the-art equipment to increase production efficiency. The new facility served as a replacement to the company’s previous Rhinelander location. “Printpack has been pleased to be a part of the Rhinelander community for over 25 years, and we are excited about the new investment,” Printpack chairman and CEO Dennis Love states. “This major commitment will provide our Rhinelander associates with the best technology available in our industry and put us on a path to continued success for years to come.”
Printpack Inc. | (404) 460-7000; www.printpack.com
8. Winpak Ltd.
2014 sales (in millions): $786.7
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
According to the company website, Winpak Ltd. is a manufacturer and distributor of high-quality packaging materials and related packaging machines. Its products are used primarily for the protection of perishable foods, beverages and in health care applications.
Winpak Ltd. | (204) 889-1015; www.winpak.com
9. Mondi North America
2014 sales (in millions): ~$750*
Mondi North America consists of three flexible packaging divisions, all of which are converters – a consumer goods packaging division in Jackson, Mo., a coatings division located in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., and its industrial bags division, headquartered in Atlanta. The latter is the result of Mondi Group’s June 2014 acquisition of Graphic Packaging International’s bags and kraft paper business. “The combination of the business with Mondi’s existing network will create a leading bags player in North America and expand the Group’s growing global footprint in this market,” Mondi Group CEO David Hathorn said at the time of the purchase.
Mondi North America | (770) 243-5420; www.mondigroup.com
10. Hood Packaging Corporation
2014 sales (in millions): ~$600
Burlington, Ontario, Canada and Madison, Mississippi
According to Hood’s company website, “Hood Packaging is a quality manufacturer of packaging materials with 20 production facilities located in the United States and Canada. We have grown by acquisition and innovation. We plan to continue to innovate, to acquire and to develop strong industry relationships that will advance our technology, our skills and our products.”
Hood Packaging Corporation | (800) 321-8115; www.hoodpkg.com
11. Sonoco Products Company
2014 sales (in millions): $400
Hartsville, South Carolina
Sonoco’s emphasis on sustainability reached new heights in 2014, as the company achieved its goal of reducing normalized greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by the end of the year, according to its corporate responsibility report. This effort, among other sustainability initiatives, were good enough to keep Sonoco on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for the sixth straight year. “Being selected to the DJSI World Index for six consecutive years is clearly a humbling honor for the company and its employees,” Sonoco president and CEO Jack Sanders says. “More importantly, it recognizes our dedication to reducing the environmental footprint from our global operations, providing a safe and healthy workplace for our employees, developing innovative packaging and recycling solutions to meet our customers' sustainability goals and contributing to the communities where we operate."
Sonoco Products Company | (800) 377-2692; www.sonoco.com
12. American Packaging Corporation
2014 sales (in millions): $377
Rochester, New York
According to the company, American Packaging Corporation’s continued business growth is credited to its investment in talented employees, quality converting equipment and new technologies to help it stay competitive and increase market share. Last November, American Packaging Corporation once again was named as a “Best of the Best” in Best Workplace for the Americas, citing the company as an overall positive workplace environment. It’s the seventh consecutive year it has been named to the list.
American Packaging Corporation | (800) 551-8801; www.ampkcorp.com
13. Bryce Corporation
2014 sales (in millions): $375*
According to the company website, Bryce develops innovative products and is continuously improving its processes to achieve competitive advantages in quality, productivity, cost, and profit targets for sustained growth. Bryce Corporation strives for innovation in flexible packaging and continues to expand its capabilities to remain a leader in its industry. It continually reinvests in the development of its people and its processes, bringing state-of-the-art equipment and proven best practices to its organization.
Bryce Corporation | (800) 238-7277; www.brycecorporation.com
2014 sales (in millions): $360*
In August of 2014, Ampac unveiled an innovative new packaging format for the single-serve snack food market – E-Z SnackPak. A tetrahedron-shaped pouch featuring built in head space, E-Z SnackPak transforms into a serving tray when it’s opened, adding further convenience to the end-user experience. "This unique and innovative package is a true differentiator, and transforms the traditional snacking experience into a consumer delighter. Its shape, ease of opening and transformation into a serving tray displays creative functionality and supports on-the-go lifestyles,” says Sal Pellingra, Ampac VP of innovation and technology.
Ampac | (513) 671-1777; www.ampaconline.com
15. Pregis LLC
2014 sales (in millions): $336 on chart
In May 2014, it was announced that Olympus Partners, a Stamford, Conn.-based private equity firm, had acquired Pregis Corp. North America. Now known as Pregis LLC, Olympus Partners states that the company is well positioned for growth with innovative solutions, expanding markets and sold channel partnerships. “Over the past decade, Pregis has established a strong track record of growing its business through product development, market diversification and acquisition,” Pregis president and CEO Kevin Baudhuin says of the acquisition. “Olympus Partners will continue supporting that growth by investing significant capital in the business. This will help accelerate our strategic and innovative vision.”
Pregis LLC | (800) 834-9441; www.pregis.com
16. Prolamina Corporation
2014 sales (in millions): ~$300 million
In 2014, Prolamina added 50 employees to its flexible packaging workforce, which the company credits to its year-over-year organic growth and dedication to expanding its capabilities to new and existing customers. This dedication was evidenced in 2013, when the company opened a new state-of-the-art 250,000 square-foot plant in Neenah, Wis., and more recently when this same plant received the coveted safe quality food, or SQF, certification.
