have two colors. The trick would be to do it and not add cost.”
Upon his return to the U.S. he began working with Cascades
to dye the board at the mill level.
“We brought it to the factory and told our people, the one
thing we have to do is make sure it ships right away,” Van
Horne III says. “They have to get their color order just as fast
as their brown order. And slowly it started to work, although
at first there were a lot of problems.”
The Vancraft line went through several iterations before
becoming successful, Ryan says.
“The concept was correct, but the way we were applying the
color at the mill level in the form of a dye didn’t hold up at first,”
he recalls. “We had a couple rebirths of this thing.” CSC eventually developed a system for flexo printing the liner. Today, the
company does a lot of work with major display houses.
“From a business perspective, that was a great way to
go to [big automotive] customers that used those kinds of
color-coded liners to sort their parts,” says AICC Presi-
dent Steve Young. “He really had a lot of imagination as
to what corrugated could become.”
As imaginative as the colored sheets themselves is the
way Van Horne III marketed them.
He pulled stunts like flying an airplane with a banner touting
“the colors of Vancraft” over baseball stadiums, he infused color
into the CSC plant with art like one of Chicago’s famous Cows
on Parade, and he even came up with a parrot mascot called
Vinny Vancraft to promote colored sheets.
“At one point, he had a small, older Mercedes Benz he’d
painted yellow with parrots on the side and ‘Vancraft’ written
across the front as an advertisement,” Ryan says. “He’d drive it
back and forth to work. I remember thinking, ‘God, I hope he
never asks me to ride in that car with him.’ But I think it’s an
indication of his character and zest for the company.
Van Horne III, who retired a decade ago but still retains
some ownership in CSC, worked unceasingly to make the
industry better, Young says. He served AICC as a region
six vice president, as a member of the board as a director as
large, and as an active and outspoken member of the con-
tainerboard committee. He was an early, vocal advocate of
the changeover from the Mullen test to the edge crush test,
and a proponent of eschewing “the commodity mindset
that the mills are just going to give us two basis weights
of paper,” Young says. “He always said, ‘We’ve got to do
a better job as an industry to serve the customers.’”
Van Horne III says the fact that the industry is more con-
solidated now in terms of board suppliers shouldn’t bring about
fear; it should bring about opportunity.
“The industry should be yelling at its suppliers to bring
new fibers,” he says, pointing to the successful adoption of
lightweight board in Europe.
John Carman Sr. says that Van Horne III’s efforts helped
boost the business of independent sheet plants like his.
“When I started out with damn near nothing 35 years ago
and began to build up the company, [CSC] helped me,” says
the former president of StandFast Packaging, Addison, Ill.
“Corrugated Supplies did a great job with their product, service and price, and we still buy a lot of our product from them.
We’ve being doing business with them for 35 years, so that
should tell you a lot.”
In His Own Words
>> To be on the same list [for the Hall of Fame] with the people who came
before me is very humbling. A lot of people on that list contributed more or are
a lot smarter than I am. And the fact that my father is on that list is unbeliev-
able. If he were still around, I’m sure he’d be very proud that I made it ,too.
>> I don’t think I’m an inventor. I’m a borrower. I hear someone say
something and I can somehow take it to another level.
>> Up until the great paper shortage in the 1970s, a lot of the sheet plants
in Chicago didn’t understand what we were doing [with the sheet feeder
concept]. When the shortage came sheet plants were calling from South
Dakota because they were desperate for sheets. When the crisis was over,
that was the turning point. People finally understood what we were trying
to accomplish, and that let us take our 66-inch machine up to 87 inches.
>> The slitter-scorer changed the whole sheet feeder concept. Carl
Marschke of Marquip, who sold me a slitter-scorer, was a brilliant engi-
neer. The whole concept of getting it to run efficiently and the support that
company gave to us was unbelievable. There were people from his payroll
in my plant for over a year. I remember he and I used to go at it over the
phone. Back then I had a plant full of people who didn’t know anything
Van Horne pioneered the concept of colored corrugated sheets to offer more value to his customers.
Photo courtesy of Corrugated Supplies Co.
about computers and we brought computers into what was a low-tech
industry. And they made the thing work. That really is what let the sheet-
feeding business get going because we could now provide a service our
competitors couldn’t do. They couldn’t run 100 lots or 50 lots.
>> The industry is still trying to figure out how to promote itself. It’s still locked
in the closet. The country is screaming for knowledge. There is nobody really
telling them how many jobs we create and what an important part of the
economy we are. It takes more than a Fly-In. You have to Google+ it, Twitter it,
You Tube it, Facebook it. You can be aggressive and it doesn’t cost any more.