Richmond Times-Dispatch: Former Reynolds Employees Form New Company

Some former employees of Reynolds Packaging Co. in Richmond are starting a new packaging business in Ashland.

Hanover Foils LLC, which is planning a ribbon-cutting ceremony at its manufacturing plant today, is aiming to fill what its founders say is a void in the supply market left by the closing of some Reynolds Packaging operations in Richmond.

“There are a lot of opportunities, and we are excited,” said Howard Hager, president of the recently formed company. “We need to fill this niche that Reynolds left.”

The company is planning to supply packaging for consumer products including confections and pharmaceuticals as well as foil for industrial uses and insulation and solar panels. Hager said the company has found customers that already are waiting for supplies.

Production is expected to begin next year in an 80,000-square-foot plant on Hill Carter Parkway. Hager said the business could employ more than 60 people within 18 months.

“Right now, we’re just getting started,” he said, with a small staff setting up operations at the plant and moving in manufacturing equipment.

A spokesman for Hanover County said the company’s initial investment in the plant and equipment is valued at about $4 million.

Hager and a few other former Reynolds employees — most with decades of experience — have joined in the new venture. Hager said he worked for 24 years for Reynolds Metals Co., Alcoa Inc. and Reynolds Packaging, starting as a machine operator and eventually becoming a plant manager.

Aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. acquired Henrico County-based Reynolds Metals Co. in 2000. Pittsburgh-based Alcoa sold the Reynolds consumer products and flexible packaging businesses in 2008 to Rank Group Ltd., a private investment firm based in New Zealand. Rank Group re-named the businesses as Reynolds Packaging Group, but the local operations have had deep job losses.

This year, the company closed its Richmond-area aluminum-foil operations, putting nearly 500 people out of work.

Hager said he was among those who departed the company this year. “When I left I decided, there is a lot of need for the products they were making, and they were profitable products,” he said.

A silent investor also has provided significant financial backing. Hager declined to identify the investor, but said it is someone local “who saw the same thing we did — that it was a niche market that should be filled.”

John Reid Blackwell, Times-Dispatch Staff Writer
Published: December 22, 2009