There is a Chatham-Kent secret that few know and yet reaches millions of people around the world every day, and that secret comes in the form of a code. This code, which may be found on the bottom of several canned products in local grocery stores, is a star-like pattern made up of five notches called an interrupted bead. These five notches signify that the can was made in Chatham-Kent.
The company that makes the cans and produces this specific code is Sonoco, a leading supplier of global packaging solutions. The Sonoco head office, which is based in the United States, has recently celebrated their 120th anniversary and the Chatham plant itself is 72 years old.
“We are proud of the fact that our Chatham plant is the only food grade consumer goods division of Sonoco in Canada and that we have a special can code that helps people understand what we make here,” said John Shaw, Plant Manager at Sonoco. “The plant has a long history in Chatham and has changed hands several times over the years, but one thing that has stayed the same is our dedication to our employees, customers, being a good corporate citizen.”
Along with producing cans for a wide variety of products such as peanuts, coffee, drink mix, alcohol, private labels, specialized packaging, and a host of famous brands, Sonoco is also the exclusive North American producer of Minute Maid concentrated juice cans.
“We make nearly 100 million cans for Minute Maid concentrated juice in several formats and sizes,” said Shaw. “Over the years we have worked to innovate the packaging so that it’s easier to open, easier to recycle, and always meets their exact needs.”
When asked about how Sonoco has been able to adapt to shifting market demands over generations, Shaw said, “There is no secret to our success, it’s simply a matter of ensuring our employees are looked after and guaranteed a safe work environment, that we make a quality product they can be proud of, and give everyone the opportunity to be a part of the team. That recipe keeps our doors open and us in business.”
When asked for more details about their ongoing success, Shaw also spoke about the need to be constantly innovating, looking at product diversity, and exploring new markets.
“There are important advances that we take for granted these days such as the one-way de-gas valve on a tin of coffee. Sonoco patented that and it changed how coffee can be stored and shipped,” said Shaw. “We have our standard lines that have been in production for quite a long time, but our resiliency is connected to how we are always looking to find new ways to apply our products to new customer segments.”
It is this resiliency and dedication to staff that have produced a heritage of lifetime employees. Sonoco’s Chatham location has created a family environment where employees are retiring after 40 plus years with the company.
“They recently celebrated 9 years of an injury-free workplace, which is a significant milestone when you look at a manufacturing facility that is running year-round,” said Anthony Wilson, Economic Development Officer with Chatham-Kent Economic Development. “It’s no wonder employee turn-over is low considering that they offer quality pay, benefits, pension, and training. I’ve had a chance to see the production area and chat with employees who tell me that once they become part of the team, they don’t want to leave.”
“We are in a hiring mode right now with positions open that include millwrights and an operator,” said Shaw. “If someone came in with a passion to work, to be part of the team, and some basic mechanical skills, they would be an ideal candidate.”
For more information about Sonoco, visit their website at www.sonoco.com. If you are interested in applying for a position, drop off a resume to the Chatham location at 674 Richmond Street West, Chatham.
The five interrupted beads on the bottom of the can form a star-like pattern that make it easy to identify this as a can made in Chatham-Kent.
- Founded in 1899, Sonoco Products Company is a United States-based international provider of diversified consumer packaging, industrial products, protective packaging, and packaging supply chain services, and the world's largest producer of composite cans, tubes, and cores. https://www.sonoco.com/
- Learn more about Chatham-Kent Economic Development on our website: www.investck.ca
Marketing and Communications Officer, Economic Development Services
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
Phone: 519-352-8401 x2039