The company recently acquired the Ellis Group
March 3, 2023 By Nithya Caleb
In early Fall 2022, Max Solutions, a differentiated specialty packaging company, acquired the Ellis Group, Canada’s largest family owned and operated folding carton company.
Founded more than 40 years ago, the Ellis Group has three manufacturing facilities in Ontario. The acquisition was a surprise as the Ellis Group was and is a thriving business with an active clientele. I interviewed Marc Shore, CEO of Max Solutions, to unpack this major industry development.
As it turns out, in January 2022, the Ellis family initiated a process to explore the opportunity to find an acquirer that made sense for their business and to take the Ellis Group to the next level. A strong cultural fit was very important to Bill Ellis, CEO of the Ellis Group, and his family. Max Solutions checked all the boxes.
“We knew how important it was to find a partner that shared our commitment to excellence, service, and to our valued employees. I am extremely proud of the company we built and have great appreciation for everyone who has contributed to its success. Max Solutions has the expertise and experience to take the Ellis Group to the next level,” said Bill Ellis in a media release sent to announce the acquisition.
“The Ellis family has built a strong legacy of innovation, state-of-the art technology, and exceptional customer support over the past 40 years. Together, we will leverage our complementary capabilities, product portfolio and end-market expertise to provide unmatched service, speed-to-market, zero-defect quality, and the highest levels of contingency planning to our customers,” explained Shore. “Historically, we’ve sought to serve our customers in a scaled, and global, way. Ellis allows us to better serve our customers in North America and expand into additional regions.”
Shore started his print and packaging career at Shorewood Packaging where he worked for over 28 years. He was named president of Shorewood in 1991 and CEO in 1995. During his tenure, Shorewood’s sales grew from USD60 million to USD700 million. Shorewood was sold to International Paper in 2000, where he continued to work as president of Shorewood and an officer of International Paper until 2004. In 2005, he founded Multi-Packaging Solutions (MPS), another specialty packaging platform, with private equity backing. He grew the company to over 70 factories in 14 countries and $2 billion in revenue. MPS went public in 2015 and was eventually acquired in 2017 by WestRock (WRK). Shore stayed at WRK until August 2020.
In November 2021, Shore founded Max Solutions along with industry veteran Dennis Kaltman, who is now the president of Max Solutions.
Kaltman has more than 20 years of experience in the print and packaging industry. He started his career with Queens Group, where he was senior vice-president from 1990 to 1998. When Queens Group was acquired by Shorewood Packaging in 1998, he was named senior vice-president. Following the acquisition of Shorewood by International Paper, Kaltman served as senior vice-president of the home entertainment packaging division. Kaltman joined Shore at MPS in May 2005, a few months after it was founded. He first served as executive vice-president and COO but was then named president in August 2007 and given responsibility for the global branded consumer market in February 2014.
Needless to say, Shore and Kaltman have extensive experience in the global specialty packaging segment, especially in the consumer and healthcare segments. At Max, they’ve made significant investments in next-generation technology. Their Bristol, P.A., facility opened in July 2022 and their Concord, N.C., facility opened in December 2022.
Both Shore and Kaltman have been operating in Canada since 1982.
In a press release, Kaltman said, “Both Marc and I have operated in Canada for many years with Multi Packaging Solutions and before that, Shorewood Packaging, dating back to 1984. We’re thrilled to be back. The Ellis family has made significant investments in technology and capabilities over the years. They’ve built a talented team with valuable skill sets and we look forward to working closely with them to continue their legacy of innovation and exceptional customer service.”
According to Shore, the Ellis Group will eventually become Max Solutions Canada.
“We recognize – and appreciate – the equity Ellis has with customers and within the industry. So we’ll work to make the transition as seamless and thoughtful as possible and limit confusion for the customer,” said Shore.
For now though, all the three Ellis locations are operating normally as they were pre-acquisition. Shore and Kaltman have made some organizational changes, “which embrace a lot of the senior leadership within Ellis.”
“Max Solutions will continue to invest in the Toronto facilities to enhance manufacturing, planning, and scheduling capabilities to better serve and communicate with our customers. Additionally, we will leverage our supply chain relationships to ensure raw materials are always available,” added Shore.
From a facility footprint and capability standpoint, the acquisition has expanded Max’s ability to serve the market and the breadth of its customer base. The company will also enjoy greater scale with respect to working with suppliers.
An edited version of this article originally appeared in the January/February 2023 issue of PrintAction.
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