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Atlantic Corrugated

By AICC Staff

September 6, 2017

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At Atlantic Corrugated, they know you cannot do everything alone. In today’s complex business world, which is spread out over wide geographic territories, a box company succeeds when it partners with others and expands its reach.

Even its inception was based on the understanding that one company couldn’t do it all. Before Atlantic existed, Ed Barlow Sr. was running Boxes to Size, Inc. During the 1980s, it was growing rapidly and found it couldn’t be all things to all people. So, Barlow Sr. founded Atlantic Corrugated in 1985, a sister facility that could cater to smaller quantities and quick-turn orders that required a significant level of service.

“In 1985, we started with one customer in an 18,000-square-foot facility,” says Edward Barlow II, the founder’s son. “Today, Atlantic Corrugated is 32 years strong and operates debt-free in a 60,000-square-foot facility.”

They service many industries, but have particular strength in the distribution of alcohol, tobacco, and food products. In 1996, the parent company was sold to Pratt Industries and no longer exists under its original name.

Barlow started in the box industry when he was still a teenager. He worked for his father in the manufacturing facility of Boxes to Size. He did handwork, assembly, and hand-gluing.

“Over time, I became involved with the manufacturing processes and eventually moved into sales,” Barlow says. “After graduating from Virginia Tech in 1990, I went to work for the sister facility, Atlantic Corrugated. I began purchasing Atlantic Corrugated from my father in 1991 and own the business today.”

Today, the Richmond, Virginia-based Atlantic Corrugated has grown from that single-customer start to serving customers in 20 states as far west as Arizona. They do this by forming partnerships with other companies to serve those customers in other states.

Also, while they continue to be true to their original founding intention as a sheet plant company, they have branched out and grown beyond that original focus.

“Atlantic Corrugated was founded on the premise of serving a particular niche: small quantities, fast turnaround with a high level of service,” says Barlow. “While we continue to serve this niche today, over time we added machinery to position ourselves for growth. The equipment we added allows for higher run volumes and different types of products.”

Barlow also suggests the relationships they have nurtured with other corrugated manufacturers and suppliers of various packaging projects have let them expand their reach. They can now support the manufacture and distribution of their products to a customer base beyond their immediate region.

“In particular, these partnerships allow us to support a customer or customers with multiple locations across the United States,” says Barlow.

Since their founding as a way to meet specific customer needs, Atlantic Corrugated continues to focus on service that sets them apart from their competitors.

“Our central philosophy is ‘quality products and extraordinary service—every customer, every time,’ ” Barlow says. “Our business practices center around putting the customer first.”

In their efforts to become aware of each customer’s needs and cater their products and services to meet and exceed those needs, Atlantic offers solutions including but not limited to, the following:

  • Packaging design.
  • Warehousing and distribution for JIT.
  • Assembly and co-pack services.
  • Management of third-party distribution services for delivery of assembled, co-pack products across the United States.
  • VMI (vendor-managed inventory).
  • Accounting solutions for specialized customers with particular needs.
  • Procurement and distribution of molded fiber and foam products.

Barlow has spent the past three decades helping grow Atlantic Corrugated into what it is today. He acknowledges, though, that technology has changed the industry a lot, as it has made huge strides, especially in the past 20 years.

“Anyone entering our industry today should take advantage of any learning opportunity related to course studies or internships to help understand the evolution of our industry, as well as technology-based advancements such as digital print,” says Barlow.

For Atlantic, membership in AICC has helped do that. The company has used it to offer online educational opportunities to employees.

“This is a great asset, and we intend to remain involved with the online offerings made available by AICC,” Barlow says.

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width=150Virginia Humphrey is director of membership at AICC. She can be reached at 703-535-1283 or vhumphrey@aiccbox.org.