The Dart Story

Over 50 Years of Excellence in People and Products

The Dart story begins with a small machine shop in Mason, Michigan known as Dart Manufacturing Company. Established in 1937, this modest business prospered through the manufacture of such products as plastic key cases, steel tape measures, and identification tags for the armed services. Subsequent experimentation with expandable polystyrene in the late 1950s led to a line of high quality insulated foam cups, and Dart Container Corporation was born.

**Timeline is best viewed in full screen.**

  • 1960

     • The foam cup story begins with a single 25,000 square foot cup plant in Mason, Michigan, employing about 25 people. The Dart’s H-cup had become a reality and Dart was now ready to forge ahead into the world of single-use food and beverage packaging products.

    • Production started with a 6 oz. foam cup.

    • Jim Baer, who ultimately founded Container Sales Corporation, had begun laying the groundwork for future sales of Dart cups. Container Sales Corporation eventually became Dart Container Sales Company which markets and sells Dart products throughout the world.

    • April 20 – invoiced the first cup shipment to Jackson Paper in Jackson, Mississippi.

  • 1961

    • February – First National Account sale was to Greyhound Foods in Memphis, Tennessee, for its Post House restaurants.

  • 1962

    • First special print cup – sold to Bearden’s Drive-In, in Ohio.

    • Product line – expanded to include 8 and 12 oz. cups, and an 8 oz. food container.

    • First retail package was created.

  • 1963

    • Dart Manufacturing Company officially changed its name to Dart Container Corporation and focused all of its efforts on producing foam cups.

  • 1964

    • The decision was made to expand the business by opening our 2nd plant in Leola, Pennsylvania. First shipment was in October to Harrisburg Paper in Pennsylvania.

    • Produced the first private label cups for United Institutional Distributors (UID).

    • Hired the first food broker – Tucker and Clarke.

  • 1965

    • Charles G. Stott and Company Paper, located in Washington, D.C., was the first customer to purchase 1 million cups in one month.

    • Mead Merchants/Graham Jones Paper in Tampa, Florida, was the first customer to order a railroad car of Dart products.

    • October – began manufacturing lids for the Dart product line. Dart invented the first ever interchangeable lid for the foam cup.

  • 1966

    • Opened our 3rd plant in Lithonia, Georgia.

  • 1967

    • One of Dart's earliest special print accounts and flagship customer – Chick-fil-A® – pioneered the concept of serving fast food in a mall. Their first mall-based unit opened in Atlanta's Greenbriar Mall, using Dart cups.

  • 1968

    • North Aurora, Illinois, our 4th plant, began manufacturing Dart products.

  • 1969

    • Added a new product line – foam bowls.

  • Growth

    Employees: 100
    Plants: 4
    Total Square Footage: 470,000 (43,500 square meters)

  • 1970

    • Completed new product identification numbers from 6H80 to 6H6 - to coordinate with lid size.

    • Completed our first decade in business manufacturing foam cups and containers.

  • 1971

    • Opened our 5th plant in Corona, California.

    • Introduced a line of injection molded clear Crystal Ware cups.

  • 1972

    • Introduced several sizes of pour spout lids that transformed standard cups and food containers into beverage carafes.

  • 1973

    • Opened our 6th plant in Waxahachie, Texas. The first cups at this location were produced in March.

    • Introduced a new style of cup – the Space Saver (J cup) – setting the industry standard with its distinctive pedestal and space-saving design.

    • Introduced an impact polystyrene dinnerware line – Famous Service®. The Consumer Products division added this impact dinnerware line for the retail market.

    • Dart Container Corporation co-founder, William F. Dart, and his wife, celebrated 50 years of marriage.

  • 1974

    • Introduced Style Setter® – a medium weight line of cutlery featuring a clean, modern design with the durability to stand up to any use.

    • Dinnerware covers were introduced – a high impact plastic cover – mainly for the hospital market segment.

  • 1975

    • Ken Dart, W A’s middle son, began working in the company business.

    • Introduced the pitcher handle which – when combined with the pour spout lid and 32 oz. container – created a disposable beverage service for the healthcare market.

  • 1976

    • We won Supplier of the Decade (1966 - 1976) award from the CODE, Inc., organization.

  • 1977

    • Added Bonus® – a light weight cutlery line which resists breaking, even under the most stressful use.

    • The Consumer Products division launched its first package of J cups.

  • 1978

    • Introduced Concorde® dinnerware – a non-laminated line of foam plates and bowls.

    • E. Greene and Company, Inc., in New York, was Dart’s first single-location distributor to purchase over 1 million dollars of Dart products in a single calendar year.

