Construction on $26M box-making plant underway in Richland

Packaging Corporation of America plans to hire 100 people, open in mid-November

Construction is underway on a $26 million cardboard box manufacturing plant that eventually will employ 100 people in the Horn Rapids Industrial Park in Richland.

Packaging Corporation of America, an Illinois-based company, expects to open the plant in mid-November.

The city of Richland sold 42 acres of land at 3003 Kingsgate Way to PCA for $1.7 million.

The plant will be nearly a quarter-million square feet with a steel frame.

Its opening is expected to bring about 65 family-wage jobs to start. Starting pay is about $20 hourly for workers with no experience, up to $38 hourly, plus benefits.

“We’re looking for highly-skilled maintenance personnel and people with shipping backgrounds who can operate mobile equipment to load products,” said Katy Conlan, regional general manager for PCA. “We’re also hiring general associates who can start in assistant roles and move up to operating high-speed converting equipment.”

The first wave of hiring started in April, with those workers visiting similar plants around the country and now assisting with the hiring process for the second wave. Those workers are set to begin Sept. 30.

Conlan said the plant should employ “well more” than 100 workers when fully operational.

The corrugated box manufacturer’s job description for positions at the Richland plant said the company seeks to be “the leader in helping our customers—large and small—package, transport and display products of all kinds.”

The general contractor for the project is Fisher Construction Group of Burlington, Washington.

PCA, which also owns Boise Paper, operates a paper mill and full-line manufacturing plant, both in Wallula.

Conlan declined to say how many boxes will be made at the Richland site annually, but said its purpose is much different than the Wallula plants on Highway 12, which primarily serve the fresh produce and processed food and beverage markets.

“People say, ‘Is it going to smell like the paper mill out in Wallula?’ No, it’s not,” Conlan said. “That’s the paper-making process, this is just a corrugated box plant. We take 7,000 to 8,000 rolls of paper and make corrugated containers.”

Conlan said the Horn Rapids site was chosen for its location and for the pool of local talent and skilled employee base.

“Richland is very strong in their economic development,” Conlan said. “I would give the city a lot of kudos for their willingness to work with us. We didn’t have a lot of time and they were very helpful. They did what they said, they moved quickly, and I really appreciated that.”

PCA is a publicly-traded company and North America’s third largest producer of containerboard products and uncoated freesheet paper. It operates eight mills and 94 corrugated products plants and related facilities.  

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