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Archive for Thursday, August 12, 1999

LAWRENCE PAPER CO. PACKAGES NEW IDEA

August 12, 1999

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Lawrence Paper Co. does more than make corrugated boxes, having recently branched into display-case design, shrink-wrap packaging and nationwide product distribution.

Long considered a top supplier of boxes for the packaging industry, Lawrence Paper Co. wants to become known for its packaging services, too.

The company's Packaging Solutions division, formed 18 months ago, offers customers the option of contracting for the design, manufacture and packing of display cases and containers for promotional products. The new division generates annual sales of $2.5 million to $3 million.

The business mght range from packing up 18,000 packages of dog food a day or shipping out 39,000 fluorescent light tubes a week. Lawrence Paper brings the products in, gets them into a catchy format and sends them out into stores.

It's done from a new 38,500-square-foot building on Lakeview Road, about a half-mile north of the Kansas Turnpike.

"We do everything," said Denny Johnson, a divisional superintendent at the plant. "We can unify the whole thing into one package."

Though it's building up a new division, Lawrence Paper is no newcomer. It was founded in 1882 along the banks of the Kansas River, and today occupies 800,000 square feet of space in six buildings on 52 acres on the north side of the city.

While the company's economic foundation remains the corrugated material it developed nearly 100 years ago -- today it accounts for about 95 percent of the company's annual sales of $50 million to $60 million -- Packaging Solutions is picking up steam.

The division, which started with 10 employees last year and now has 30, fills clients' orders for stand-up displays, shrink-wrapped trays and other packages used in stores. Among the products handled: Dog food, light tubes, perfume, batteries, jewelry and collectible lanterns.

Companies send their products to Lawrence Paper, where they are stored until being transferred into custom-designed packages and loaded into Lawrence Paper trucks for shipping to retail outlets, including Sam's Club stores.

Alan Hill, Lawrence Paper's president, figures that instead of simply selling empty corrugated boxes to companies, Lawrence Paper should put its distribution system to work as well.

"Packaging has always been the 'weak sister' in the process" for many companies, Hill said. "We're very good at organizing people, so " we knew we could do it better. We're selling the service."

The consolidated design, packaging and distribution system allows the company to diversify as sales of corrugated materials have remained relatively flat during the past decade, Hill said.

Johnson, who has worked for the company for 40 years, said he planned to hire 20 additional temporary employees to help handle a large contract-packaging job later this month.

"It's the newest area with the greatest potential to grow," Johnson said.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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