Prolamina Corporation | (877) 536-2628; www.prolamina.com
17. Scholle IPN
2014 sales (in millions): $275
Scholle Packaging and Netherlands-based IPN (Innovative Packaging Network) combined forces in 2014 in an effort to solve more problems and reached more customers in flexible packaging. Says Scholle IPN president and CEO Tom Bickford, “We are in an excellent position to capture some exciting opportunities in our pouch and bag-in-box formats. Our CleanPouch pre-made spouted pouch product continues to grow and we are proving every day that our efficient, safe and clean manufacture of pouch products for food and beverage is a key value for our CPG customers. We also continue to invest heavily in our aseptic capabilities and believe we are in a position to bring to market some truly innovative products and systems in a safe and natural way.”
Scholle IPN | (708) 562-7290; www.scholle.com
18. Amcor Flexibles
2014 sales (in millions): $275*
For the fourth consecutive year, Amcor Flexibles was a winner at the FPA awards, receiving a gold and silver award for flexible packaging products introduced in the 2014 calendar year. Amcor earned a gold award in the technical innovation category for Dessiflex, desiccant-impregnated films used in medical and pharmaceutical markets. It earned a silver award in the sustainability category for its SachetLite, an eco-friendly packaging alternative to high-barrier sachet packaging.
Amcor Flexibles | (608) 249-0404; www.amcor.com
19. cei (Coating Excellence International)
2014 sales (in millions): $255
In December 2014, cei announced that Rita Cox would replace Michael Nowak as company president and CEO. Nowak, also a co-founder of the business, elected to retire from his position, but remains at cei as vice chairman on the board of directors. Says Cox, who originally joined cei in 2014 as president and COO: “Taking care of customers through industry-leading quality, service and innovation has been the focus of cei’s business. This will not change as we strive to enhance our relationship with current customers and build a relationship with new customers. Customers can count on cei to be there when they need us.”
cei (Coating Excellence International) | (920) 996-5380; www.coatingexcellence.com
20. InterFlex Group
2014 sales (in millions): $200
Wilkesboro, North Carolina
InterFlex Group grew both organically and inorganically in 2014, perhaps most notably with the January acquisition and subsequent integration of Star Packaging, a flexible packaging converter with market positions in bakery, snack foods and chemical sectors. Says Stephen Doyle, InterFlex Group CEO, “The acquisition further expands InterFlex’s capabilities as an operationally robust packaging supplier offering North American customers a range of flexible packaging solutions and technical resources. At the same time we will continue to deliver the flexibility and customized service that has been a signature of both companies.”
InterFlex Group | (336) 921-3505; www.interflexgroup.com
21. Oracle Packaging, Inc.
2014 sales (in millions): $194
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Oracle Packaging, Inc. completed its merger with LL Flex (formerly Reynolds Packaging) over the past year, a move that establishes the company as a more diversified converter in servicing the food, dairy, pharmaceutical, tobacco, and industrial markets with packaging solutions. Oracle Packaging also appointed a new president and CEO – Jim Squatrito.
Oracle Packaging, Inc. | (336) 777-5000; www.oraclepackaging.com
22. Shields Bag & Printing Company
2014 sales (in millions): $180
“Investment” might be the best word to describe Shields Bag & Printing Company’s success in flexible packaging in recent years. The company reported an additional $20 million in sales compared to 2013, and also added 40 flexible packaging employees. According to the company, investment and upgrades in equipment have dramatically improved Shields’ quality, lead times and overall competiveness in the market.
Shields Bag & Printing Co. | (800) 541-8630; www.shieldsbag.com
23. Oliver-Tolas Healthcare Packaging
2014 sales (in millions): ~$125*
Grand Rapids, Michigan
In September 2014, Oliver-Tolas’ Feasterville, Penn., plant was recognized for its commitment to sustainability and environmental health with a one-year landfill free honor. “We have a responsibility to our employees, the community and the world to reduce our impact on the environment and that includes eliminating waste sent to landfills,” says Russell Douglas, Oliver-Tolas VP of global operations. “We continually expand our sustainability efforts and challenge our entire team to come up with ideas to lessen our impact on the environment. We plan to take what we learned in this facility and apply the template to our other global facilities.”
Oliver-Tolas Heathcare Packaging | (877) 283-3431; www.oliver-tolas.com
2014 sales (in millions): $120
It was a busy 2014 for Liqui-Box, which included relocating company headquarters from Worthington, Ohio to Richmond, Va. It also opened a state-of-the-art global technical center in Ashland, Ohio in early 2014 and more recently announced plans to expand this facility, a move that will consolidate manufacturing operations and add about 40 jobs. “These moves support Liqui-Box’s plan to enhance capabilities and accommodate the strong growth the company is experiencing for its products and services around the world,” states Ken Swanson, president and CEO.
Liqui-Box | (877) 267-5949; www.liquibox.com
25. St. Johns Packaging
2014 sales (in millions): $115*
According to the company website, St. Johns Packaging offers bag, pouch, sleeve and roll stock capabilities with features including resealable zippers, tape closures, gussets, handles, wickets and reinforced headers. St. Johns Packaging has emerged as a leader in flexible packaging and is well positioned to take advantage of further opportunities in the North American market.
St. Johns Packaging | (800) 567-8773; www.sjpack.com