Consumer packaging manufacturer Ronpak searches for new facility site
A leading manufacturer of custom-printed paper bags and food wraps, Ronpak Inc. faced a shortage of capacity in 2010 as demand for its products grew. With facilities on the east and west coasts, Ronpak experienced difficulties serving its customers in the central and southern regions of the country, especially as its market share grew in those areas.
Company executives welcomed this increase in demand, as it was an indicator of a thriving business. To sustain this growth, however, Ronpak executives also recognized the need to construct a new manufacturing plant. For logistical purposes, company executives wanted to build the manufacturing facility in the South, with sufficient access to infrastructure to reach the growing customer base.
In order to keep the existing manufacturing facilities on line, only a small number of current Ronpak employees would be transferred to this new location, and a new manufacturing plant would result in the creation of many new roles. The company wanted to locate its new manufacturing plant in an area with a deep pool of talent and available resources to quickly recruit and train newly hired employees. Ronpak executives also desired to have the support of the community in which it would invest in order to develop an enriching partnership in its new location and establish itself as a strong partner in the community.
Louisiana incentives invite Ronpak manufacturing plant to Shreveport
Ronpak leadership considered locations in four southern states, but Dallas, Texas, took an early lead among its southern peers, attributed to its large workforce from which to recruit. Still, Ronpak executives met with officials from LED in December 2010 to evaluate placing the manufacturing plant in Shreveport.
Fully aware of the importance of logistics for the Ronpak, officials from LED and the Port of Caddo-Bossier partnered to develop a solution. To ensure Ronpak could begin its operations immediately, the state offered Ronpak the use of the Regional Commerce Center. Completed a year prior and built to LEED certification standards, the center is a 34,000-square-foot, multipurpose building and serves as the headquarters of the port. As much as 30,000 square feet at the center was offered to Ronpak to be used as a temporary location to begin its operations until a permanent facility was constructed.
To support Ronpak’s need for a talented staff, LED offered the company the services of FastStart® – the No. 1 workforce program in the nation. Additionally, LED offered a $3.55 million performance-based grant for equipment purchases related to a potential investment in Shreveport. Ronpak also qualified for the state’s Quality Jobs and Industrial Tax Exemption programs.
Ronpak sees major success with new customer in temporary Shreveport facility
During the proceeding seven months, executives from Ronpak and LED finalized the state’s offer. In July 2011, Ronpak officials announced their selection of Shreveport over Dallas for their new manufacturing facility, and announced the creation of 175 new jobs in Louisiana’s Northwest Region. Officials from Ronpak selected Louisiana for its workforce development program and for the advantages provided by the Port of Caddo/Bossier, including the Regional Commerce Center. Of particular interest to Ronpak executives was the support of state leaders and the availability state resources, in addition to local support.
"The reason we decided to come to Louisiana is because of the quality of the people and the quality of the training programs," said Ronpak owner Ron Sedley. “We met with many private business owners throughout Shreveport-Bossier and we learned first-hand of the outstanding workforce that is available – people who take pride in their work. We were equally impressed with the training program that is available through LED FastStart. It was key to have a great workforce that would be well-trained from the start."
Ronpak began construction on its new manufacturing facility in October 2011. Upon completion, the new 155,000 square-foot facility would serve Ronpak’s growing customer base in the central and southern regions of the U.S.
While the manufacturing facility was under construction, Ronpak also leased 60,000 square feet of temporary space at the port, in addition to the Regional Commerce Center, for a total of 90,000 square feet of temporary space. In December 2011, manufacturing equipment was moved into this temporary facility.
Ronpak made use of the services of FastStart to staff the temporary facility. To fill the new positions, FastStart hosted a job fair to recruit and screen potential applicants. More than 1,000 Louisiana workers attended the job fair. Ronpak hired its first 30 employees, and FastStart developed a training program for the newly hired employees to begin operations at the facility as soon as possible. By January 2012, the temporary facility was online with commercial operations underway.
The new facility’s swift launch period was advantageous for Ronpak, as a large food-service provider with locations across the country presented the consumer packaging company with a new opportunity. If Ronpak could support this customer with its new project, the company would be considered for an increased share of the customers businesses. This potential increase in market share was a unique opportunity for Ronpak, and company executives counted on the newly hired workforce in Louisiana to support this new challenge.
Ronpak announces headquarters relocation to Shreveport
Since first collaborating with Ronpak to bring the company’s new manufacturing facility to Shreveport, LED officials were convinced that they could also attract the Ronpak headquarters to Louisiana. The proposed move was a natural fit, as Ronpak was already familiar with the service and support provided by state and local economic development partners.
In the first months of 2012, Ronpak had recruited, hired and trained new employees and was on course to fulfill the requests of the company’s larger food-service customer. Working around the clock, the company proceeded to hire and train an additional 60 employees, on track to fulfill its total of 175 workers. The efforts of this new workforce paid off. The customer’s demands were met, and Ronpak received new orders to provide consumer packaging for a larger share of food-service provider’s business.
"When we started up in our temporary facility in the port, I had only one thing on my mind – making sure we took care of the needs of one of our most-valued customers," said Sedley. "We did that in a very short period of time. Only with the help of all the people of Louisiana could we have done this. Louisiana is a state that wants to help business succeed."
These first months of operation in Shreveport were a major success for the company. Ronpak officials cited the quality of the local workforce for the recent successes. Combined with the support and incentives they received from the state, Ronpak officials endorsed the Louisiana workforce and committed to a new agreement with LED.
In May 2012, Ronpak executives announced the relocation of the corporate headquarters from New Jersey to Louisiana, where it would conduct operations in office space constructed as part of the new manufacturing facility. In addition to the 175 new jobs announced the previous year, Ronpak committed to moving 20 new headquarters positions to Shreveport, as well as an additional 80 manufacturing positions, for a total of 275 new jobs in Shreveport. The company announced plans to fill the headquarters positions by the end of 2013 and fill all manufacturing positions by 2018.
Ronpak business operations gain traction as Louisiana site comes online
The manufacturing facility was completed in December 2012, the corporate headquarters came online soon after in January 2013, and by that time Ronpak doubled its output in Shreveport thanks to the efforts of the employees at the temporary facility.
To date, the facility has not missed an order, and demand continues to rise as customers respond favorably to Ronpak and its talented workforce. The company produces an extensive assortment of carry-out paper bags, portion control bags and food wraps for such clients as McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Target, Safeway, CVS, Walgreens and many more. Ronpak hired more than 135 of the estimated 275 workers it plans to employ by 2018.