Not too many companies manage to survive for 150 years, so let's recognize Bemis Co. Inc., the Neenah, Wis.-based flexible packaging company that started with three employees above a machine shop in St. Louis in 1858. Today the company, which is No. 1 on our annual ranking of film & sheet manufacturers, has 55 plants in 10 countries and is one of the largest flexible packaging companies in the world. Tomorrow, Bemis executives will ring the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to kick off a year of events to mark the company's 150th anniversary. Here's a bit of Bemis history, courtesy of the company's news release:
Judson Moss Bemis, founder of the Bemis Company, was the first to champion the use of machine-sewn cotton bags instead of the hand-sewn bags more commonly used at the time. Finding success in textile bag production, Bemis produced new packaging materials as technology and consumer trends developed, expanding into paper bag production in 1913. In the 1950s Bemis began to explore the extrusion, printing, and conversion of polyethylene, and, in 1959, the company entered into the pressure-sensitive adhesives business. Since the 1960s, Bemis has grown significantly, extending its presence in the United States and abroad with strategic acquisitions and moving away from textile bag production. The company has developed new technologies and products for food and consumer product packaging and expanded into new markets such as medical device and pharmaceutical packaging. In 2005, Bemis reached a new milestone, surpassing the $3 billion mark with a record $3.5 billion in net sales.Anniversary celebrations will continue at the Bemis annual meeting in May, and the company will sponsor a traveling series of historical exhibits honoring the company's history, which will be displayed at all the Bemis locations.