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Atlantic Packaging, Others In Wilmington Make State List Of Top Private Companies

By Cece Nunn, posted Oct 18, 2017
Atlantic Packaging's headquarters in Wilmington are on North 23rd Street. (Photo courtesy of Atlantic Packaging)
Three Wilmington-based companies have ranked this year on a revenue-based list of the top privately held firms in the state.

Atlantic Packaging, legally named Atlantic Corporation of Wilmington Inc., ranked No. 16 on this year's Grant Thornton North Carolina 100 list, compiled by Chicago-based accounting firm Grant Thornton for Business North Carolina magazine and based on revenue information provided by the firms. Atlantic Packaging was No. 17 last year.

The revenue categories ranged from $1 billion or more (the top three) to $79 million and under (Nos. 79-100), with Atlantic Packaging in the $500 million-$900 million group.

Also on the list from the Port City are N2 Publishing (No. 61 and new to the list this year), a growing publisher of customized neighborhood magazines, and MegaCorp Logistics (No. 66), a logistics consulting firm. The No. 1 firm this year was SAS Institute Inc. in Cary, led by Jim Goodnight, who grew up in Wilmington.

According to a Business North Carolina article about the list, North Carolina construction companies showed some of the biggest growth. For example, Raleigh-based Clancy & Theys Construction Co., which works on major projects in Wilmington and has an office in the Port City, jumped up 10 spots, from No. 29 last year to No. 19 this year. Barnhill Contracting Co., which is based in Rocky Mount and has a growing presence in Wilmington, ranked No. 13.

Atlantic Packaging, founded in 1946, is a distributor of industrial packaging materials and a paper converter. With headquarters at 806 N. 23rd St. in Wilmington, a new Packaging Solution Center in Charlotte and more than a dozen other locations across the U.S., Atlantic Packaging is on track to become a nearly $540 million firm this year, said Wes Carter, company president.

All of the company's administrative offices and the base for its poultry, pork and beef packaging program are in Wilmington, Carter said.

"As we continue to grow and expand, we have a lot of people in a lot of places, but Wilmington is certainly still home and headquarters," he said Wednesday.

Company officials are working with an architect on the renovation and expansion of Atlantic Packaging's North 23rd Street facility.

"Sometime over the next eight to 12 months, we will have a new facade facing 23rd Street and a whole new bank of offices and a nice new greeting area for customers and vendors," Carter said. "It will be a pretty significant upgrade. We're excited about it."

Meanwhile, the expanded Charlotte facility has been well-received across the market, he said.

"We've been doing regular tours and demonstrations with our packaging testing simulators for the last six or eight weeks on a very regular basis. We had a lot of major consumer products companies come through there, and the response that we got has been pretty overwhelming," Carter said. "I think people are really excited about having access to a facility that can really help them optimize their packaging, that's really focused on the science of packaging, and they can gain a lot of insights into how their products transport across the supply chain. It's really a one-of-a-kind facility, and we've been extremely proud of the way it's all come together."

As companies try to reduce the amount of packaging they use and waste created by the packaging, they've historically had to rely on taking a gamble and testing that packaging on actual shipments. Atlantic Packaging's simulators can replicate what could happen to a pallet of goods wrapped in stretch film (think plastic wrap) as it moves to its destination in a truck or other mode of transportation.

Carter said his company's simulators can help firms reduce their primary and secondary packaging in a responsible way while also working to eliminate damage to products during shipping.

As e-commerce grows, Atlantic is also "extremely focused on working to create automation opportunities for e-commerce customers" in the area of packaging and packaging solutions that can enhance the experience of consumers receiving those packages, Carter said.

Using an example of a high-end cooking tool retailer, "they work really hard and spend a lot of money for stores to create a feeling of premium, of high-end, of quality ... these companies are concerned that they lose some of that value that they spent tens of millions of dollars trying to create [when items are shipped for internet orders. So how do you replicate that? It's all about how those products show up at your doorstep," he said.

Logo-printed bubble wrap and suspension packs are a couple of examples of how that replication can take place, Carter said.

The momentum of the Packaging Solution Center can also boost the company's Wilmington facilities, he said.

"From our perspective, the investments we make at any of our facilities enhance the value of Atlantic across our entire network," Carter said. "We're constantly making the investments ... to grow sales and continue to expand our capabilities."
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