Customers love gifts and give-aways…especially ones that provide value to them. This usually involves giving away one of your products for free or a sampling of valuable information, creating a real “win-win” for you and your customers. But, what if you could make it a “win-win-win”? Two companies, both part of the larger New Indy Containerboard umbrella, accomplished this over the holidays by involving suppliers, “sister” companies and customers. 

At Carolina Container, the marketing team started a 4-month long process of designing a customer holiday gift box with brainstorming how to showcase what they do best: provide structural support to products. So, what better products than those of the companies they sell to and buy from? In addition, if they kept a simple, minimalistic design, it could be re-used far past the holiday season. The result was a mottle white kraft box filled with customers’ products, a letter including brand logos/info, and topped with a removable, red crepe paper bow

  • Ivex’s Angie Spann w/ gift box & red bow.
  • Carolina Container’s gift box contents

“Not only do people enjoy that unboxing experience you get with a sleek, minimal design, but it also showcases all the turnkey opportunities we have at the company. We involved teams of people around creative layout, structural design, digital printing, contract packaging and even the plain brown kraft box built around it for shipping,” says Michael Haselden at Carolina Container.

Carolina Container’s sister company, Ivex Specialty Paper, provided that heavyweight red crepe (116 gsm) used to make the holiday bow topping it all off. Meanwhile, the 107-year old paper mill was assembling a similar holiday gift that not only showcased capabilities, but also offered surprising positioning in unfamiliar markets like fine paper and bags.  

In 2017, Ivex’s innovative mill sent gift tags made of heavyweight, white crepe with foil-stamped holiday designs and sayings. Converters and printers, who would normally be customers of the mill, instead were showcased in the gift. In 2018, Ivex once again teamed up with a converter: this time to create heavyweight, crepe “wine” bags. Two 6.5”x19” pinch-sealed bags with “Merry-And-Bright” and “Happy New Year” themes were created from heavyweight (116 gsm) crepe paper. The green bag featured gold flexo printing, while the black bag showcased silver ink. Besides obvious design and branding value, the bags also provide a high level of cushioning to the wine, champagne and other holiday beverages they carry.

“It’s all about providing value to customers and our team has done it for over a century. There aren’t a lot of options for bags in colors other than brown/natural UNTIL NOW and you definitely won’t find our crepe texture anywhere else. It’s a gorgeous bag meant for discerning customers looking for something in between the basic brown bag and more expensive, elaborate packaging. And it’s sustainable to boot,” according to Bill Platt, General Manager at Ivex.

As you decide on your give-aways and this year’s holiday gifts, remember the relationships you have with your customers, suppliers and corporate “sister”/“cousin” companies. Think about what value everyone brings to the table and how you can help support one another. Take it from Carolina Container and Ivex Specialty Paper; showcasing each other’s work is never a bad place to start. 

About Carolina Container 

Carolina Container was founded in 1928 and has earned a reputation as a customer-focused manufacturer of quality corrugated products for the past 90 years. Carolina Container has a strong tradition as a leader in the corrugated industry after starting out as a corrugated box company that made shipping containers for the furniture and textile industry. Today, Carolina Container leads the industry in operational excellence with 10 plants and more than 700 dedicated employees in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. For more information, visit

About Ivex Specialty Paper

Ivex Specialty Paper has manufactured heavyweight, machine crepe and specialty kraft papers in a variety of colors and coatings for over 100 years. The mill has been using 100% recycled paper as its main fiber source from the beginning, offering a truly sustainable option for customers in any industry. Ivex’s paper machine has a small footprint, allowing for low volume runs, custom orders and room for innovation. Ivex was first used in tape for bag closure and carpet seaming. Now, products are sold to a variety of industries for use in industrial, commercial and retail applications.  For more information, visit

Brian Ayers - Shift Supervisor

9 years in the paper industry

Brian began working at Ivex Specialty Paper in May of 2014. He is skilled at just about every job on the floor from extra hand to boiler relief operator. In his current role at Ivex, he works diligently to maintain and ensure good paper is produced for our customers. Safety is also a huge priority for Brian. He helps and guides his team to always stay safe while producing a quality product. Brian says he’s excited to continue growing and learning as he overcomes new daily challenges. He sees his Ivex team as family and strives to be the best he can for them and the company.


Contact Brian via phone at (309)-686-3830 x7124

Adam Brancato – Technical Manager

 •  B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute 

•  Ph.D. in Paper Science, Georgia Institute of Technology


Adam began working at Ivex Specialty Paper in September of 2022. His previous experience includes various production and technical roles at ND Paper, including Senior Production Engineer. In his current role at Ivex, he focuses on new product development to maintain and improve quality for existing customers. In addition, he will work on advancing new grades for future customers. Adam says he’s excited to work with Ivex’s interesting paper machine because it’s capable of such a diverse range of potential products.   

Contact Adam via phone at (309)-686-3830 x7140

Michelle Witt – Director of Marketing

Michelle spent the early part of her career in the engineering and start-up worlds at B2B technology companies ranging from energy to educational software. As our Director of Marketing, she brings this entrepreneurial, growth mindset to help us connect with our current and soon-to-be customers. She enjoys discovering creative ways to share our stories with the world and says she is constantly learning new things about paper from our long-time team members.

