Some Corrugated and Containerboard History: Part Two
By Ralph Young
November 13, 2023
In the September/October issue of BoxScore, I delivered a brief summary of some of our industry’s key players and how they’ve evolved to where they are today. In this issue, I’m continuing that approach with part two, as follows.
Great Northern Nekoosa Corp. acquired forest products group Owens-Illinois for $1.15 billion in 1987. The unit had been expected to be sold ever since New York investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. acquired Owens-Illinois in a $3.64 billion leveraged buyout in February that year. Toledo, Ohio-based Owens-Illinois was one of the world’s largest packaging concerns. The forest products group had revenue of $730 million in 1986. The unit also operated 21 corrugated box plants.
Hinde and Dauch
Hinde and Dauch is the original hay/straw medium jute operation that started in the late 19th century as a threshing and baling operation, which later expanded to corrugated box plants. From its very humble beginnings in Sandusky, Ohio, it expanded east to New Jersey, west to Indiana, and north to Toronto. It grew to 28 manufacturing plants in 18 cities, and at the pinnacle of its creative, independent, and entrepreneurial efforts, it was the largest corrugated box producer in the world. Over the years, it became part of what at various times were Westvaco, Displayco Midwest, Chesapeake Display and Packaging, Temple-Inland, and now International Paper.
Great Northern Nekoosa Corp.
In June 1990, Great Northern Nekoosa Corp. shareholders gave formal approval to a $5 billion takeover by Georgia-Pacific Corp., creating the nation’s largest paper and forest products company at that time.
Crown Zellerbach was a large paper manufacturing firm formed 1928 by the union of Zellerbach Corp. (founded in 1924 in San Francisco by Isadore Zellerbach) and Crown Willamette. Gaylord Container was a byproduct of the hostile takeover of Crown Zellerbach by Sir James Goldsmith in July 1985, which resulted in the breakup of the San Francisco-based forest products corporation in May 1986. The more profitable manufacturing assets (fine paper mills) were sold to James River Corp. of Richmond, Virginia (which became Fort James in 1997 and was acquired by Georgia-Pacific in 2000).
Southern Container Corp.
In March 2008, Rock-Tenn Co. completed the deal to acquire privately held containerboard manufacturing and corrugated packaging business Southern Container Corp. for $851 million. Norcross, Georgia-based Rock-Tenn then became the eighth-largest manufacturer of containerboard in North America. Southern Container operated the Syracuse, New York, Solvay mill, one of the lowest-cost recycled containerboard mills in North America. It also ran eight integrated corrugated box plants, two sheet plants, and four high-impact graphics facilities.
Longview Fibre’s operations, east of the Mississippi River, were purchased by U.S. Corrugated Inc. and then by KapStone. On October 31, 2011, KapStone acquired U.S. Corrugated Inc., which owned a recycled paper mill in Cowpens, South Carolina, and 14 box and corrugated sheet plants.
Boise Cascade Corp.
In November 2004, Boise Cascade Corp. completed its sale of its paper, building products, and timberland assets to Madison Dearborn, a private-equity investment firm. Boise Cascade then renamed itself OfficeMax, which it had acquired in 2003. In February 2008, the company spun off its paper and packaging operations to a new company, Boise Inc., with Boise Cascade resuming the use of its old name.
In January 1984, Temple-Inland was spun off from Time Inc. In October 1985, Inland sold its Eastex Packaging Inc. unit to Manville Forest Products Corp., a subsidiary of Manville Corp. That same year, Georgia Kraft Co. was dissolved, with Inland becoming the sole owner of the Rome, Georgia, linerboard mill. In 1986, Inland acquired a linerboard mill in Orange, Texas, along with three box plants from Owens-Illinois. In 1990, the company purchased Indianapolis-based Pakway Container Corp., operating three box plants, and California-based Crockett Container Corp., operating four box plants; this brought Inland’s box plant total to 40.
On September 6, 2011, Temple-Inland Inc. agreed to be bought by International Paper Co. for $4.3 billion, or $32 per share, plus $600 in assumed debt.
On November 1, 2011, U.S. Corrugated consummated a transaction with KapStone Paper and Packaging Corp. with the sale of 14 of its manufacturing facilities and its Cowpens, South Carolina, paper mill. The latter mill was originally built in 1992 as a greenfield operation by Lin Pac, a U.K.-based company. This was one of the mini mill concept operations to use 100% recovered fiber. The remaining company assets consist of two full-line corrugated plants, three sheet plants, and two display houses.
In March 1998, Georgia-Pacific Corp. agreed to acquire CeCorr Inc., a corrugated sheets producer, for about $190 million in cash and stock. CeCorr, a closely held company based in Indianapolis, operated 11 sheet feeder plants, a corrugating medium paper mill, and several specialty operations and support service groups.
Jefferson Smurfit Corp.
Jefferson Smurfit Corp.’s U.S. operations merged with Stone Container in 1998, and the new company became Smurfit Stone Container Corp. Jefferson Smurfit had established a major presence in the U.S. with the 1981 and 1982 acquisitions of Alton Box and Diamond International. In 1986, it bought a major interest in Container Corp. of America.
Smurfit Stone Container Corp.
In May 2000, Smurfit Stone Container Corp. acquired St. Laurent Paperboard Inc. The new company then bought the Stevenson, Alabama, medium mill in 2002 from MeadWestvaco. Smurfit Stone went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2009. Rock-Tenn bought those assets in a $3.5 billion deal that closed in May 2011.
Stone Container Corp.
Stone Container Corp. bought Consolidated-Bathhurst of Canada, a newsprint maker, in 1989. In 1998, Stone merged with Jefferson Smurfit Corp. The resulting entity was named Smurfit Stone Container Corp., which at the end of the 20th century grossed more than $7 billion in annual sales.
In September 1995, Westvaco Corp., a major manufacturer of paper, packaging, and chemicals, announced it had signed a letter of intent covering the sale of its container division to Weyerhaeuser, headquartered in Tacoma, Washington. The sale included Westvaco’s 10 U.S. corrugated box plants in Baltimore; Buffalo, New York; Chicago; and Cleveland. In September 2002, it completed the sale of its Stevenson, Alabama, corrugating medium mill and related assets, including seven container plants and 82,000 acres of timberland, to Smurfit Stone Container for $375 million that it had acquired when it merged with Mead in August 2001.
Hoerner Waldorf Corp.
In 1977, Hoerner Waldorf Corp., a paperboard and corrugated box manufacturer, merged into Champion International. Hoerner had acquired Waldorf Paper Products through a series of purchases between 1959 and 1966.
The most dramatic event in the transformation of Chesapeake Corp. came in May 1997, when the company sold its West Point kraft products mill, four corrugated container plants, and other related assets to St. Laurent Paperboard Inc. for about $500 million.
Ralph Young is the principal of Alternative Paper Solutions and is AICC’s technical advisor. Contact Ralph directly about technical issues that impact our industry at askralph@AICCbox.org.
Sources: Personal knowledge from employment, media articles over 40 years, Corrugated Shipping Containers: An Engineering Approach, annual reports, 10Ks, industry technical committees, interviews, personal relationships, and Wikipedia.