Construction is nearing completion on Kruger Inc.’s first U.S.-based corrugated box manufacturing facility in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

The project scope includes a 420,000 square foot box plant with an 18,000 square foot mezzanine and a two-story, 24,000 square foot office appendage. The plant will run a corrugator machine, four converting/finish machines, and a vertical WIP racking system. A half-mile rail spur will serve the facility.

Based in Montreal, Canada, Kruger Inc. operates a diverse portfolio of businesses, including sectors in the containerboard, packaging, and paper recycling industries. The company selected Miller Valentine as its design-build partner based on our experience with corrugated box plants and with assisting international companies navigate U.S. construction processes and regulations.

“We have been their trusted guide throughout the process, from design and permitting through construction,” said Matt Allen, Project Manager. “We worked through a lot of complicated layouts and structural engineering plans to develop a facility that will support their operational needs.”

Fast track from the start

Delays and disruption have unfortunately become a common reality of construction projects during the pandemic. Kruger Inc. needed a construction partner that could work through these challenges quickly and efficiently to complete their project within an extremely aggressive schedule. Our proven ability to deliver was a deciding factor for the company.

Our team fast-tracked the project from the start, breaking ground in July 2021 before design was completed. Based on lessons learned from past projects, the team took steps to mitigate expected supply chain delays. For example, the lead time for roofing systems has stretched from weeks to numerous months. Anticipating that this would be an issue, the project team coordinated early on with the roofing system supplier to expedite material delivery.

“It has been a very fast-moving project from the get-go,” said Matt. “We’ve been in constant communication with our suppliers, vendors, and subcontractors. It’s been across the board, every trade and every scope, to make sure everyone has what they need to meet their project milestones.”

The coordination has paid off. Despite 40 lost days due to weather, the project has remained on schedule. The box plant will be completed in late spring, and substantial completion is on track for late summer.

A local investment and job generator

The project represents a $114 million investment for Kruger Inc. in Elizabethtown, which is located about an hour south of Louisville. This location will put the company within a day’s drive of approximately 60% of the U.S. population. The plant will employ about 150 people at full capacity and is expected to produce 1.4 billion square feet of recycled corrugated boxes every year.

The project’s scope and the jobs it will create have generated favorable local media coverage, heightening the necessity of on-time completion.

“Kruger Inc. is depending on us to build certainty in an uncertain market, and we are delivering on all fronts to ensure their business needs are met as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible,” said Hank Betts, Vice President of Business Development. “This is going to be a great project for Kruger Inc., and a significant investment in the local community. We’re proud that Kruger placed their trust in us, and we take tremendous pride in delivering on our commitments.”