Thad Edmonds – CFO

Thad has spent approximately 3 decades in the financial and accounting industries with over 15 years at a senior manager level of responsibility. As the Controller, he handles all of the accounting responsibilities. He says his favorite things about working at Ivex are working with such a dedicated group of people and learning the process of making specialty papers. He is proud that even though the team part of a larger organization, we are able to remain flexible enough to be able to meet our clients’ ever changing needs. And he believes the amount of experience amongst our staff is truly remarkable. Contact Thad via phone at (309)-686-3830 x 7115

Dan Rogers – Engineering / Maintenance Manager

Dan has over 25 years of experience in Maintenance and Engineering, with over 20 years of that in senior management roles. His background includes automotive, steel manufacturing, and fermentation. As the Maintenance and Engineering Manager, it is Dan’s responsibility to schedule maintenance and equipment PM’s, procure parts, oversee project work from concept to completion, manage building maintenance and schedule and oversee contractor work. He says he has found the staff here to be very knowledgable and professional and looks forward to spending a long career learning from, as well as working with, the team at Ivex. Contact Dan via phone at (309)-686-3830 x7129

Chris Kranz – Machine Superintendent

Chris has been in the paper industry for the past 22 years, the last 12 years being with Ivex, and the last 8 of those years as a shift supervisor and machine superintendent. His main responsibilities are scheduling of the mill employees, ensuring all personnel are working safely and responsibly, maximizing machine output while upholding quality, overseeing the mill’s effluent costs and maintaining all data. Chris has completed a color school class through XRITE to expand his knowledge of our color control system at the mill as well. He says he enjoys working with the entire team at Ivex on all the daily challenges and opportunities that come our way.

Contact Chris via phone at (309)-686-3830 x 7124

Paul Gilbert – Shift Supervisor

Paul has been working at the Peoria Mill for 24 years. He started as an extra man and worked his way up to Shift Supervisor. As a crew leader, he’s responsible for employee safety, performance, and the quality of the product. He says every day can bring a new challenge and his favorite part of working here is learning from each challenge as a team. Additionally, the friendships and loyalties he’s found here make this a great place to work.

Contact Paul via phone at (309)-686-3830 x 7124

Angie Klein – Human Resource Manager

Angie is the Human Resource Manager and Safety Coordinator at Ivex Specialty Paper. She’s responsible for payroll, benefits, workers compensation, and other human resource tasks. She is also responsible for safety training and the safety programs at the Peoria Mill. Angie has been employed with the company for over 30 years and says she really enjoys the diversity of her job, along with her interactions with all of the employees. Contact Angie via phone at (309)-686-3830 x 7110

Eric Thomas – Shift Supervisor

Eric has been with the mill for 14 years. He started as an extra hand working his way up on the paper machine and into a Shift Supervisor’s position. He’s held roles such as Chief Steward with the Union and member of the safety committee. As Shift Supervisor, his responsibilities include the safety of employees, performance, and the quality of the product. Eric says the parts of his role that excite him most are the group of people he gets to work with on a daily basis and the quality product they get to produce for customers.

Contact Eric via phone at (309)-686-3830 x 7124

Amy Thompson – Process Optimization and Product Development Engineer

Amy began working at Ivex Speciality Paper in 2021, as our Process Optimization and Product Development Engineer. In addition to working on key new upgrades to our paper machine, she works directly with Ivex’s operators to run customer trials and continuously improve our processes. Before joining Ivex, Amy was a manufacturing engineer for Caterpillar and worked in R&D and manufacturing at Hu-Friedy. Amy’s excited to learn more about the process and equipment involved in paper making. She looks forward to helping evolve and improve the processes at the mill over the years to come. Contact Amy via phone at (309)-686-3830 x 7135

David Wentzel – COO

44 years in the paper industry

Dave began working at Ivex Specialty Paper in April of 2016, as Technical Manager. In his role as COO, he is involved many aspects of keeping the mill running smoothly. Dave says he has enjoyed the opportunity to work with a group of people who truly care about the product they are producing, and the customers that they are serving.

Contact Dave via phone at (570)-295-2323

Robert Pitts – Customer Service Manager

46 years in the paper industry
Bob has worked in the Peoria mill for over 46 years. His first 22 years were in the union shop and his remaining years have been spent in management. Bob says he considers the mill his home away from home and thoroughly enjoys his job and the challenges it creates day to day. He also enjoys his fellow workers and considers them a team. Contact Robert via phone at (309)-686-3830 x 7114

James Braswell

49 years in the paper industry
James has been working in the sales for the Peoria Mill for 37 years, being able to watch the Peoria plant grow and undergo many changes. He says his career has been, and still is, a very challenging and rewarding experience all at the same time. He says we have employees that take ownership, great pride, and determination in making the Peoria Mill the best it can be and that truly makes the experience working here all the better.
Contact James at
office phone: (256)-362-5159
cell phone: (256)-493-4734

Cathy Bennett – Customer Success Manager

33 years in the paper industry

Cathy has had the benefit of working in the paper industry in many functional roles. Her deep technical knowledge comes from operational experience across mills and her leadership of process and product improvement initiatives. Her time in product development gave Cathy exposure to the marketing and sales side of the business and, combined with her operational experience, gives her a well-rounded approach to her current role at Ivex. She says she loves to help customers solve problems quickly by recognizing opportunities in our technical capabilities and delivering them in a way that makes sense for their businesses and ours!

Contact Cathy via phone at (920)-216-8606

William Platt – President & CEO

43 years in the paper industry

Bill’s first job in the paper industry was in Alabama in 1977. This remarkable industry has taken him to Wisconsin, Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, and finally to Ivex Specialty Paper in Peoria, Illinois. Bill has had the opportunity to work in wood yards, pulp mills, utility operations with boilers, turbines and evaporators as well as paper machines, coaters, and converting equipment of all shapes and sizes. He says the work is exciting for certain, but the people are really what makes it all worthwhile.

Contact Bill via phone at (920)-284-1665