“We are very proud of the $8 million project the national company has invested in the Harrison location,” Jimmy Luyet, general manager of WestRock said. ““This is a big investment they made in Harrison and we are very proud of our accomplishments and wanted the public to know.”

The company has base sales of $60 million and plans to expand to $90 million providing more jobs for Harrison.

“In 2015 we had approximately 140 full time employees. We’ve recently hired up to 160 and plan to add more,” Luyet said.

“The printer we purchased this summer is probably the most advanced printer in North America. Management was at a trade show and the company was giving a demonstration. They bought it and we’ve been in the process of installing it this summer,” Luyet said.

Plant manager, Andrew Gratton explained, “In January we had to dig a 12 foot pit in our existing floor and pour additional concrete to support the weight of the printer.”

The additional foundation work was $350,000 just for the new printer to sit on.

“Sheets were feeding through the machine by May,” Gratton said.

A team went to Germany where the machine is manufactured to be trained. Then several of the staff from Germany came to Harrison for the installation process.

“We expanded our warehouse by 38,000 feet, and we have rented the former Emerson facility and added an additional 30,000 feet there,” Luyet said.

“We’ve expanded our footprint at this facility, and in this community by adding warehouse space and additional people. We are grateful WestRock continues to invest in this plant,” Luyet said.

Luyet said the industry players have been reduced in recent years.

“Twenty years ago, there were probably 30 carton folding companies. Now there are about five and we are all fighting for the number one spot,” Luyet said.

The WestRock plant of Harrison has two printers, four cutters and six gluing machines — about $20 million of equipment.

The Harrison team ships products to all 50 states as well as to Canada and Mexico.

“Then our customers ship their products worldwide,” Luyet said.

What is a folding carton? It’s the packaging that protects the products consumers purchase. The cardboard box that holds a carton of Nerds, Planters Peanuts, Ocean Spray Craisins, Dairy Queen ice cream cakes, check boxes for banks, cereal boxes, snack boxes, ammunition boxes and the list continues.

Large rolls of card board paper come into the plant and are cut into the necessary sizes. The team of graphic artists have worked to place as many of the box design on one sheet as possible. All waste is cut away, recycled and eventually returns to the plant to be a new box.

The new printer is a seven color machine which prints the design layers, one color at a time, and dries it before it is handled. If the customer desires, a special coating is added and color can be printed on both sides of the sheet if the design calls for it.

“The printer is constantly monitoring the process and takes a picture of each sheet that is printed. If one dot of a period is missing, it will tell us exactly where the problem is,” Gratton said.

The application of the ink is precisely controlled by a computer system which perfectly matches the balance of ink and water to achieve the desired color.

WestRock makes 2,000 different sizes of boxes. Some are unique shapes like an octagon-shapped box.

“We are known as the ‘can do’ culture plant. Some of the boxes we print may never make it to the shelf if the customer changes their mind. But if someone wants to try something innovative and new, they send it to us and we do it.”

“We have some customers who want a glamorous, shiny box and some want a dull finish. Some customers want the box to have an old look, or a natural look,” Luyet said.

The company has won awards for their innovative cartons from the National Paperboard Association.

“We are very proud of our team,” Luyet said.

Printing manager Jared Horton said, “We have 16 people that work on that printer. We have a 24/7 factory and it takes four people per shift .

WestRock is located at 329 W. Industrial Park Road and the phone number is (870) 741-9401.

WestRock Mach 2

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Andrew Gratton

WestRock has a new printer from Germany. The Harrison facility bosts of having the most advanced printer in North America. The $8 million project was completed this summer and can run 18,000 paperboard sheets per hour. Visit HarrisonDaily.com to view additional photos.

Construction

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Andrew Gratton

In preparation for the new printing press WestRock had to dig 12 foot deep into the foundation and add additional concrete to support the weight of the new press. The cost of this phase of the construction was $350,000.

Checks sheet

Donna Braymer/staff

Boxes for checks are one of the many folding carton products WestRock prints for several national banking institutions.

Construction 2-3

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Andrew Gratton

The lithographic printing press was installed in stages at WestRock.

Donna has written for the HDT for more than 18 years. When off the clock, she enjoys writing for children, teaching piano lessons and being a pastor's wife. The Braymers have three married sons and daughter-in-laws and 9 grandchildren.

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