Ground has been broken, construction begun, new technologically sophisticated equipment ordered, and new job announcements prepared – all at Printpack Inc., one of the largest employers in the Quad Cities area.
The economic impact of the manufacturing company’s expansion is estimated to be greater than $40 million.
Lonnie McKinley, the Prescott Valley-based plant manager and long-time Printpack executive, said increased manufacturing demands on the current facilities “…have exceeded our plant’s ability to keep up with customer orders. Printpack chairman and CEO Jimmy Love said the company is committed to providing the associates in Prescott Valley with the best technology and facilities available, so expansion was approved last fall.
Heavy equipment has scraped dirt and started the foundation for the 40,000-square-foot addition to the west side of the existing 100,000-square-foot plant. McKinley said the builder is using local labor and subcontractors as much as possible. The facility is located at 6800 E. Second Street, just south of Hwy 69.
The new construction will include remodeling existing office and administrative space and adding thousands of square feet for new printing equipment, laminating and finishing machinery. Equipment will be state-of-the-art, with capability for printing, laminating and finishing of paper, film and foil for food packing.
Projected completion date for the expansion project is March or April 2019.
McKinley, whose experience in the business began in Oregon in 1981, said industry growth is creating significant job opportunities. “We’re always in the market for new associates. We want people who are interested in solid careers working for a privately held, family-owned company. Our expansion will provide added capacity for an additional 30 jobs over the next two or three years.”
Printpack currently employs 130 people, including administrative and associate staff personnel.
“We’ve been fortunate. Once our associates learn their job skills, they have the opportunity to advance. Many senior leaders in the company have worked their way through the ranks and have illustrious careers,” said McKinley. “For example, here in Prescott Valley, most of the leadership team started at the entry level and worked their way up. Marcus Fouss, now our performance systems manager, has been here 26 years, and he started at the bottom.”
Fouss was proud to note that his 21-year-old son recently accepted a job with Printpack.
Printpack’s senior associates provide on-the-job training for new employees. “We also work with Yavapai College and its graduates, especially the electronic technicians. Our Human Resource staff members really enjoy seeing them.” McKinley said.
McKinley also made sure to highlight the salary levels at Printpack. “Our associates start at $16 [per hour] and get good benefit packages and 401(k) plans. They can advance, and many do move into positions to earn $25 to $30 an hour. We have a full range of positions open, from production to industrial technology, graphics, quality control, maintenance. We’re always actively seeking female employees, too. We just identified a woman electronic technician we’re bringing on board through our intern program. We’d like to find more.”
Associates have options, too, for when they work. The plant operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Trucks routinely are backed up into the shipping bay to haul large rolls of packaging to vendors around the United States.
The Prescott Valley plant manufactures millions of packaging products that go to Southern Arizona and the West Coast, where they then are used for packaging fresh produce and salad products. “But we also print food packages for dozens of other national major fresh produce vendors and stores,” said McKinley.
Security measures at Printpack facilities are strict. “Because the products we manufacture are very scientifically engineered and tested, we’re always aware of protecting what we do. Most people don’t even think about the packaging that surrounds their produce. They don’t realize that sack around their salad has been carefully designed to sustain just the right amount of moisture so the product won’t spoil.”
Responding to a question about its use of plastic in light of growing worldwide environmental concerns about plastic contamination, McKinley said, “Printpack leads the industry in developing packaging products designed to enhance product shelf life. All are intended to reduce the carbon footprint through less food waste and packaging required. All our facilities have goals of zero landfill and are accountable to improved sustainability metrics.”
Printpack customers include Frito Lay, Starbucks, Dole and Fresh Express, along with grocery chains and national cereal, coffee, pet food and snack food companies.
At the corporate level, annual revenues are estimated to be approaching $2 billion. Printpack headquarters are in Atlanta, Georgia; however, the company has sites in seven other states, with Arizona being its furthest west location. Printpack also has plants in Mexico and China.
The Prescott Valley facility has been here since 1991, when it first began producing custom flexible packaging for a variety of national and international firms. The company has twice been named Arizona Manufacturer of the Year. QCBN
By Ray Newton, QCBN
Photo by Ray Newton