Workforce Training Creates Unique Advantage For Ronpak
For the custom-printed paper bag manufacturer, Ronpak, the decision to select Shreveport, Louisiana, as the site of a major company expansion in 2010 has paid off, Ronpak Chief Operating Officer Kevin Wascom said.
With manufacturing facilities on the East and West Coasts, Ronpak needed to establish a site that could help it meet additional demand and give it better reach across the central and southern regions of the country. Because the company serves a large number of fast food or quick service restaurants, Dallas emerged as an early contender for the expansion location. The city is a major distribution hub for the quick service restaurant industry.
But the north Louisiana city of Shreveport, located just three hours east of Dallas, began to make more sense. LED created a package that helped Ronpak establish a new manufacturing presence in the South and quickly hire a qualified workforce.
Today, the Shreveport site not only turns out high-quality products for Ronpak’s customers; it serves as a showcase facility for prospective clients. The company committed further to Louisiana by announcing a decision in 2012 to move its headquarters from New Jersey to the Pelican State. Ronpak’s presence in Louisiana will result in the addition of 275 new jobs by the end of 2018.
Because of Ronpak’s significant job commitment, Louisiana offered a group of incentives to support Ronpak’s growth. While its new manufacturing facility was being built in Shreveport, Ronpak was able to use 30,000 square feet of temporary space in Shreveport’s Regional Center, a multipurpose building that also serves as headquarters of the Port of Caddo-Bossier.
To staff operations, Ronpak leaned on the services of LED FastStart®, the No. 1 state workforce development program in the nation.
“FastStart was absolutely critical to our success in terms of helping us recruit and train, but also in managing the process,” Wascom said.
Interest in employment at Ronpak among regional workers was overwhelming. More than 1,000 individuals showed up at a recruitment fair where an initial 50 positions were to be filled. FastStart managed the hiring process, helping Ronpak find the right people from a generous pool of applicants.
“From there, they developed training materials on video and iPads and worked with our teams to make sure new employees were trained properly,” Wascom said.
LED also offered a performance-based grant for equipment purchases. And Ronpak took advantage of the state’s Industrial Tax Exemption and Quality Jobs programs, which enabled the firm to reinvest profits in additional growth. In fact, because of its significant partnership with the State of Louisiana, Ronpak has committed that all of its future growth will happen at the Shreveport facility, a modern site capable of meeting additional demand.