Ronpak expects its paper bag capacity to grow from current 2.5 million bags/day after move to new US$16.8M Shreveport, Louisiana, facility

SHREVEPORT, Louisiana , May 29, 2012 (press release) – At the Port of Caddo-Bossier, paper rolls are transformed hour after hour into millions of the country's fast-food carry-out bags.

Ronpak has been churning out about 2.5 million those bags a day since November 2011, and those numbers are expected to grow as plans for expanding its facilities move forward. The plant employs about 60 now, but that number should reach at least 250 by 2018.

Earlier this month, Ronpak owner Ron Sedley and local politicians broke ground for the company's new, permanent 155,000-square-foot facility. The groundbreaking followed an announcement that the manufacturer's headquarters would move from New Jersey to Shreveport in 2013.

The relocation of the Ronpak headquarters is expected to create at least 80 new manufacturing jobs and 20 new headquarters jobs by 2013.

According to plant manager Kevin Wascom, Ronpak produces 10 percent of McDonald's North American carry-out bags at the temporary port facility. In January, the company met its first order of 12.5 million bags and have maintained that production level each week. Orders are still light for the facility's business with Arby's, Sonic and Wendy's, but Wascom said they are growing.

At a glance, operations at the Shreveport Ronpak facility seem pretty simple. At one end of the facility are stacks of huge rolls of paper, all of varying size and quality. At the other end are stacked pallets of finished paper bags, packaged and ready for distribution. In between the raw and finished paper products are seven running printing presses and the men and women who operate them.

Without the Louisiana Economic Development FastStart Workforce Training Program, Wascom said, the time and resources wouldn't have been available to bring new workers up to speed on the printers. He said it took about eight weeks to get the first crew trained. Wascom adds the machines can turn out between 400 and 500 finished bags per minute.

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