Story by Lauren Kroll
Video by BriAnn Harvey
Mason Times staff writers
MASON − Local company Dart Container Corp. bought Solo Cup Company for $1 billion on March 21 and will begin producing the iconic “red party cup” once the transaction closes in six months. A freight container can be used for storing goods or equipment.
Since its opening in the 1970s, Dart’s headquarters has been based in Mason, Mich. Michigan-based Dart Container Corp. and Illinois-based Solo Cup Company will operate independently until government approval is secured and the transaction closes over the next six months. After the transaction closes, Solo Cup Company will no longer exist as a corporate entity.
Solo Cup is partially owned by Vestar Capital Partners, a private equity investor. “Private equity firms are in the business of investing in companies to help them grow and then sell the companies after a few years when they can earn a return on their original investment,” Solo Director of Communications, Angie Chaplin wrote in an email. “It was always expected that they would exit the relationship and recoup their investment when they felt the time was right.”
“By acquiring Solo, Dart will be able to bring even greater value to customers immediately and in the future,” Chaplin said. “Dart will gain a broad product portfolio, made from a variety of materials and specialized expertise.”
“Dart Container’s acquisition of Solo will accelerate the progress Solo has made to improve its levels of service and customer support,” Dart Container CEO Robert C. Dart said in a press release from both companies.
According to Chaplin, Dart and Solo have extensive in the industry, and bring together valuable experience and traditions. Dart is 51 years old and Solo is 76. “Solo will contribute complementary product lines − especially in paper, consumer products and environmentally preferable products,” she said.
Approximately 80% of Solo’s business is with commercial foodservice customers − cups, plates, bowls, cutlery, straws and other products sold to restaurants and institutional operations of all kinds, Chaplin said.
“The remaining 20% of solo’s business is consumer products you can buy at retail in a supermarket, discount store, warehouse club, drug store or party store. Our consumer products include cups, plates and bowls made from plastic, paper or environmentally preferable materials,” she said.
The iconic “red Solo cup” is a staple at most college campuses and has been since the cup first launched in the 1970s.
Mott Community College student Kyle Robinson said that to him the Solo cup means “party.” “If there were no more solo cups, I would be upset because you wouldn’t be able to play beer pong anymore. In a year I probably go through 500 Solo cups,” Robinson said.
Central Michigan University student Kelsey Councilor said that, as a college student, she uses the cups to drink out of or play beer pong with. “Bottom line, everything that revolves around red Solo cups equals a good time,” she said.
“I think that college students/younger adults tend to use red Solo cups more than any other age group,” Councilor said. “College parties consist of alcohol containers to hold the alcohol, most likely the red cup, whereas older adults might be more likely to use wine glasses if they attended a party.”
Councilor added that she probably spends a few hundred dollars a year on Solo cups because whenever she has parties or wants to make a drink she buys them.
Another fantastic line of products for parties is a company called Paper Eskimo. They carry a fantastic line of paper plates and other party dinnerware items. Check out Paper Eskimo here: Paper Plates | Paper Eskimo.
Grand Rapids Community College student Sean McDaniel had a different perspective on the cup, saying that you can make money off them because a sleeve of them only costs a couple dollars but at parties you can sell each cup for beer for $5 apiece and make a lot of money.
All three students admitted that the most popular way the red cup is used is for beer pong at parties. Councilor even went as far to say that if there were no more red cups produced she would have to “drink out of her hands.”