BOYLSTON, Mass. - A project nearly two decades in the making finally came to fruition on Thursday - a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for Rand-Whitney’s new packaging facility in Boylston.

What You Need To Know

  • Rand-Whitney, a Worcester-based packaging company, opened a new facility in Boylston on Thursday

  • Plans for the 384,000 square foot building date back to 2005

  • Gov. Maura Healey and Patriots owner Robert Kraft were on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony 

  • The project required a $125 million investment from The Kraft Group

Gov. Maura Healey and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft took a tour of the state-of-the-art building. Rand-Whitney CEO Nick Smith first walked the site of his company’s new 384,000 square foot home in 2005, but the economic recession three years later would put plans on hold.

It wasn’t until the e-commerce boom during the COVID-19 pandemic that fortunes began to turn. It was a profitable time for a company specializing in packaging.

“We went to ownership in fall 2020 and essentially said on faith, we think the demand is there, our customers are going to do great, we’d like to move forward with this project," Smith said.

It took a $125 million investment from parent company The Kraft Group to finally turn this vision into reality, but Robert Kraft saw the vision and approved.

At the ceremony, he reflected on his commutes to Worcester shortly after graduating from Harvard Business School, when he used to work a factory job feeding paper into a corrugation machine.

“Here I am standing almost 60 years later, and I wouldn’t believe it," Kraft said. "We’re opening the most modern plant in America. This will be the best plant, the most efficient, and people will come visit here from all over the world.”

Only about a third of the company’s equipment has been moved in - the rest will arrive over the next year. The building’s scale is massive, and its designers say you have to see it in person to truly appreciate it.

John Stebbins, managing director of PROCON design, recalled a visit he made to the site early in construction.

“They were doing a slab placement inside and there were about 30 concrete trucks inside the building along with maybe 120 concrete workers finishing the slab, and you looked around the building, and even with all that activity, it looked empty," Stebbins said.

Healey celebrated the success story of a local, family-owned business working together with the Town of Boylston to overcome all the project’s challenges, and looks forward to seeing its benefits for the state.

“Know that you’re going to have a partner in me and Kim Driscoll and this administration because we want every community in every region of the state really, really thriving," Healey said. "What an amazing model, I don’t know if we can replicate it, but that’s what we should be aspiring to do across this state.”

Rand-Whitney is the largest independent corrugated packaging manufacturer in New England, and its roots in Worcester date back to 1938.