Updated: 11:56 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 | Posted: 8:55 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013

Huhtamaki plans to grow Franklin plant



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Huhtamaki plans to grow Franklin plant photo
GARY STELZER
An employee unloads Arby’s fry boxes from a machine Thursday, Nov 4, 2010, at Huhtamaki Inc.’s paperboard plant in Franklin, Ohio. The Franklin plant is formerly known as Ample Industries. Staff photo by Gary Stelzer

By Chelsey Levingston

Staff Writer

Huhtamaki Inc., the global consumer goods packaging company expanding in the region, wants to grow its Franklin plant to be one of the largest nested food tray and folding food carton producers in the country, company officials said..

The Franklin plant, formerly known as Ample Industries Inc., was already a growing company when Huhtamaki bought it in 2011 for approximately $31 million. It currently has about 240 employees, one of Franklin’s largest private employers.

Ample, located at 4000 Commerce Center Drive in Franklin, specializes in nested paperboard packaging such as food trays, French fry scoops and clamshell sandwich boxes for national quick-service restaurants. Customers include Arby’s, Dairy Queen, Yum! Brands, Subway and Buffalo Wild Wings, among others, said Bob Fairchild, who co-founded Ample in 1997.

Ample has turned in record sales every year since its inception, reaching annual sales of about $60 million in 2011, Fairchild said. He is now vice president of Huhtamaki’s folding carton division and national account sales.

The growth is fed by demand in the fast food market and the portability of food and beverages, Fairchild said. Huhtamaki expects to see more future growth in this consumer market as the economy recovers.

Huhtamaki bought Ample as part of a broader strategy to expand more into the foodservice industry, said Clay Dunn, executive vice president of North America. Huhtamaki, headquartered in Finland, is known for the Chinet brand of disposable tableware and is a major maker of ice cream cartons.

Over the last 18 months, Huhtamaki acquired Paris Packaging Inc., which has operations in Texas, Alabama and Kentucky; Ample Industries here in Warren County; and Winterfield LLC of Indiana. New manufacturing plants have been added for a total 3,500 employees and 17 facilities in North America.

That includes a third plant to open in Southwest Ohio in Batavia Twp. by the end of the year. Batavia Twp. will initially make paper drink cups and could add more production lines in future phases. The companies Huhtamaki has acquired make a large volume of product, so the Batavia Twp. site will also be a new hub of the company’s consolidated distribution network.

In 2000, Huhtamaki also purchased a plastics plant in New Vienna that makes Chinet Cut Crystal and other products.

“Globally we’re very large on food service business. We have had a more limited product line in North America historically and we’ve expanded into kind of the more mainstream paper cups, French fry containers, food trays that we didn’t use to make,” Dunn said at an event last Tuesday to celebrate the Batavia project.

Batavia Twp. in Clermont County makes a good location for a distribution center because of its proximity to a majority of customers within one day’s drive, he said.

Meanwhile Ample’s business is growing quickly.

“Long term we hope that we’ll expand Franklin. Right now, we’re reconfiguring the balance between some of those plants, making sure that we have the right utilization,” Dunn said. “It’s growing, expanding, and we’re frankly going to have to move some stuff out so we can move some stuff in because (Franklin’s) pretty well chock full right now.”

Ample Industries has a played a big role in Huhtamaki’s foodservice expansion because of an N-line technology production process Ample developed. N-line is a type of continuous production process that helps Ample churn out about 12 million cartons a day out of large paper rolls. Huhtamaki is taking the technology and putting it in its California plants, Dunn said.

Plans for Franklin are to add equipment for five more N-line production lines over the next year to increase sales of N-line manufactured items by 50 percent, Fairchild said. After that, the Franklin plant will have 13 or 14 of these high-tech production lines.

“Huhtamaki has invested in capitalization in this equipment to expand in Franklin,” Fairchild said.

“Huhtamaki had a desire to grow into this national account business, so the marriage of Huhtamaki and Ample Industries was a perfect marriage because it allowed them to get into some of the markets they wanted to be in, and it allowed us to get into a company with the financial capability to expand in the markets that I wanted to go to,” Fairchild said.

Ample Industries was founded in 1997 by Middletown businessmen Perry Thatcher, Bill Akers Sr. and Fairchild. Thatcher died in 2010. Akers Sr. is also the founder of corrugated paper company Akers Packaging Service Group of Middletown.


Huhtamaki Inc.

  • Finland-based consumer goods packaging company, known for the Chinet brand of disposable tableware
  • Owns three manufacturing plants in Southwest Ohio — the former Ample Industries in Franklin, which makes nested paperboard cartons for the fast-food industry; a plastics plant in New Vienna, which makes Chinet Cut Crystal and other products; and a paper drink cups plant and distribution hub in Batavia Twp. opening in 2013
  • Owns 17 total North American manufacturing plants employing 3,500 people, including Ohio facilities
  • North American headquarters are De Soto, Kan.

 
 

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