Solo acquired by Dart Container

CONYERS -- Solo Cup Company and Dart Container Corp. announced Wednesday they had signed an agreement under which Dart will acquire Solo in a transaction valued at approximately $1 billion.

Both companies manufacture consumer and food service disposable packaging. Dart is a family-owned and operated business with 7,600 employees and 20 production facilities worldwide. Dart is headquartered in Mason, Mich. Solo is a $1.6 billion company that manufactures a wide array of single-use products under the Solo, Sweetheart, Creative Carryouts and Bare by Solo names. Solo is headquartered in Lake Forest, Ill.

Locally, Solo manufactures cold cups, plates, straws and cutlery. Solo employs about 400 people in Conyers at its Ga. Highway 138 plant. In addition to the Conyers plant, Solo employs about 35 people at its distribution facility in Social Circle.

According to Mark Baxter, external communications director for Solo, the number and location of facilities that will result from the acquisition is among many issues yet to be decided.

"No immediate changes are expected in the short term," Baxter said. "Until the transaction closes, Solo will continue to operate on a business-as-usual basis."

The transaction is expected to be completed by the third quarter of this year.

Angie Chaplin Gorman, director of communications for Solo, said the process of integrating employees from the two companies will begin soon.

"It's really premature for us to speculate on what the impact will be on Solo jobs and where that might happen," she said.

Gorman said Dart places emphasis on optimizing the talents and skills of employees.

"Successfully integrating as many Solo employees as possible is a high priority," she said.

Like Baxter, Gorman said no immediate changes are expected.

"We don't expect any dramatic changes for the six to 12 months after the deal closes," she said."

Glenn Sears, executive director of the Conyers-Rockdale Economic Development Council, said he has been in touch with local management at Solo to let them know that the city of Conyers, Rockdale County, the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council have joined forces to work to keep Solo in the community.

"We let them know that we will do whatever we need to do retain Dart Container in our community as we did when Solo bought Sweetheart," Sears said.

"We are going to let the management team be the point people and do what we can as a united community," he added.

Sears praised the local Solo management citing its Work-Ready certification and improved efficiencies.

"They are one of our manufacturing treasures," Sears said of the Conyers Solo facility, "not only for tax base and workforce, but also for the people they are -- the community involvement. They are probably the bell cows of the state on the Georgia Work-Ready program."

The joint forces of the Solo and Dart will provide greater choice and quality for consumers, according to Dart Container CEO Robert C. Dart.

"Our acquisition of Solo will allow us to provide even greater value to our customers in the future," Dart said in a press release Wednesday. "It will enable customers to purchase a wider range of products, made from a greater variety of materials with varying functional and environmental attributes -- all from a single vendor. Both companies have an extensive history in the industry and will bring together valuable experience, traditions and complementary, high-quality products."

Solo CEO Robert M. Korzenski said Dart is the acquisition is the right direction for the future of Solo.

"Solo has made great strides over the past several years in improving its operating efficiency, information systems and the caliber of the talent within the organization," Korzenski said in a press release. "Dart's leadership team has shown a high level of respect for what Solo has accomplished and I believe we are putting the company in the right hands to succeed and grow going forward."

Solo is majority owned by the family of its founder, Leo J. Hulseman. Dart Container is a privately owned company founded by William A. Dart. The integrated organization will be a private company known as Dart Container Corp. Dart expects to continue offering products under the Solo brand, including the iconic red Solo cup.

Solo celebrated its 75th anniversary in September. The company began in 1936 as the Paper Container Manufacturing Company in Chicago. In the 1940s the company began manufacturing a paper cone cup known as the Solo Cup, for which the company was renamed.

The Conyers Solo plant opened in 1967 as part of the Sweetheart Cup Company. It was purchased by Solo in 2004.