Wilmington-headquartered Atlantic Packaging recently announced the company is expanding with the opening of its 80,000 square-foot Packaging Solution Center in Charlotte this month.
The Packaging Solution Center is the first of its kind outside the academic field to feature advanced research, testing and shipping certification, company officials said in a news release. But while the company announced plans to open its more recent large investment in Charlotte last week, Atlantic Packaging Corp. President Wes Carter on Wednesday also mentioned the firm's plans to expand its headquarters in Wilmington.
Carter said he expects Atlantic Packaging to become a nearly $550 million company this year, and additional investment and expansion at the firm's Wilmington headquarters could take place in 2018.
"We are planning to make some investments in our Wilmington facility to add some additional offices to help accommodate growth that we have in our . . . pork and poultry packaging program," Carter said.
Officials are looking into upfitting the company's existing facility at 806 N. 23rd St. in Wilmington, including adding more offices and a "more attractive facade," he said.
Founded in 1946, Atlantic Packaging now has 16 locations around the country. The new solution center is located at Atlantic's existing 300,000-square-foot facility in Charlotte.
The testing technology available in the $10 million facility establishes a new model in the packaging industry that utilizes a science-based approach to find solutions for the industry and help create industry-wide shipping standards, according to the release.
“It’s about the development and evolution of packaging material to meet today’s demands of transit and shipping requirements. And our customers, whereever they may be, get the benefit,” Carter said Wednesday.
The Charlotte area was already home to a large Atlantic Packaging operation near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, which is why company officials chose the location, Carter said, adding that "logistically, it made sense."
"Indirectly, Wilmington will benefit greatly from our ability to grow the business," Carter said. "Certainly, over the next few years, we expect to drive significant business with major companies."
Renovations, new equipment and technology were added to the space, resulting in the multi-million-dollar investment in the Charlotte facility, he said.
"The truly unique thing about the Atlantic Solution Center in Charlotte is the investment we’ve made in sophisticated packaging and unit load testing equipment," Carter said in the release. "If one of our customers is experiencing damage in transit, we can literally re-create that specific route in our center to see where and how their products are failing. This allows us to create customized packaging solutions based on scientific data, virtually eliminating shipping damage and reducing overall packaging costs."
Customers from major consumer products companies will be able to test for the right combination in equipment settings, materials and automation to find a solution that protects their products consistently and efficiently, according to the release. The center also features a packaging lab for testing flexible materials as well as several fully integrated packaging lines to showcase the latest in equipment automation. One of these lines is dedicated to e-commerce automation.
“The real value in the Solution Center is that the customer can view multiple options from various manufacturers,” Eric Farmer, Atlantic vice president for e-commerce sales, said in the release. “They can decide which option they prefer based on cost, sustainability, and effectiveness. Then we can use the lab to verify those results."
Atlantic Packaging's solution center has already gained interest from companies in the food and beverage industry, as well as companies that deal with a lot of palletized goods such as Costco, Carter said Wednesday. The facility allows Atlantic Packaging to service Fortune 500 companies "on a much higher level," he added.
The company will host the grand opening of the new Packaging Solution Center in Charlotte, Aug. 8-12.