MeadWestvaco Corporation (NYSE: MWV), a global leader in packaging and packaging solutions, today announced the official opening of its state-of-the art pilot plant located in Eastern Henrico County. A key component of MWV’s Center for Packaging Innovation (CPI), the pilot plant is a 48,000 square foot packaging materials and technologies research and development facility. To help kick off the opening, MWV hosted Virginia State Senator Donald McEachin for a tour of the facility. McEachin was given an inside look at the plant’s operations and capabilities. Joining McEachin were members of MWV’s global innovation team and Virginia Manufacturers Association (VMA) President and CEO Brett A. Vassey.
In 2010 MWV decided to move its Center for Packaging Innovation and the pilot plant, from Raleigh, N.C. to the company’s global headquarters in Richmond, Va. Since that time the company has been hard at work relocating and hiring CPI and pilot plant employees, selecting the site for the pilot plant, engineering, building out, and equipping the facilities. MWV has invested more than $13 million in infrastructure and equipment to establish the pilot plant in Eastern Henrico County. Today the pilot plant is fully operational.
Bringing the Center for Packaging Innovation and the pilot plant to Richmond has created 114 new jobs over two years (108 housed in CPI facilities at MWV’s corporate headquarters downtown, 6 at the pilot plant); These high-value jobs, paying approximately $13 million in annual wages and employee incentives, supplement another 736 employees also located at corporate headquarters. In total, MWV employs 850 in Greater Richmond with annual wages and benefits of more than $117 million.
“MWV’s decision to bring its pilot plant to the Ninth Senate District in Henrico County is more proof that we have the talent and infrastructure to support innovative projects like these; we can be a hub for innovation,” said Senator McEachin. “I am proud that MWV calls Richmond home, pleased to welcome its new pilot plant to Eastern Henrico County, and we look forward to watching the operation succeed for many years to come.”
MWV and its Center for Packaging Innovation use unique consumer insight and deep market knowledge to identify unmet packaging needs. With size and capabilities nearing commercial scale the facility enables MWV to tackle bolder innovation projects by helping to minimize development risk. The pilot plant plays a key role in the company’s development of new products and/or technologies to address these needs, helping global brand owners achieve true speed to market with their products in geographies around the world.
“The choice to move our Center for Packaging Innovation and the pilot plant to the Richmond area was an easy one,” said MWV Vice President of Global Innovation Alex Cedeño. “Our experience locating our global headquarters and our more than 700 corporate employees here a few years prior was so positive, we knew we needed to bring the CPI and pilot plant along to allow for even better collaboration and synergies. Siting the pilot plant in Eastern Henrico County gave us the kind of space we needed to test at close to commercial scale, while also giving our researchers, engineers, scientists and designers easy workflow and convenient access to interact and travel between the pilot plant and the headquarters building downtown.”
The pilot plant is located in Henrico County near the Richmond International Airport. Its close proximity to additional science and design labs and other CPI experts housed within MWV’s headquarters building downtown enables the plant and its employees to better collaborate with colleagues, customers and suppliers in support of the company’s work to develop innovative packaging materials and solutions for the global consumer packaged goods industry.
“Manufacturing is vital to the Commonwealth’s economy,” said VMA President and CEO Brett A. Vassey. “Employing more than 1,500 in the Alleghany Highlands, MWV has long been a key contributor to Virginia’s manufacturing sector. But good manufacturing doesn’t happen without good R&D. Although much smaller in scale than MWV’s mill in Covington, Va., this state-of-the-art R&D pilot plant facility truly differentiates MWV in the market and is something we can all be proud of.”
The MWV pilot plant consists of 48,000 square feet, 32 foot ceilings, 10 loading bay doors and 5 labs (Materials and Metallurgy Engineering, TAPPI Conditioned Materials Testing, Polymers and Packaging, Paper Science, and Coating). Its capabilities include: wood fiber development, polymer compounding and characterization, metallurgy and corrosion analysis, coatings and materials testing, form/fill/seal machines, die-cutting, plastic and paperboard thermoformers, distribution and supply chain testing, cup forming and converting, equipment prototyping, injection molding, paperboard slitting, winding and calendaring, coating, and multi-layer polymer extrusion and lamination.
MeadWestvaco Corporation (NYSE: MWV), provides packaging solutions to many of the world’s most-admired brands in the healthcare, beauty and personal care, food, beverage, home and garden, and tobacco industries. The company's businesses also include Consumer & Office Products, Specialty Chemicals, and the Community Development and Land Management Group, which sustainably manages the company’s land holdings to support its operations, and to provide for conservation, recreation and development opportunities. With 17,000 employees worldwide, MWV operates in 30 countries and serves customers in more than 100 nations. MWV manages all of its forestlands in accordance with internationally recognized forest certification standards, and has been named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for eight consecutive years. For more information, please visit www.mwv.com.