A COLOR FUL
Rick Van Horne III is named to
the Association of Independent
Packaging Hall of Fame.
Rick Van Horne III recalls an instance in his career that baffled him. When visiting a new recycled paper mill he observed strips of paper posted to a wall. He asked what they were for
and the mill officials told him, “When our roll comes off,
we want to make sure we can’t find ourselves up there.”
They were aiming for conformity.
“Why would you want to make sure that when you put
your product up on the wall, you couldn’t even find it?” Van
Horne III asks. “Why wouldn’t you just produce your prod-
uct, go to the marketing department with it, and then take it
to your customers and say ‘Here is a new recycled product?’”
That mindset is difficult to understand for someone
who’s spent his career trying to decommoditize his part of
the industry. The product Van Horne III strived to differ-
entiate for nearly 40 years was corrugated sheets.
“Change is something that’s hard to do in this business,”
says the former president of Corrugated Supplies Co. (CSC),
Bedford Park, Ill. Though change is difficult, he has achieved
it during his career, and that’s part of the reason he was
inducted into the Association of Independent Corrugated
Converters (AICC)/Paperboard Packaging Hall of Fame.
Van Horne III is honored for his creativity and business
acumen, his dedication to the independent sector of the cor-
rugated industry, and his contributions to the community.
Entering the Industry
Van Horne III joined the corrugated industry in 1965 when he
began working at CSC for his father, Richard Van Horne Jr.
Van Horne Jr., who was posthumously inducted into
the Hall of Fame in 1984, is credited with pioneering the
sheet feeder concept. He founded CSC in 1964, after leaving
Van Horne III had graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in hotel and restaurant management,
but he realized that his career prospects were grim because
he didn’t like to cook and he ranked behind the owners’ two
sons at the restaurant where he worked in high school.
“One day my mother woke me up at noon and said I had
a job on the night shift,” Van Horne III says. He started as a
He was drafted by the U.S. Army in 1966 and went to
Korea for 18 months. When he returned in 1968 he returned
to CSC and began working in the office doing “anything that
needed to be done,” including scheduling the 66-inch corrugator (with a pencil and paper, he adds).
Van Horne III took over as president when his father
retired in the late 1970s. He broke ground by pushing back
against the commodity mindset, pioneering colored corrugated sheets with CSC’s Vancraft brand, and marketing his
products in a unique way.
“Rick was an innovator and a creator of new ideas, and
that's what our industry needs,” says Jack Schwarz, a former
partner with CSC in CeCorr (sold to Georgia-Pacific in 1998),
a group of 14 sheet feeders, two coating operations, and a
small mill. “The big integrated companies just like to run
brown boxes for the national accounts. He was out there trying
to help the independents find some markets they could participate in – more on the creative side than the commodity side.”
Color is King
One way Van Horne III accomplished this was to add value
to the corrugated sheet through color, says Jim Ryan, a
nearly 40-year veteran of CSC, now vice president of sales.
As a result, Van Horne III’s name has become synonymous
with “color.” You can’t ask someone about him without hear-
ing about “the colors of Vancraft,” the brand of colored sheets
CSC launched two decades ago.
He got the idea to produce colored sheets during a trip
to Australia to see Richard Pratt’s operations.
While touring a mill where Visy Industries made paper
for file folders, he saw the product being dyed green, and it
got him thinking about selling his customers colored sheets to
offer them more value.
“Most of them only had one-color presses,” he says. “If I
could give them colored board, they could put black on it and