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R.A. Jones has grown, changed since its founding in Covington; now multi-national, it’s going ‘green’ here

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

It started with soap – in 1905 – in Covington.

R.A Jones and Company was founded in 1905 as a soap packaging company – with roots in Covington. The first soap packaging machine was built in 1912. In 1946, KartridgPak in Chicago was founded as a subsidiary of Oscar Mayer & Company in order to develop packaging for sausages. And today – 118 years later – the plant on Crescent Springs Road – in a different part of Covington – is a global leader in the design and manufacture of primary and secondary packaging machinery for the food, pharmaceutical, dairy and consumer goods industries.

R.A. Jones solar panels. (Photo provided)

“We offer quite an extensive portfolio of solutions for applications in aerosol, cartoning, chub packaging, cup filling, multi-packing, pouching and modified atmosphere,” CEO Jonathon Titterton, told the Northern Kentucky Tribune in his British accent, during a plant tour one recent afternoon.

Coesia purchased Oystar North America – Covington and Davenport, Iowa locations – and renamed the company R.A. Jones.

The company was family-owned – until 1998 – when Jones was then purchased by British-based, BWI, Inc. (Barry-Wehmiller International).

But Titteron isn’t resting. R.A Jones will be the first U.S. Coesia Company to install rooftop solar panels.

How did that happen?

“Several employees actually suggested it,” Titteron said, “We had our management team meet on it, and it was fully supported.”

It will go sometime in early 2024. And why?

“We want to go green,” he said. “It will be great for the environment, and of course, it makes us a real good neighbor in Northern Kentucky.”

And since energy is used to build the machines – solar energy will be more affordable and cleaner.

“More than 50 percent of the plant will be powered by solar panels,” he said, “This will reduce our carbon footprint.”

The solar roof mount system is expected to produce more than two-million kWh of clean energy annually, or more than half of the facility’s energy needs in the first year, which is enough to power 195 U.S. homes’ energy needs for one year, according to a company release.

R.A Jones facility on Crescent Springs Road. (Photo provided)

The solar roof array will consist of 3,773 solar modules, covering approximately 85 percent of the building’s roof surface. The project also includes six electric vehicle charging stations which have already been installed on the R.A Jones’ campus for use by company employees.

When fully operational, the ballasted solar power system will generate 100 percent sustainable, zero-carbon electricity at the 250,000-square-foot facility.

Customers like Bumble Bee Seafood have been packaging their products with R.A. Jones packaging machinery the last several years with less material, substituting its plastic shrink-wrap with recycled paperboard. The company recently developed new sealing technology that will enable CPGs to run ecofriendly packaging materials on R.A. Jones’ packaging equipment.

Melink Solar of Milford, Ohio, is providing the complete design and build of the solar panel system for R.A. Jones.

Nearly three out-of-four consumers around the world will choose products based solely on whether the packaging is sustainable, according to a Trivium Packaging 2023 “Buying Green Report.”

And many of those products are packaged at R.A. Jones in Covington.

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