  • 1979

    • Introduced Quiet Classic® – a foam dinnerware line laminated for extra strength and added gloss.

  • Growth

    Additional Employees: 525
    New Plants: 2
    Total Increase in Square Footage: 1.13 million (105,000 square meters)

  • 1980

    • Built our 7th plant in Horse Cave, Kentucky. The first production was in June.

  • 1981

    • Introduced the 6 and 8 oz. “Easy to Hold”™ cups for the retail market. The “Easy to Hold”™ design of our cups allows for easy handling by consumers of all ages.

    • Launched a new product line with the introduction of a 3-compartment foam hinged lid tray. A dependable perimeter seal is key to reducing leaks and avoiding unintentional tray openings.

  • 1982

    • Introduced the Sip-Thru® Lid. Our patented design allows easy sipping of beverages while reducing the chance of spills.

  • 1983

    • In February, Dart began production of polystyrene for lids at a resin plant it had recently acquired in Owensboro, Kentucky, our 8th plant. Eventually, this plant produced EPS for our foam cup and container line.

    • Opened our 9th plant in Plant City, Florida. Production started in March.

  • 1984

    • Opened our 10th plant in Tumwater, Washington in November.

    • Added a new product line with the acquisition of Conex® thermoformed cups and containers. The translucent cups – designed for the cold drink market – feature ribbed sidewalls which increase cup strength and provide a no-slip grip.

    • The Dart Foundation was established by W A and Claire Dart. In years to come the Dart Foundation would become a large philanthropic grant maker, focused primarily on support for education (particularly science, math, and engineering), as well as journalism, health, disaster relief and community services.

  • 1985

    • Our 11th plant – and first international production facility – opened in Campbellford, Ontario, Canada.

    • Dart celebrated its 25th anniversary on April 20th, by honoring our many long term customers.

    • Introduced Thermo-Glaze® – a premium line of foam cups featuring extra durable construction and a high gloss finish which displays custom printing at its best.

  • • Opened our 12th plant in Lodi, California.

    • Launched the Horizon stock print design – which offers an economical alternative to custom print. This line is color coded by size, making it easier for operators to charge the correct price at the cash register.

  • 1987

    • Began producing our own printing ink at a separate facility in Holt, Michigan.

    • Clearview, a company whose product lines included stretch wrap, was acquired by Dart.

    • In anticipation of Jim Baer’s upcoming retirement, Container Sales Corporation – which handled the sales of Dart products – officially became a part of Dart Container Corporation on July 1st.

  • 1988

    • Opened our 13th plant in Randleman, North Carolina in March – which produced thermoformed translucent cups.

    • The first overseas production facility – and 14th plant worldwide – opened in West Midlands, England.

    • A significant milestone was reached in June at the Owensboro, Kentucky plant, where Dart began producing its own expandable polystyrene (EPS) bead used in foam cup production.

  • 1989

    • Introduced Showtime® – a product line of oriented polystyrene (OPS) hinged lid containers in June. These heavy duty containers provide total product visibility, and the corner ribbing and seven-lock closure features ensure a strong, secure package.

    • Launched the Party Cup line of red plastic cups for the retail market.

  • Growth

    Additional Employees: 2875
    New Plants: 8
    Total Increase in Square Footage: 4.2 million (390,180 square meters)

  • 1990

    • Dart introduced an innovative recycling program for our end users with the CARE program. CARE stands for Cups Are REcyclable. This program made foam recycling possible and practical for many of our customers. Dart opened foam recycling facilities in Mason, Leola, Plant City and Campbellford.

    • In the 1990’s, we introduced two foam food container lids which are unique to Canada. These are dome lids developed mostly for use with Chinese food products.

  • 1991

    • Recognizing a trend towards pre-packaged goods for use in new areas such as supermarkets, Dart introduced ClearPac® deli containers to complement our other line of clear containers (Showtime®).

    • Over 50 Dart CARE recycling programs were placed with our accounts.

  • 1992

    • Dart received a letter of commendation for its recycling efforts from the Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Solid Waste.

    • Our Recycla-Pak™ and CARE programs were featured on The Discovery Channel's "Today's Environment" television program. Recycla-Pak™ provides customers in selected areas with a collection device to use as a shipping container to return cups to Dart for recycling.

  • 1993

    • Bob Dart, W A’s youngest son, became responsible for the daily operations of Dart Container Corporation.

  • 1994

    • Introduced Cappuccino lids in Canada – the first division to sell this unique product designed for the gourmet coffee beverage industry.

  • 1995

    • With the growing popularity of the gourmet coffee beverage market, we expanded the availability of our domed Cappuccino lids to include both the U.S. and United Kingdom divisions.

