Manufacturing, Real Estate, and Technology

Middle-age spread? Advance Packaging grows at 50

$8M investment adds equipment, capacity and tech; more to come.

August 5, 2016
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Advance Packaging
Advance Packaging’s 40th Street facility covers half a million square feet. Courtesy Advance Packaging Corp.

As it celebrates its 50thanniversary this year, Advance Packaging Corp. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the new 75,000-square-foot addition at its 4459 40thStreet facility, which now totals 500,000 square feet.

The expansion is part of a two-year, $16-million investment the Grand Rapids-headquartered corrugated board manufacturer and converter is making, with $8 million being invested in 2016 and another $8-million investment planned for 2017.

Scott Kloss, sale and marketing media coordinator for Advance Packaging, said the addition, built by Grand Rapids-based Wolverine Construction and completed in mid-June, is one of three major investments Advance Packaging is making in 2016 that will improve the company’s competitiveness in the packaging industry.

The increased space will house a new conveyor and sheet line as well as additional production machines. 

It also has allowed Advance Packaging to vacate an offsite warehouse it had been maintaining and allows for future additional production equipment. 

Another benefit of the additional space is that Advance Packaging was able to switch production to a four-shifts, 24-hour, seven-day schedule. 

Kloss said as a result of the increased production, Advance Packaging has already hired 10 additional employees ranging from general laborer to highly trained operators and shipping personal.

The company has more than 250 employees.

Kloss said Advance Packaging is looking to fill another 50 job openings in production, production supervision, direct sales, customer service, project engineering, maintenance supervision, training managers, HR and purchasing managers.  

“We have had a very difficult time staffing over the past 12 months, as unemployment is so low in the Grand Rapids market,” he said. 

Advance Packaging also invested in new technology to help it garner new business.

“We installed an HP 15500 digital printing press to enter the low-volume, high-end printing business for customers that need display quality printing in smaller volumes,” Kloss said.

He said the initiative entailed building a climate-controlled environment at the 40thStreet facility and upgrading the company’s computer-aided design cutting table to convert the sheets — turning them into finished products — once printed.  

“This has gone very well,” Kloss said. “We have added significant business to our mix as a result.”

The company also upgraded its material handling system to improve workflow throughout the plant.

“We can expand the capacity of output we can produce on a daily basis by over 40 percent,” Kloss said.

Kloss said Advance Packaging plans to continue upgrades next year.

He said the company is looking to add a new state-of-the-art printing press to augment the 7-color Gopfert press it currently utilizes.

“We expect this machine to be installed by September of 2017,” he said. “We have been quite successful in entering the high-end print market for direct flexo printing (using flexible raised printing plates) on corrugated board, winning 19 national awards for printing since 2008.  

“We will also add additional gluing and converting equipment to support the new printing press.”

Kloss said the company’s goal is to be “the leading provider in corrugated packaging and high-end graphic packaging in our region.”

He said recent investments provide an “opportunity to try and stay on the leading edge in flexo and litho (using flat-surface plates) printing.”

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