60th Anniversary

Great Northern has a long history in the packaging, POP merchandising, and protective packaging markets. Here is a look back at some of our major events over the past 60 years.

The Founders

In 1962, social acquaintances Jim Davis, Bob Brown, and John Maring took a gamble on a new corrugated box business with each contributing funds to start the company. They named it Great Northern Container. Davis, who was previously associated with Marathon Division of American Can Co. was elected president of the Corporation. Brown had experience in sales at Wisconsin Container Corp., Menasha, and was elected vice president and secretary. Maring was previously sales manager of the Menasha Wooden Ware Corp.’s corrugated plant and was elected vice president and sales manager at Great Northern.


The Firsts

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The First Employees

Great Northern’s initial work crew consisted of 15-18 employees as company slowly grew to fill out an eight-hour shift. By 1965, the operation had three shifts working to fulfill orders.

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The First Customers

One of Great Northern’s first customers was Presto Products located in Appleton. Presto was a private label plastic bag and wrap manufacturer with customers like Sears, A&P, and Shop Rite. Great Northern provided a variety of packaging solutions for their products. Presto continues as a customer of Great Northern today. Other customers included Borden in Plymouth, WI, and Ripon Foods, a snack item manufacturer in Ripon, WI.

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The First Facility

Soon after Great Northern Container was founded, construction on a 30,000 sq ft plant was started on Stroebe Road in Appleton, WI. Until the plant was complete, the first offices were located on East Wisconsin Ave. in Neenah, WI. According to Bob Brown, “In the early days, we would go get the orders and then find someone to manufacture the containers for us and ship them.”

The original manufacturing plant was a 30,000-square-foot building constructed on farmland. Two more additions would take place over the years, bringing the first building to over 180,000 square feet. This allowed Great Northern, then known as Great Northern Container, to provide finishing work on corrugate sheets that were purchased.

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The First Expansion

In 1975, the 390 Stroebe Road building that housed our first corrugator was constructed across the street from the main plant. The original 80,000 sq ft $3 million plant underwent a 90,000 sq ft, $7 million expansion in 1985. Brown recalled, “We started as a sheet plant that was a pretty basic operation where you buy paper from other companies that combine the paper into corrugate.” The plant supplied corrugate sheets for both the Appleton and Racine operation which opened in 1969.


Through The Years

1962
1964
1967
1973
1976
1976
1979
1980
1985
1986
1987
1994
1995
1998
1998
2004
2004
2007
2008
2010
2016
2016
2017
2017
2022

1962

Great Northern Corporation is founded

1962

1964

Great Northern Plastics is established

1964

1967

30,000 sq ft facility opened in Racine, WI to broaden our geographic reach. Among our first customers was Western Publishing who produced Golden Books

1967

1973

Great Northern forms a joint venture with Hayes Manufacturing named Laminations Corporation

1973

1976

Specialty Group is formed with Rollguard® and Custom Packaging

1976

1976

Corrugator installed in new 80,000 sq ft facility in Appleton, WI

1976

1979

Great Northern changes name to Great Northern Corporation as company expands into new markets and product lines

1979

1980

Great Northern sells its plastics facility to Tuscarora, Inc.

1980

1985

A state of the art package testing facility is established in Appleton

1985

1986

90,000 sq ft corrugating and conversion facility expansion in Appleton leads the industry in automation and modernization

1986

1987

Great Northern celebrates its 25 year anniversary and installs cellular phones in company vehicles

1987

1994

Racine expands with 108,000 sq. ft. addition

1994

1995

Acquires Laminations, an industry leader in edge protection

1995

1998

Laminations adds a manufacturing facility in Jacksonville, FL and the following year moves its headquarters to Appleton

1998

1998

Racine facility expands again with 90,000 sq ft addition

1998

2004

Acquired Kell Container in Chippewa Falls, WI

2004

2004

Opened StrataGraph in Oshkosh, WI

2004

2007

Opened New Jersey-based design center

2007

2008

Acquired Creative Carton in Minneapolis, MN

2008

2010

First of two HP digital presses installed in Chippewa Falls, WI

2010

2016

Two Ward ServoGraphix Flexo presses and Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 162 Litho press installed

2016

2016

Great Northern Corporation becomes Great Northern

2016

2017

Great Northern acquires United Displaycraft, a manufacturer of permanent displays, expanding our retail portfolio

2017

2017

HP High Speed Web Digital press installed in Oshkosh, WI

2017

2022

StrataGraph brand merged with Great Northern Packaging group

2022

Great Expectations

Great Expectations is more than a tagline, it is an attitude. At Great Northern, customer challenges are met by an undying spirit to doing what others can’t or won’t. It’s in our DNA. And it is what our customers have come to expect with Great Northern.

How can we exceed your expectations?