John Kempton grew up in a paper mill town in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. His family had been involved in paper making for many years.
After serving in Canadian Peacekeeping Operations in the late 1950’s, he moved to Ontario, Canada. In the early 1960’s, he began working in sales at a large pulp and paper company.
John became inspired to be an entrepreneur at this time. He founded Merit Paper and Bag Company Limited in 1967.
He and his wife were the only employees to start and initially run the business from their own basement in Scarborough, Ontario.
He started Merit Paper and Bag Company as a distributing company, selling everything from foam trays to garbage bags to customers like restaurants, schools and offices.
The company quickly grew to be too big for the basement. It needed more space, so John moved Merit’s operations to progressively larger rented units in Scarborough, Ontario in 1968, and again in 1970.
Merit continued to rapidly grow. So Merit built its own new 25,000 sq. ft. facility in Pickering, Ontario in the fall of 1973.
The building quickly filled up. Another 30,000 sq. ft. of space was built onto the facility in 1975.
In this facility, Merit expanded its operations from distributing into manufacturing and distributing paper products.
Merit purchased several new devices: slitter rewinders, a sheeter and bag machines. These machines convert (cut) large rolls of paper stock into sheets, smaller rolls and bags, among other products.
Merit Paper Company’s main customers became newspapers, printers and paper mills. In the 1970’s, about 95% of Merit’s business consisted of newsprint.
EXPANSION TO CURRENT SITE
Growth continued, and running out of operational space, Merit purchased 10 acres in Oshawa, Ontario and built its current facility in 1980. After several additions, Merit’s facility now has 92,000 sq. ft of operational and warehousing space.
John is retired, but Merit Paper Company remains a family run business.
Since moving to its Oshawa facility, Merit has purchased newer and larger machinery that gives it an expanded capability range.
Merit continues to be flexible to meeting changing customer needs. Now Merit concentrates on converting (“slitting”) and rewinding paper products. With the onset of plastic bags, Merit no longer makes paper bags and also no longer does sheeting.
Today, the company’s primary customers are paper mills and printers. But Merit’s expertise, and operational flexibility in converting products has expanded its customer base. Merit now converts everything from tissues to board and corrugated products.