By Michelle Price
UCBJ Managing Editor
MONTEREY – Local business leaders, elected officials, Monterey residents and special guests gathered on June 28 to celebrate Cumberland Container’s 50 years in operation. Guests were offered company tours before the ceremony showcasing the new and innovative machinery and technology utilized by the manufacturer.
Cumberland Container’s history is a testament to what can be achieved with an innovative idea, tenacity and a town that is willing to take a leap of faith to support an emerging industry.
In 1968 Eugene Jared and five other investors had an idea to start a packaging company in Monterey. They looked at the industries that were moving into middle Tennessee and saw a potential need for packaging. Afterwards, a feasibility study concluded that there was a need and that Monterey was a viable location.
The town of Monterey was instrumental in helping the company get started. Monterey formed the Monterey City Development Company which acquired property and constructed a 6,000-square-foot building to lease to the newly formed company. Cumberland Container officially launched in July 1969 with five employees and four machines.
“It was not an overnight success,” said Mark Jared, Cumberland Container co-owner and the son of Eugene Jared. “That first year they did $32,625 in sales; however, the six investors were pretty determined and each agreed to put in $100 a month to keep the business afloat which went on for three to four years before it could stand on its own. It took ten years before the company hit the $1 million in sales mark and it wasn’t until 1991, 22 years after it started that it began recording an annual profit.”
Today, Cumberland Container has grown to be a $20 million a year company. Employees have increased from the original five to 82 full-time employees along with some temps and the facility size has grown from 6,000 to 263,000 square feet.
In 2012, Eugene Jared convinced his son, Mark to move home from China and to buy Cumberland Container. Today, Mark Jared is co-owner along with his sister, Amy Jared, and his daughter, Amber Jared.
Michael D’Angelo, president-elect of the Association of Independent Corrugated Converters (AICC), an association of 274 independent, mostly family owned, box companies, said that independent box makers make up only 18 percent of the packaging industry.
“The best thing about this business is Cumberland Container makes something for customers that are also making something,” said D’Angelo. “Manufacturing is thriving in this country. AICC and Cumberland Container are proud to be a part of it.”
Rep. John Rose shared remarks he made on the Tennessee House floor on June 27, 2019 which were entered into the Congressional Record. He recognized the importance of Cumberland Container to the town, to Putnam County and to the state. Cumberland Container has an economic impact of approximately $10 million annually on the region.
Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter presented Jared with a proclamation naming June 28, 2019 as “Cumberland Container Corporation Day” in Putnam County and a photo of the original Cumberland Container building from the 1970’s from the Putnam County archives.
“I remember 1969,” said Monterey Mayor Bill Wiggins. “The railroad had gone bankrupt two years earlier. The coal mines were closed. Monterey Hardwood Flooring Company succumbed to everybody’s infatuation with carpet. Businesses were closing and generally speaking, Monterey was in a funk.”
“Let me proclaim today, because of efforts like Eugene Jared, Don Wakefield, Jim Copeland … these folks looked to Monterey and we’re so glad they did. That was 50 years ago, six employees now 82, 6,000 square feet and now this safely tucked away off Hanging Limb Hwy. It is no longer the best kept secret in the Upper Cumberland,” said Wiggins.