• MFG Tray celebrated its 70th anniversary this year by transitioning into an employee-owned (ESOP) company.
  • MFG Tray spun off from Molded Fiber Glass Companies, founded by Robert Morrison, in 1952 and specializes in trays, boxes and other products for the foodservice industry.

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MFG Tray, headquartered in Linesville, Pennsylvania, celebrated its 70th anniversary this year with a move that will make a positive difference in the lives of its employees and the local economy for decades to come: As of October 1, it’s transitioning into an employee-owned company.

MFG Tray, which makes high-strength, glass-reinforced composite containers, trays, boxes, flats and totes, for the foodservice industry, was founded in 1952 as a spin-off from Molded Fiber Glass Companies (MFG). MFG Tray ultimately became one of 10 entities owned by MFG.

MFG itself launched in Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1948. Now, after 74 years of private ownership, MFG’s founders, the Morrison family, have sold 100% of its shares to the MFG Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), transitioning it to a 100% employee-owned company, according to a press release.

MFG Tray manufactures a wide variety of products for the pharmaceutical, medical, farming and cannabis industries. For pizza professionals, though, the company is best known for its high-quality dough boxes, proofing boards, pan extenders, trays and related products.

Since its founding by entrepreneur Robert S. Morrison (1909–2002), MFG has grown to be one of the largest local employers in the area, spanning four generations of the Morrison family over the past seven decades.

When MFG opened its doors, a small creative team worked diligently to figure out the best way to mass-produce the first polyester resin and fiberglass products. In 1953 MFG was selected to manufacture fiberglass body parts for the new Chevrolet Corvette. This move put MFG on the map as a significant player in the market and launched a sequence of other “firsts,” including the creation of the first fiberglass boats, high-volume truck and tractor parts, bakery trays, concrete forms and satellite dishes, to name a few.

These early successes allowed MFG to spin off specialized divisions, like MFG Tray, to support the ever-growing demand for fiberglass.

“It’s not common knowledge that fiberglass containers outperform and outlast plastic, metal and wood containers or that fiberglass containers integrate seamlessly into existing material handling operations,” Celena Davis, MFG Tray’s general sales manager, said.

The company’s tagline, “The material matters in material handling,” is also its anthem, Davis said. “Our team takes great pride in arming our clients with a new lineup of containers, knowing it will immediately up their game and let them kick the competition to the curb.”

The Morrison family’s entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to customer satisfaction and business integrity lives on through MFG Tray’s dedicated employees, the company said. The change in share ownership from Morrison family members to the ESOP doesn’t change contractual relationships or business operations; instead, it benefits and rewards the entire team directly dedicated to producing high-quality fiberglass products.

John Thompson, MFG Tray’s president and general manager, noted that any discussion on the transition to an ESOP must first begin with a heartfelt expression of gratitude.

“Our team is incredibly grateful for the Morrison, Warner and Raffa families’ support over the past seven decades,” Thompson said. “Under their ownership, MFG Tray teammates became a part of their extended family—a rare thing in today’s competitive business world. We sincerely appreciate all they have done for our operation, and we wish them a blessed future.”

“Looking ahead, we are excited to begin the transition to an ESOP and for its potential,” Thompson added. “Robert Morrison wove spirit, commitment and integrity into MFG, and now it is up to us to keep those principles in the forefront. Fortunately, we have the best team in the industry. They are not only ready for the challenge but talented enough to grow and expand MFG Tray’s operations and footprint for generations to come.”

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