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5:43 PM Fri, Nov. 16th

Major plant expansion at Printpack will create 30 new local jobs

Marcus Fouss, Printpack’s performance systems manager. (George Lurie/Courier)

Marcus Fouss, Printpack’s performance systems manager. (George Lurie/Courier)

One of Prescott Valley’s largest employers will be putting out the "help wanted" sign again soon.

Printpack Inc., which manufactures flexible and rigid plastic packaging, just began moving dirt on a $45 million, 38,000-square-foot plant expansion near the west side of its Prescott Valley facility on Second Street, just off Highway 69.

Printpack CEO Jimmy Love, who traveled to PV from the company’s Atlanta headquarters to announce the expansion, said the company is excited about making the additional investment in Arizona.

“We’ve been very pleased with our workforce in Prescott Valley,” Love said. The expansion, he added, would provide company employees with “the best technology available in our industry.”

The expansion of Printpack’s existing 100,000-square-foot PV plant will create at least 30 new local production jobs, the CEO promised. Most will involve operating new, state-of-the-art printing presses to be installed when construction is complete.

Printpack already employs 130 at its PV plant, which was built in 1991. After Sam’s Club closed in early 2018, the company cracked Yavapai County’s top 10 list, coming in just behind Fry’s Foods and Yavapai College’s PV campus as the area’s 10th-largest employer.

Marcus Fouss, Printpack’s performance systems manager, has been with the company for 26 years. “This is a fantastic place to work,” said Fouss, a New Jersey native who started at Printpack as an extruder assistant before becoming a press operator and then eventually moving into the company’s management track.

“They offer great wages and have a policy of promoting from within,” Fouss said. “My 21-year-old son actually just got a job with the company.”

Printpack has carved out a lucrative niche in the packaging arena, perfecting what it calls “the science of optimizing shelf life” for fresh-cut produce.

The company creates custom packaging for a wide range of products, combining what its marketing materials describe as “consumer-friendly features like ‘flexibility’ and ‘breathability’ with ‘eye-catching, high-impact’ graphics.”

Printpack also makes packaging for beverage, pharmaceutical and agricultural products sold by a number of Fortune 500 companies.

Although the company is privately held and does not release financial information, Printpack’s current annual revenues are estimated at $1.5 billion to $2 billion.

The company employs 3,500 worldwide at manufacturing plants in Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina and Illinois as well as in China, India and Mexico.

Richard Parker, Prescott Valley’s community development director, said Printpack is an example of the type of manufacturer the town is hoping to continue to attract. “They are bringing highly skilled, high-paying new jobs to Prescott Valley,” Parker said. “We need more companies like Printpack.”

Others around the state have also taken notice of Printpack’s success in PV. The company has twice been named Arizona Manufacturer of the Year.

The company has a unique origin story. Founder J. Erskine Love Jr., the current CEO’s father, started the business in a Sandy Springs, Georgia, office basement in 1956 using a cellophane bag machine.

Over the years, the company has grown via both expansion and acquisition. In 1996, Printpack bought the flexible packaging department of the James River Corp. for about $365 million.

Printpack’s new Prescott Valley expansion, scheduled to be completed in early 2019, will create additional space for state-of-the-art printing, laminating and finishing equipment.

Printpack’s Prescott Valley facility makes wrapping for produce grown in the region. “Our packaging is laser-scored so it breathes,” Fouss said. The company, he added, has an on-site quality control department that checks samples of all orders before they are shipped.

Frito Lay is Printpack’s largest corporate customer. The company also makes packaging for Starbucks, Dole and Fresh Express.

Diana Buchanan, HR manager at the PV plant, has worked for the company for 15 years. “I’m actually a relative newbie,” she said. “It’s a very tightly knit culture here. People stay a long time. We’ve had employees who’ve been with the company almost 50 years.”

PV plant manager Lonnie McKinley has worked for company for over 35 years.

“It’s the kind of culture where everybody is family,” Buchanan said.

Ginger Johnson, director of the Greater Prescott Regional Economic Partnership, said Printpack has a reputation as one of the area’s premier employers. “I know people who have worked there, left and then gone back because it’s such a great place to work,” she said.