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CASE PAPER -- Thriving in Philly

March 2002
BY CAROLINE MILLER


Case Paper believes in commitment—both to its customers, employees and the local community. It's a philosophy that is embodied in the recently completed expansion at Case's Philadelphia operation, which is now said to be the largest non-mill converting facility in North America.

Located in North Philadelphia, this 700,000+-square-foot warehouse, converting and distribution operation houses eight sheeters, five trimmers and five slitters/rewinders. Case Paper acquired the facility in 1988 as part of an acquisition of another paper company.

At the time, the acquisition was an easy way for the 59-year-old, family owned business to expand into the Delaware Valley area, recalls Robin Schaffer, executive vice president of Case Paper. The merchant was already shipping paper to the Philadelphia area from the company's then-headquarters in Long Island City, NY.

Initially, the Philadelphia operation—one of six Case facilities across the nation—was focused on board stocks, while the Long Island City headquarters focused on printing papers.

"Our trucks kept criss-crossing each other on the highway. We were shipping board out of Philadelphia to New York, and paper from New York to Philadelphia and New Jersey. It didn't make sense. We realized that we needed to improve our distribution network to maintain our efficiency commitment to our customers," adds Peter Schaffer, Case president and Robin's brother.

The siblings realized that the two operations had to be combined. They considered closing down both the Long Island City and North Philadelphia sites, in order to open a state-of-the-art facility in suburban Bucks County, PA. But the city of Philadelphia was about to offer another alternative.

Good Deal With the State

The building that the Philadelphia plant was located in was about to be designated as a Keystone Opportunity Zone (KOZ) by the state. KOZ sites are specific areas in Pennsylvania with greatly reduced or no tax burdens for property owners, residents and businesses covering a 12-year period. In most cases, the exemption extends to state and municipal taxes.

Even so, while the offer to stay in Philadelphia was certainly tempting, there were still some potential drawbacks. First, the Philadelphia operation was located in an aging, three-story, inner-city factory that had once served as a Philco radio and television assembly plant. It was not exactly conducive to the needs of a paper converting, warehousing and distribution facility.

"Anyone will tell you that you've got to be crazy to run a paper business on two floors," chuckles Robin Schaffer, with amusement.
 

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