  • 1996

    • Opened our 15th plant in Atlacomulco, Mexico. With this addition, we now had 3 international plants in production.

    • Launched Café G® – our foam cup stock print designed to meet the growing demand of the gourmet coffee market.

    • Introduced the Chip Cone – unique to the United Kingdom (UK chips are similar to American French fries). At a later date, a variation of this product was developed for Australia and called the Chip Cup.

    • In Mexico, a new 10 oz. foam cup with unique embossing was introduced that creates a design resembling Aztec and Mayan symbols.

  • 1997

    • Opened three manufacturing facilities:

    ~Dart purchased an existing foam cup plant in Smithfield, New South Wales, Australia, and converted the operations to Dart equipment and processes. The Phoenix Manufacturing Services Pty. Ltd. facility became our 4th international plant and 16th plant worldwide.

    ~Opened our 17th plant in Pilar, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Our 5th international plant began production in July.

    ~Opened our 18th plant in Quitman, Mississippi. The first product was shipped in October.

    • Introduced a line of translucent polystyrene portion containers.

  • 1998

    • Introduced the first 4 cups to 1 lid program in the United Kingdom – the first cup manufacturer in the U.K. to offer this lid interchangeability feature.

  • 1999

    • Introduced a foam cup stock print unique to Argentina – “Helados” – developed for the ice cream market.

  • Growth

    Additional Employees: 2,900
    New Plants: 4
    Total Increase in Square Footage: 4.2 million (390,180 square meters)

  • 2000

    • Introduced Conex Classic® – a premium plastic cup with crystal clarity. Made of crack-resistant PET, these cups are sturdy yet flexible.

    • Launched the EPS foam pedestal cup in response to popular demand for a product that would fit in most car cupholders. Chick-fil-A® was Dart’s first customer to buy this new pedestal cup.

    • Introduced StayLock® OPS clear hinged lid containers – geared to the bakery and supermarket industries.

  • 2001

    • Introduced the Performer™ foam hinged lid containers. Because the hinge is perforated, the container lid and base can easily be separated.

    • Black containers were added to the ClearPac® line to provide an attractive and upscale food presentation.

    • In Argentina, the Frutas stock print was introduced.

  • 2002

    • Opened our 19th plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania – the first cups were produced in September.

    • Introduced the 2 oz. food container in the United Kingdom. This is used in many markets, including the ever-popular fish-n-chip market.

    • Introduced PresentaBowls® – a new line of OPS products featuring an elegant crystal cut design for the deli and bakery markets.

    • Dart put in writing the core principles and values that have guided our business from its infancy leading us to set the “Industry Standard of Excellence”.

  • 2003

    • Black foam dinnerware was introduced – providing a contemporary, upscale appearance.

  • 2004

    • Dart’s Optima® lid was introduced – the industry’s first reclosable, leak resistant lid. It provides users with a completely sealed beverage container. Most notable is the ability to securely reclose the lid until ready to resume drinking. Our first customer for this special lid was Dunkin’ Donuts®.

    • Dart launched the Sipper style lids in Australia – a dome travel lid with a spout.

    • Consumer Products launched the Party Cups Display Shipper – which prominently showcases the red and blue plastic party cup packages contained inside.

  • 2005

    • Launched Conex Complements® portion containers and lids in March. Made of durable, crack-resistant polypropylene, they’re ideal for the many diverse dining and take away applications in the foodservice market.

    • The new 165CC cup was introduced in Argentina. This 5.5 oz. foam cup was designed primarily for their semi-automatic coffee machines and water dispensers.

    • The Fruitz™ stock print was launched in Australia. This colorful design captures the freshness and appeal of fruit juice and smoothie drinks.

  • 2006

    • Dart launched Fusion® – the new cup line with a ThermoThin™ core and premium paper wrap. Fusion offers superb graphics and superior insulation for the upscale gourmet beverage program. Chick-fil-A® was Dart’s first Fusion customer.

    • Introduced a unique 60 oz. embossed foam food container size in Mexico. This is the largest capacity product Dart manufactures.

    • Introduced black Conex Complements®.

    • Consumer Products introduced the Insulated Travel Cups & Lids retail package, featuring the Optima® reclosable lid. These two products make the perfect “take it with you anywhere” combination.

  • 2007

    • Opened our 20th plant in November in Tijuana, Mexico – our 2nd facility in Mexico and 6th international plant.

    • Dart’s individually wrapped foam cups debuted – primarily for use in the hotel industry for in-room beverage programs.

    • Introduced Style Select® – a new line of black medium weight cutlery. Style Select® is manufactured with 70% re-processed polystyrene.

