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Red Solo Cup
Adam Anderson

Red solo cup maker sold for $1 billion

by Adam Anderson | Dun & Bradstreet Editor

May 10, 2012 | 1 Comment »

Red Solo CupSolo Cup Company, the makers of the iconic red solo cup made immortal by Toby Keith’s catchy ode last year, has been sold to Dart Container in a transaction valued at $1 billion.

In the container manufacturing sector, the deal is massive for several reasons. Firstly, it’s the end result of decades of intense competition between two long-time historical rivals constantly battling for market share.

Dart Container already commanded about half of the global market in foam cups (no doubt you have used their ubiquitous white foam cups before). In addition to its instantly recognizable red solo cups, Solo Cup makes plates, cutlery, take-out containers, and other similar products, under the Solo, Sweetheart, Creative Carryouts, and Bare brand names.

Another reason this deal is notable is because of the veil of secrecy that has hovered over privately owned Dart Container over the years. The king of cups is notoriously protective over the way it manufactures its products. The Dart family never patented the cup-making machine they developed, and this allowed them to avoid revealing how it works. The company, which was founded in 1960 by chairman William A. Dart and his father William F. is under the control of W.A. Dart’s sons, CEO Bob and president Ken.

As part of the transaction, Dart paid $315 million in cash and assumed about $700 million of Solo’s debt. The family owned and operated Dart continues to offer products under the Solo brand, including its popular red cups. Dart makes more than 600 products and owns locations in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Mexico, and the US.

In a surprise move (keeping in mind its history), Dart has denounced its secret ways, leapt into the public sphere, and swallowed up its largest rival. This means the next time you reach for a plastic or foam cup, you will more than likely be using one of Dart’s long list of products.

When it comes to securing its place atop its industry, there is no doubt Dart has hit the bullseye.

I wonder how the combination of these two companies will affect Dixie Cups, which I think are made by Koch Industries.

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