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Corrugated: KapStone opens Chicago plant, its first operation in Stone family's home base

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Corrugated: KapStone opens Chicago plant, its first operation in Stone family's home base

October 11, 2013 - 11:07

OAKLAND, Oct. 11, 2013 (PPI Pulp & Paper Week) -KapStone celebrated its new Aurora, IL, box plant on Oct. 8, which is the eight-year-old company's first new greenfield box making facility.

"We couldn't be in the box business without having a plant in Chicago," chmn and CEO Roger Stone toldPPI Pulp & Paper Week.

The new 192,000 ft2sheet plant has two flexo-folder-gluers, a "high tech" rotary die cutter, and a design and technical center. The plant began production last March, completing the first $8-10 million phase of the project.

New corrugator planned.Plans are to install a new 98-in. corrugator in the "near future" in the next phase of the project, Stone said. Some components of the corrugator are already at the plant.

"Chicago has always been our home town and we have customers in this area," Stone said.

The nearest KapStone plant is in Cedar Rapids, IA, about 250 miles west of Chicago.

KapStone's headquarters, however, has been in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook since formation of the company in 2005.

The Aurora plant general mgr is Katie Wilhelm, who began her career working during college for Stone Container, when it was headed by Roger Stone. The original family company grew from its Chicago roots to become the world's largest containerboard/box producer before its acquisition by Jefferson Smurfit in 1998.

Competitive market.After the merger to create Smurfit-Stone, Roger Stone and his son-in-law Matthew Kaplan (now pres of KapStone) formed Box USA, the largest independent converter, and later sold the firm to International Paper (IP) in 2004.

The two then formed KapStone a year later, which they built through a series of acquisitions into a company with four containerboard/kraft paper mills (including the recent acquisition of Longview) and 22 corrugated converting plants. It is now the fifth largest North American containerboard producer in capacity with operations from the East to the West Coast.

Chicago has long been a competitive box market with many players and the new KapStone plant is near a large new "super plant" Temple-Inland built in Aurora in 2011 before its acquisition by IP.

Georgia-Pacificplans to shut its Color-Box plant in Harrington, DE, by the end of the year, resulting in the loss of 95 jobs, a company official told the localNews Journalin Delaware. The plant makes litho-laminated and other improved graphic quality corrugated boxes. Production from Harrington will shift to more modern Color-Box plants in Richmond, IN (two plants), and Pelahatchie, MS, the official said. The division also operates a plant in Madera, CA, in the Central Valley. The Harrington plant was built in 1969 and acquired by G-P about 15 years ago. The Color-Box division's capabilities include litho-lamination, direct print (up to 6 color), preprint and UV, and aqueous coatings.