Who Makes All The Things We Ignore?
SHANNON, Miss. (AP) — Adlam Films makes stuff people don't think about, even though they use it every day.
For example, the family owned company makes the clear plastic wrap that protects individual bags of microwave popcorn for brands such as Orville Redenbacher's and Act II.
Adlam also makes the laminating materials that are sold to many schools and are used by FedEx Office — formerly FedEx Kinko's.
Northeast Mississippi businesses, such as Sprint Print and Photography Unlimited, also use Adlam's laminating materials.
In addition, the company makes plastic facing for foam insulation boards, such as the Perma "R'' brand, which are used in residential construction. The insulation boards are sold at Lowe's nationally.
"It's one of those things that you don't think about but somebody does it," said Terry Goggans, Adlam's chief financial officer.
"It's good for Tupelo. It's diversification. When Bryce formed this company, we were known as the candy bar wrapper company. We still do that, but we do other things."
The Adlam plant in Shannon opened in the late 1990s under the ownership of Memphis-based Bryce Corp.
In 2006, John Bryce and his immediate family members spun off the Shannon plant and named it "Adlam."
The "A'' is for Bryce's daughter, Ashley Riney, who is the marketing director. The "d'' is for his son, Durham. The "lam" represents the company's main product line — laminating films or thermal-finishing films.
While the company is independent of Bryce Corp., Adlam maintains a relationship with Bryce, which uses space in the plant to print part of the packaging for Doritos and SunChips.
The plant has about 70 employees, including the Bryce workers.
Inside the facility, the workers have various jobs.
In one area, employees oversee a machine that prints logos on plastic film before the machine coats one side of the film with a resin. The resin, which starts off as tiny pellets that are melted, serves as the glue in laminating materials.
Goggans said once the film is printed and coated in resin, it is rolled up and a sample is taken for testing.
Lab technicians like Joe Buse run each sample through a variety of tests. He checks characteristics such as the strength of the bond between the resin and film, the thickness of the film, the color of the film and the width of the roll.
The tests take at least 10 minutes per roll, said Buse, who usually handles between 20 and 50 rolls each day.
Once the rolls pass the quality control tests, they are cut or slit to the customers' desired sizes and then packaged.
On average, Adlam sends out 2-1/2 truckloads each week of overwrap to ConAgra Foods — which owns Orville Redenbacher's and Act II — for the microwave plastic bags, Bryce said.
Riney said the company also stays busy each day handling laminating film orders.
The foam insulation board business took a hit during the downturn in the housing market, but Bryce said the company is seeing growth in the market, which is translating into more orders for Adlam.
"Even in a tough economic climate, we had a good 2009," Bryce said. "We're making money. We're a little soft on volume but we're making do with what we have."