From a greenfield operation to a growing, thriving converter, USC Bag Manufacturing LLC has come a long way in a relatively short period of time.
Formed in 2005 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USC Bag Manufacturing began as the vertical integration arm of U.S. Cotton LLC, hence the “USC” in its name. U.S. Cotton is the largest manufacturer of consumer cotton in North America, a status that its bag-making namesake took advantage of in its early days of operation.
“What we were doing when we first started out in 2005 was manufacturing the reclosable, tamper-evident zipper bags that U.S. Cotton uses, which are printed with private label graphics for their various customers,” explains Elliot Berger, USC Bag Manufacturing president and CEO, and a 40-plus year veteran of the converting industry.
Then, in 2010, USC Bag Manufacturing began to expand. Though it still made bags – and still makes bags today – for the likes of cotton swabs, squares and balls for U.S. Cotton, it started creating low-density PE wicketed and non-wicketed bags for food, pet food, hardware and medical products as well.
“We started out with three machines in 2005,” says Berger. “In 2007, we got a fourth Mamata machine. We now have seven machines. The original three machines are still running perfectly and efficiently. Now (that)we have seven, we’ve increased our capabilities in terms of bag sizes. One of the machines can make very large wicketed bags, and we do a lot of other innovative kinds of bags on these machines. We make our own modifications as necessary.”
Presently, USC Bag Manufacturing operates out of a 38,000-square-foot facility in Albuquerque, but it’s soon to open a second plant in Belmont, North Carolina. Berger says a flat-bottom pouch machine has already been purchased for the site, a 50,000-square-foot facility that is expected to open in August and gradually ramp up over the course of the next year. Eventually, he envisions the plant operating with five or six machines, creating everything from flat-bottom pouches to standup pouches to bags. The forthcoming North Carolina plant will better enable the company to serve East Coast customers.
Berger is quick to point out a few keys to how USC Bag Manufacturing has done business. He cites steady and controlled growth as a key to the company’s success. He also is quick to credit the machines that drive company operations and the lean mindset he and his colleagues have adopted.
“If we didn’t have accurate and efficient and fast machines, we’d have to have a plant three times the size because we’d need so many more machines to do the same thing,” Berger says of the Albuquerque facility, which employs about 35 people. “We’re very efficient, we run a lean operation. Our operations are very efficient and fast.”
In addition to its seven bag lines and flat-bottom pouch line that’s soon to come online, the company also has an 8-color printing press in operation. It’s expected to add a second press within the next fiscal quarter.
USC Bag Manufacturing