In 1958, Buckeye Container began with just eight employees led by Melvin E. Barthen. As the President and sole stockholder, Melvin – or Mel for short – started what would become an employee-owned business for decades to come.

Five years later in 1963, Buckeye Container installed its first single-color press and started printing on corrugated board. By 1966, the company’s staff had grown to 12 employees and, for the first time, Mel gave the option to employees to buy stock in the business, expanding the employee-owned concept.


Over the next few years, more people joined the team, including Vice President Jim Basford, and the first Board of Directors was formed. But in 1978, the company’s founder and President Mel Barthen passed away. Per his estate, Jim Basford was named President. At this time, the company’s annual sales had surpassed $5 million and continued to be 100% employee-owned.


After several years of expansion and growth, Buckeye Container became Buckeye Corrugated, Inc. in 1984 with three divisions – Buckeye Container, Tennessee Packaging, and All Size Corrugated.

Over the next few decades, BCI grew exponentially, continually evolving to keep up with the industry and with customer demand by expanding our capabilities and services.

Today, BCI is the largest independent sheet plant operator in the United States with over 850 employees and over $450 million in annual sales. We now have eleven corrugated manufacturing facilities and four sheet feeders located in nine Southern and Midwestern states, all of which are independently managed and supply a diverse range of customers with custom-designed corrugated packaging and point-of-purchase displays.

But no matter how big we get or how much we evolve, one thing will never change: We will always remain employee-owned.