    • The City of Los Angeles agreed to accept clean foam foodservice containers in their curbside recycling program.

  • 2008

    • Launched ClearSeal® – clear hinged lid containers which feature a locking system that creates a complete perimeter seal.

    • Introduction of our black foam hinged lid containers.

    • Introduced several foam cups designed specifically for Brazil. These cups have embossed lines which serve as a capacity measure that aligns with Brazil’s portion regulations.

  • 2009

    • Launched Conex Classic RE-PETE® – a line of clear Conex Classic® cups made with 20% post-consumer recycled PETE.

    • Introduced a line of polypropylene clear cold cups – Conex ClearPro®.

    • Introduced the 1.25 oz. retail foam cup – geared for the espresso coffee beverage market.

  • Growth

    Additional Employees: 1,100
    New Plants: 2
    Total Increase in Square Footage: 6 million (557,400 square meters)

    In the first 50 years, Dart grew from a start-up company with a single product and two people (William F. Dart and W A Dart), to a global corporation with 20 plants in 6 countries and over 7,500 employees. Dart produces more than 600 quality single-use products and packages worldwide for the foodservice, retail/consumer, and food packaging industries.

  • 2010

    • In recognition of our 50th Anniversary, Dart Container Corporation made 50 grants totaling $250,000 to schools and organizations in the communities where we have production facilities and offices.

    • Introduced Conex ClearPro white polypropylene cups for custom print.

    • Consumer Products launched the Etch-It Party Cups enabling consumers to personalize their own cup.

    • Dart appears on social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter allowing for a more personal means of communication. Find us on Facebook

    • A foam collection center opened in Atlacomulco, Mexico in June, and recycling efforts have begun in Argentina.

    • Dart was inducted into the Keep Chicago Beautiful's Recycling Hall of Fame, and awarded the Waste Reduction Award from California's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle).

  • 2011

    • New product lines include Fusion Steele® stock print cups and PresentaBowls Pro™ black square bowls.

    • Dart dedicates its Tribute Garden on the Mason, Michigan campus to honor the more than 800 past and current employees with 25 years or more of service to the company.

    • The United Kingdom’s first foam recycling center opens at Dart’s Cradley Heath facility.

    • Dart Container loses its Founder and Chairman William A. “W A” Dart, who passes away at the age of 84.

    • Dart adds more than 200 trailers to increase truckload capacity, resulting in fewer trips, lower freight costs and decreased air pollution.

  • 2012

    • Dart Container acquires Brazil production facility Brasbar, which has approximately 100 employees. Located in Pindamonhangaba, Brazil becomes the seventh country in which Dart Container has production facilities.

    • On May 4, Dart Container completes its purchase of Solo Cup Company, headquartered in Lake Forest, IL. Solo has 7,500 employees and approximately 20 production plants and distribution centers worldwide.

    • New product line ClearPac SafeSeal® is introduced. The new line of containers features a tamper-resistant hinge.

  • 2013

    • Dart's first international location, Cradley Heath-United Kingdom, celebrated its 25th Anniversary in November 2013.

    • Introduced Conex ProMotions transparent polypropylene product line. This line of cups enhances custom printing while also allowing beverage to show through.

    • Began a major expansion at our Mason, Michigan campus, adding a 110,000 square foot corporate office building and a 500,000 square foot warehouse. Construction will be completed in mid-2014. Dart added nearly 300 employees in mid-Michigan in 2013.

    • Integrated Dart production equipment into our Brazil facility (acquired in 2012) and introduced Dart products into the Brazilian marketplace.

  • 2014

    • Introduced new packaging for Solo consumer product lines to increase shelf presence with more engaging, appealing and informative graphics.

    • Continued to invest in our Mason corporate campus, opening a 500,000 square-foot warehouse, 144,000 square-foot corporate office building and numerous renovations. More than 500 new employees joined our mid-Michigan operations between 2012-2014.

    • Introduced a new line of "Cheeky" products for Target that includes paper plates and bowls, cup and lid combo packages and colored cutlery.

    • Launched new Solo-branded consumer products and Dart corporate websites.

  • 2015

    • Consolidated Dart and Solo business operations in the U.K. and Canada, creating Dart Products Europe Inc. Ltd. and Dart Canada Inc.

    • Introduced Solo® Snack Bowls and Bowls to Go.

    • Reintroduced the Anthora paper hot cup to the New York City market. Once dubbed perhaps the most successful cup in history by The New York Times, the Anthora cup is a longstanding NYC icon.

    • Launched a new app and site that allows customers to use their mobile devices to easily find the products they need.

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