The humble beginnings of a business are often lost over time. But in the case of Fibro Corp., it was a trip to the supermarket a decade ago that not only launched a new company, but changed the way the seemingly simple egg carton is made.

It all began when Paul Zhang noticed the wrinkled, unstable cartons eggs were stored in as he was picking up a few things at the store one afternoon. A natural born tinkerer, Paul through he could build a better mousetrap, or in this case, egg carton.

Egg cartons are made of recycled newspapers. Before Paul came along the newspaper pulp was mixed with water in a huge vat, pressed into shape, then sent to another room to dry. The drying process was uneven as the water slowly evaporated, creating the pock-marked surface. Paul figured out a new way to press and dry cartons at the same time, creating a smooth surface that lets customers such as QFC and Trader’s Joe print their labeling and nutrition information right on the carton.

Before they set up the Wenatchee factory, the company shipped U.S. waste paper overseas, formed it into cartons in Asia, and shipped them back.

Today, Fibro Corp. produces 200,000 egg cartons a day in its Wenatchee plant. Business has been so good, in fact, that the company decided to expand into the former Parker Paint factory in Tacoma. Fibro will not only move its headquarters to Tacoma but also hire 200 more employees to handle additional production of egg cartons and other containers using the company’s proprietary machinery. A new research and development center is also in the works so Fibro can continue to refine its machinery and processes as well as diversify into other product lines.

To learn more about why Fibro chose to expand in Washington State (hint, workforce and low-cost energy), read about them in Seattle Business.

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