Ultra Pac Inc., a Rogers, Minn.-based thermoformer, has established distribution hubs in Florida and California for its virgin and recycled PET produce containers.
The California hub could be the first step toward establishing a West Coast thermoforming plant, the company said.
The firm, which mainly relies on distributors to sell its products, expects these agreements to make it more competitive.
In Lakeland, Fla., Ultra Pac is working with Highland Distributi on for on-demand shipment of containers to produce companies.
The firms signed the agreement Aug. 31.
``We've had a long-term relationship with them,'' Cal Krupa, Ultra Pac chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview.
Ultra Pac ships bulk quantities of unlabeled produce containers made in Rogers to Highland's warehouse. Highland then labels them and fills customer orders.
In California, Ultra Pac is taking a different approach. The firm plans to leas e a 110,000-square-foot facility in Hollister, Calif., for warehousing, labeling and possibly manufacturing produce containers. The firm plans to begin operating out of the plant in February without using a distributor. The facilit y will employ about 50.
Krupa said the firm will be able to add more machines in the future, but he declined to say how many might be needed, or when.
The changes will not affect employment in the firm's headquarters and manufacturin g facility in Rogers. Terms of the deals were not revealed.
Ultra Pac extrudes virgin and recycled PET into sheet and thermoforms it into clear and colored containers. Customers include supermarkets, distributors of food packaging, wholesale bakery companies, fruit and vegetable growers, delicatessens, processors and retailers of prepared foods and food-service providers.
In the past year, the company has undergone restructuring and now operates six extrusion lines and 33 thermoforming lines. It employs about 400. For the year ended Jan. 31, Ultra Pac reported sales of $61.7 million.