Top 100: Oakland company sees 23 percent growth in two years

What does a jar of peanut butter, Michael Dell and Tennessee’s Oakland have in common?

The answer: Ring Container Technologies.

An innovator in consumer packaging, the Oakland-based company got its start in 1968.

Ring has continued to build on its 50-year legacy with consistent increases in revenue, employees and facilities: From 2015 to 2017 alone, for instance, Ring’s revenue jumped more than 23 percent — from $350 million to $431 million.

According to Brian Smith, Ring’s vice president of business development and innovation, 2017 was “a record year on many fronts.”

“We had a record amount of sales and a record amount of capital investment,” Smith said. “We are not only growing, we are putting more money back into our business to continue the growth.”

Last year, the company even caught the attention of private capital group MSD Partners LP. The “MSD” stands for Michael S. Dell of Dell Computers.

The New York-based investment firm acquired Ring from chairman Carl Ring and his family. Ben Livingston, president and CEO of Ring, and the executive team kept their ownership interests and positions.

MSD Partners also bought RAPAC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Ring Container Technologies that produces polystyrene products and recycled polystyrene-based resins.

The company operates 18 facilities — including in the U.K. and Canada — and two new locations will open soon in Louisville, Kentucky, and Hagerstown, Maryland. 

Smith said Ring builds or significantly improves one of its existing manufacturing facilities every 12 to 18 months.

With the new facilities and other capital investments, Smith said 2018 is already on track to have high-single-digit growth.

He also noted that, while they are always open to acquiring other companies, they are “picky” and prefer to invest capital in current assets and new locations. 

“Historically, Ring has done an incredible job by focusing on manufacturing, lowering costs, automating and making our manufacturing facilities world-class,” Smith said. “That has always given us a competitive advantage from a quality and cost standpoint. That is really a big part of our reputation, but to assure our continued growth … we are focusing on new and key technologies in the markets we want to serve.”

A few of the ways Ring is expanding and evolving its capabilities include innovations in barrier guard technology to extend the shelf life for items such as peanut butter, as well as Trim-Lite, which is used to reduce a container’s weight.

Ring will continue to focus on packaging for the food service sector for customers such as Bunge, Cargill, ConAgra, Hormel, Stratas Foods and Ventura Foods — which accounts for about 83 percent of its overall business.

Smith expects to see new opportunities in the pet care industry.

“A lot of food companies are buying pet food companies to diversify,” Smith said. “Whether it is Smucker or Kellogg — some of our customers are going that way, too. So, we are focused on growth in pet care.”

But, Smith said Ring’s ultimate success centers on one thing: 

“We have a unique and distinctive culture, and it lends itself to our success,” Smith said. “A good part of it is community service. A lot of times what we do is under the radar, but we are proud to support Memphis and Shelby and Fayette counties with not only volunteer hours but also sponsorship and funding. It is a big part of who Ring is.”  

This article originally appeared in the Memphis Business Journal. Read the full article here