BROWNSVILLE — The secret is out of the bag for Duro.
The company, a tenant of the Port of Brownsville since 1967, is a premier leader in the paper bag industry with approximately 2.5 billion paper bags manufactured annually for the grocery, retail, convenience and food markets.
“We are a small jewel at the Port of Brownsville,” said Frank Fernandez, plant manager at Duro Bag. “Our mission is to be the preeminent manufacturer of paper bags offering quality, innovative solutions and complete satisfaction to our customer base,” he added.
Duro Bag has a rich history of both manufacturing process creativity and product innovation with several current and pending patents in addition to more than 20 industry trademarks.
Since 2014, the company has been part of the Novolex family, a leading producer of plastic, paper and film products headquartered in Hartsville, South Carolina, with nearly 10,000 employees and 62 manufacturing facilities across North America and Europe.
Duro Bag is the only manufacturing facility at the Port of Brownsville that is non-maritime related.
Despite not using docks and the ship channel, the port’s other infrastructure, namely rail, has served Duro well. This strategic location has helped the company become an important driver of Brownsville’s manufacturing industry contributing about $2.9 million annually in wages and taxes to the local economy.
The company employs 106 people locally, produces approximately eight million paper bags a day, and deploys about 12-15 trucks with its product to customers in Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and other parts of Southwestern U.S. Some of Duro’s customers from the food industry include Chick-fil-A, Dairy Queen, Wendy’s, Whataburger and Wingstop restaurants.
Being an environmentally friendly corporation is top priority for the Novolex family.
For more than 50 years, Duro Bag has focused on reducing and reusing waste at its manufacturing operations by recycling 100 percent of the kraft and bleached paper waste from the production process. According to Fernandez most of the paper bags produced by the plant are made of 100 percent recycled paper. The plant receives on average about 25 trucks of recycled paper a week from the U.S. and Mexico and one railcar every other week.
Demand for paper bags is pushing the company to expand its production capabilities. In the past three years the company has spent $1.1 million in capital investments with approximately half a million more this year at the Brownsville plant, bringing equipment and making other infrastructure upgrades to its 205,000 sq. ft. facility. The company currently leases 13.84 acres of land near the port’s turning basin.
And they are expanding their workforce too. Duro Bag is currently looking to hire more employees to work on the production lines to increase production and keep up with demand. Fernandez hopes in time to bring productivity up to the plant’s total capacity of 12 million bags a day.
“Our biggest success is that we’ve managed to invest money in the plant and at the same time remain profitable by making sure we get our efficiencies right and treat our people right,” Fernandez said. “This helps us have the ability to provide more and more jobs,” he said, which shows the company’s continued loyalty and commitment to the Rio Grande Valley.