Inland Paperboard & Packaging celebrating 50 years of service

By Greg Miller

Inland Paperboard & Packaging (known by most local folks as Inland Containers) this year is celebrating 50 years of service to Northeast Tennessee.
   A celebration is being planned for July or August when the company has its summer picnic, according to Ed Godsey, General Manager. "I have an employee relations team working on that," Godsey said. "Hopefully, we can do something not only for the employees, but in conjunction with the community."
   Inland provides a variety of shipping containers. "We manufacture corrugated boxes," Godsey said. "We take rolls of paper, corrugate the inside part called the medium, glue that to two -- sometimes three -- outside liners and create a sheet which is cut to order on our corrugator machine that does the fluting. That is then sent to the appropriate-sized press for printing, folding, gluing or die-cutting if it's a die-cut item."
   Most of Inland's customers are in the Tri-Cities area. "Most corrugated box plants ship within about a 150-200 mile radius of their operation," Godsey said. The company also ships to companies from Knoxville to Wytheville, Va. and Asheville and Greensboro, N.C.
   Eastman Chemical Co., American Water Heater and Quebecor Printing are among Inland's customers. Last August, Inland received its third "Eastman Supplier Excellence Award" for its value-adding contributions to Eastman. From more than 1,000 eligible suppliers, Inland was among only 20 suppliers globally to achieve the award status in 2001. The key criteria for award consideration are a minimum of 99 percent quality conformance, a minimum of 95 percent delivery performance and having a significant list of value-added accomplishments for the calendar year for which the award applies.
   Many of the local plant's workers are long-time employees. Eleven employees have a combined total of 426 years with the company. They include Jim Moody, 37 years; Shelby Miller, 34 years; Howard Reed, 36 years; Lanny White, 37 years; Bill Perry, 46 years; Don Brewer, 37 years; Kelsey Ramey, 32 years; Ray Odom, 38 years; Thurman Campbell, 39 years; Buford Taylor, 40 years; and Roy Forbes, 50 years.
   Miller is the quality manager at Inland. "The people in the plant do their own checking," Miller said. "I make sure that they have the processes in place to put out a good product.
   "Inland is a good company, and we have good employees. We don't have a lot of turnover here. When we get somebody, normally they're with us until they retire."
   Technology has made a major impact at Inland over the years, Miller said. "When we were Tri-State Container, before Inland purchased us, we had one computer in the whole place. Now, everyone who works here, even the guys in the plant, has their own computer."
   "Everything is modern and easier than it was years ago," said Ramey, who is the plant's shipping supervisor. "Now we use computers for everything. We used to have to get all the freight bills out by hand. Now, we do it on a computer, and it's so much easier and quicker."
   Inland "is a good company to work for," Ramey said. "They are fair, and they give us the opportunity to advance. It's a good pay scale, probably the best in this area."
   "We have a lot of guys who work here and their kids are working here," Miller said.
   Inland produces about 30,000 tons of containers annually. The plant employees a total of about 188 workers at its two Elizabethton locations, including 50 at the specialty plant at Watauga Industrial Park and 138 at the 1500 W. Elk Avenue facility.
   For more information, call 542-2112.