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Bert Miller of Phoenix Closures: Advocate for Job Creation


Some of America’s small and mid-size manufacturers can trace their roots back more than 100 years. An example is Phoenix Closures, based in Naperville, Illinois, which designs and manufactures plastic lids for products like Jif peanut butter, Nestea powdered drink, Coffee Mate creamer, Taster’s Choice coffee, and Hershey’s single-serving milk, along with many cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and other products.

The company’s origins date back to 1890, when a Civil War veteran named John Giles founded a business making glass jars. Three years later, he expanded into manufacturing caps. A subsequent merger in 1911 with the Phoenix Cap Company out of New York formed the foundation of today’s Phoenix Closures.

Phoenix introduced the modern continuous-thread cap in 1922, the pulp-and-glassine liner system in the 1930s, and the AccuSeal sealing system in 2001. Yet, many of their patents have been awarded just within the last five years. The company likes to say that innovation at Phoenix Closures is a process, not an event.

Phoenix Closures operates four manufacturing facilities and one stand-alone warehouse. They also have a representative in Great Britain who facilitates exports to Europe. Their newest plant, opened in 2012, is in Greencastle, Indiana. The building previously had been an auto-parts stamping plant. Phoenix Closures took advantage of the existing crane bay and rail access, but otherwise redeveloped the 250,000 square foot building completely to accommodate their equipment and employees.

Bert Miller, who until recently was the company’s longtime CEO, has been a dedicated advocate for manufacturing and for policies conducive to job creation. He is a past chair of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, a Board member of the National Association of Manufacturers, and the 2007 recipient of the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Entrepreneur of the Year honor.

Workforce development has been a priority, and not long ago, Phoenix Closures was honored in Indiana with a WorkOne Achievement Award for its dedication to creating job opportunities. Those efforts are particularly appreciated in the Hoosier state, where unemployment has been persistently high in recent years.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Closures will continue to innovate and meet the needs of its customers. So the next time you remove the plastic lid from a jar of peanut butter or other product, know that there is a good chance it was made by the folks at Phoenix Closures, drawing on their 124 years in the business.