Merging heritages

Merging heritages

Headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, WestRock is a renowned packaging company specializing in consumer and corrugated packaging solutions.

The company, which supplies everything from pizza boxes and beverage packs to paperboard for packaging and shipping containers, has earned a reputation for delivering products and services with uncompromising quality and reliability, becoming a leading global partner in the process.


WestRock was conceived in January 2015 when historic packaging companies MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) and Rock-Tenn Company agreed to merge, marrying the two companies to form a $16-billion packaging powerhouse.   The merger was finalized in July 2015.

“RockTenn and MWV have a heritage in paper board and the creation of WestRock represents a historic milestone in our industry,” said Ariel Winton, Supply Chain Manager for WestRock Australia and New Zealand.

For WestRock, the merger represents two highly complementary organizations – both of which have been operating in some form for longer than a century – coming together to create a company with leadership positions in the global consumer and corrugated packaging markets.

According to Winton, the newly formed company still maintains its Australian and New Zealand identities. “We’re local to Australia and New Zealand, so understanding our customers’ unique requirements in this part of the world is central to our value proposition,” said Winton.

What They Do Best

 WestRock has become the industry leader in the design and manufacture of high-speed, flexible packaging equipment. The company designs and manufactures customisable, fully automatic equipment for food and beverage secondary packs, backed by around the clock engineering support.

“We manage the logistics, the installation and the engineering around these machines in order to make it as easy as possible for the customer,” said Winton. “This allows us to have a level of control that ensures quality, reliability and the machine’s performance.”

As a vertically integrated business, WestRock also designs and supplies the packs that run through the equipment, and hold over 2,000 packaging patents. According to Winton, “This is the result of a vast body of knowledge which translates to world-class efficiencies for our customers.”

The company has 275 operating and business locations. Winton said the company leverages its global networks to ensure best practice and leading innovation is shared locally.

“Not many businesses cover the full range of products and services we handle,” added Winton.               

The newly formed WestRock has already earned some prestigious awards. In October 2015, WestRock won the Lion New Zealand, Acting With Integrity Award, for exceptional performance on key metrics and dedication to continuous improvement. WestRock was also the recipient of the 2015 Value Excellence Supplier Award from SC Johnson, winning the award for its focus on operational continuous improvements.

Environmental responsibility

At WestRock, the company maintains its stewardship of the natural resources it uses and strives to be a good corporate citizen. The company has outlined specific paths to ensure the health of forests through its Sustainable Forestry Practices, Sustainable Forestry Certifications, and its Landowner Outreach and Research programs.

“From a corporate level, we have a wide array of sustainability goals,” said Winton. “And we continue to work hard to achieve them.”

With 23 recycling facilities, the company is one of the largest recyclers in the world — recovering, processing and selling approximately seven million tons of recycled products annually as well as providing comprehensive recycling and waste solutions.

The company is also leading the way in utilizing integrated programs to assist customers in managing waste streams, extracting as much recyclable material as possible, increasing revenue generated from recyclable materials and supporting customers’ sustainability program. The company works with its suppliers to understand their sustainability needs and help them achieve them.

Customers, Innovation and Operational Excellence

WestRock is more than just a paper supplier — it’s a solutions provider, and the company is steadfast in its commitment to customers, innovation and operational excellence.

“We have a two-prong approach to our business. The first is obviously our packaging products, but the second is supplying the packaging line and machinery to the customer,” said Winton.

The company has assembled a world-class packaging team — employing 42,000 people in 30 countries worldwide — to supply and service the unique needs of local and global customers, ensuring quality, reliability and great service along the way.

“Everyone here, not just the customer service department, is focused on the customers,” explained Winton. “We all understand it and we strive to continuously improve.”

Collaboration is another important aspect to the company. According to Winton, cross-functional collaboration plays a critical role in helping WestRock meet the needs of their customers, therefore delivering on what they promise.

“The collaboration I see within our team here at WestRock, and with our supply partners adds so much more value than a typical transactional relationship,” said Winton. “Our key suppliers are an extension of our business and we maintain long standing relationships with them.”

In terms of innovation, WestRock strives to understand the consumer and aims to turn collaboration and consumer insight into distinctive designs for their customers. The company continues to work closely with customers to deliver low-cost, high-value packaging and marketing solutions to a wide range of markets.

“In our industry, personalization has garnered a lot of growing interest and it’s something we’re actively looking at,” said Winton. “It’s something that hasn’t been attempted in our sector but as innovators, it’s something we’re looking to achieve. It’s really an example of ideas driving execution.”

Steve Voorhees