The 2017 Manufacturing Awards: Manufacturing Executive of the Year

Kent Wall: President and CEO, Portco Packaging, Woodland
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GOLD AWARD
Kent Wall, President and CEO, Portco Packaging, Woodland

The only thing people ask of product packaging is that it organize, protect and market what’s inside, doing so as efficiently as possible. Three generations of the Wall family have built a successful packaging business that continues to grow and innovate. With production plants in Woodland and Toppenish and 105 employees, Portco makes bags, pouches, trays, lids and roll stock in a multitude of configurations, primarily for the food industry and such customers as Bob’s Red Mill and C&H Sugar. Portco’s revenues are already more than $30 million, and the company forecasts 8 to 10 percent compound annual growth during the next three years. To back that growth, Portco invested $12 million in a three-year project to expand both its plants, leading to the addition of 23 jobs. The company is also pouring resources into waste-reduction technology, food-safety programs and machinery to produce packaging at a lower cost-of-entry point for new food items. Kent Wall, who has been president/CEO for two and a half years, says Portco has survived in an industry in which consolidation is the norm by being nimble enough to recognize new opportunities and to shed operations that aren’t as promising. “You have to keep yourself out of the commodity business,” he says. That philosophy is one reason why Portco went after top-level food safety certification. “We were selling to customers who were selling a premium product,” Wall explains. He adds that growth comes from having good people helping good customers “so they win in the marketplace.”

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