Liberty Paper, a company already renowned for robust internal controls and institutional discipline, sees value in improving the management-intensive standards of ISO 9001:2015.
“We already operate our system very similar to that,” says John Martin, the quality environmental health and safety manager at the company. Liberty already operates under individually-managed process areas, he says, so each process area manages its way through the overall management system. Risk analysis is also deeply embedded in the company’s culture.
“So, [ISO 2015] is not a real far reach for us,” he says. “It’s a way to make sure that all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted as we put our system up to those new requirements.”
Liberty Paper’s 151 employees operate three daily shifts, 365 days per year, in their mammoth 240,000 square foot facility in Becker. The plant actually houses two different paper operations: One manufactures brown paper; the other applies coatings and solutions to the paper for different uses.
The operation is a fully recycled facility. More than 400 suppliers from across the Midwest deliver 900 tons of old corrugated cardboard (OCC) bales to the plant daily, in bales ranging from 800 to 2,000 pounds. Suppliers range from a local grocery store to Walmart.
The company’s commitment to excellence can be seen in the fact that machines run continuously, 24/7, 365 days per year. The only reason we ever shut down our machine is for scheduled maintenance,” Martin says. The way we design our reliability and functionality into our equipment, we hopefully will never break down. We run no parts to failure, so we have a process on how and when we are changing out everything on certain hours and times.”
Jack Fiterman founded Liberty Diversified, the parent company, 98 years ago for the purpose of rebuilding and reselling crates and bundles; this activity continues today at Liberty Carton, a box-packaging affiliate of Liberty Paper. The current CEO transformed the Becker plant into a paper mill with a machine called the Dream Catcher. Today it is a privately held, family-owned company.
Presentation Packaging was founded to cater to the needs of the decorative packaging market and Protecta-Pack Systems was founded to serve the needs of the transport packaging market. Jack Fiterman’s son Ben was named CEO in 1966, shortly after the company moved its production into a new facility in Golden Valley, MN. That same year the Fiterman family founded Safco Products, offering wholesale distribution of office products to local and international businesses. In 1970 Mike Fiterman joined the family company and in 1972, Liberty Diversified Industries was created to handle the marketing, legal, human resources, accounting, information services, and transportation services for its manufacturing and marketing operations. LDI experienced rapid growth with Valley Craft joining the LDI family in 1979 and Diversi-Plast in 1983. During this period Mike Fiterman, grandson of Jack Fiterman, was formally named President and CEO of LDI.
During the 1990s, LDI continued its growth with the founding of Liberty Fibres, Liberty Paper, Dreamworks Coating Solutions, and the addition of Milltronics CNC Machines. Most recently, LDI welcomed San Diego-based Harbor Packaging into its family of companies in September 2014. Across its diverse companies, LDI consistently aims to maximize the potential of its people to create value and opportunity.
“We’re paper makers; that’s what we do,” Martin says.
“There’s a lot of passion up here,” he adds, “A lot of people really enjoy what we do. We focus on a lot on process and product, but, at the same time, we somehow find a way to have fun along the way.