Packaging giant Menasha definitely has "This End Up." Founded in 1849 as a woodenware business, the holding company now manufactures packaging and paperboard, returnable materials-handling systems, product labels, and promotional materials, as well as offers logistics and marketing services. Its subsidiaries include Menasha Packaging (corrugated packaging and point-of-purchase displays), ORBIS Corporation (plastic reusable packaging), and LeveragePoint Media (in-store promotional services). Menasha also has investments in other manufacturing companies. Descendants of founder Elisha Smith own a majority of Menasha.
In 2011 Menasha agreed to sell one of its subsidiaries, Cortegra Group (pharmaceutical labeling and packaging), to UK-based consumer packaging manufacturer Chesapeake Ltd. The deal, which expands Chesapeake's Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Packaging unit's US footprint, marks the end of pharmaceutical packaging manufacturing for Menasha.
The privately held packager focuses on product development for a diverse group of niche markets to fuel its revenues. Even though the packaging industry has declined, Menasha has managed to increase its volume for the last four years. Menasha's investment in improving its manufacturing capacity -- it has pumped money into capital investments at its Neenah Printing and Menasha PrePrint divisions -- and garnering industry recognition has helped it win new customers, primarily in the US.
The company, while it distributes in Canada, China, Mexico, Singapore, and some countries in Europe, still does not have the global presence that its competitors have. Menasha derives the majority of its revenues from the US. To make up for a more modest global market share, the company has made a number of domestic acquisitions to bulk up its core operating units. The purchase of Norseman Plastics in 2008 opened the door to the world of plastic reusable containers, trays, bins, and pallets, used in bakery, beverage, meat processing, agriculture, and waste collection, notably in Canada. Norseman also brought manufacturing and warehouse capacity in Canada and the US.
In addition to acquisitions, Menasha keeps its innovative offerings rolling hot off the press. Its largest operating unit, Menasha Packaging, introduced a retail display roller base coupled with a customized Pack 'N' Stack display. The company utilizes radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking for perishable produce containers through its ORBIS unit, which makes a slew of new products, including a powertrain pallet for carmakers, high-tech totes for distribution and automated storage and retrieval systems, and a bulk container specialized for beverages. Its LeveragePoint Media unit created a point-of-sale initiative for a large prescription company. These sorts of acquisitions help to distinguish the packager from its rivals.
Menasha's leadership turned a new page in 2009. The company appointed James Kotek as its president and CEO in 2009; he succeeded Arthur Huge, who retired. Kotek has served as president of ORBIS, Menasha's second-largest operating division, and drove two of the company's largest acquisitions, Norseman Plastics and LINPAC Group's North American material handling business in 2006. – less