In 1959, the combined assets and efforts of Bob and Barbara Stewart resulted in the purchase of a bag machine and the beginning of a new venture- Stewart Bag Company.
The first employee of the company, Wayne Storms, brought in an order from Dixie Poultry Processors for giblet bags, the first order Stewart Bag Company shipped. Among the original employees were salesman, Garth Stewart; packer, Lena Stewart; and secretary, Dee Osterling. In December of 1960, the company moved to a 5,000 sq. ft. factory building built by Andrew Schmidt in Vicksburg, Michigan. The two-acre site had room for growth. Only a short time elapsed before that growth potential became necessary. Along with the new additions came a new partner by the name of Louis W. Sutherland who joined the Company in 1960, from hence forth it would be known as Stewart Sutherland Bag Company.
In 1961, another bag machine was purchased and the building underwent its first of five expansions. By 1964, the company was running one and a half million bags a day on three machines. The rapid expansion of business necessitated a 7,000 sq. ft. addition, which would almost double the floor-space of the plant. The addition would accommodate three new machines, the first of which was to be shipped from Germany that November. Over the next ten years, the company prospered in consort with the growing bakery business and erupting fast food industry and had expanded their floor plan to over 45,000 sq. ft. By 1983, the latest of five additions was completed. This addition of warehouse space brought the total Stewart Sutherland’s facility in Vicksburg to 100,000 sq. ft.
In September of 1983, the corporation elected new officers. John Stewart, who joined the company as a salesman in 1976, was named President. Stewart Sutherland remains a family-owned company with John and Patricia Stewart at its head, assisted by Vice President and Manager, Tom Farrell and a highly capable staff of individuals who strive to please the customer in this constantly changing market.
For the last 49 years, Stewart Sutherland has met the needs of their customers, employees and employees’ families. Their ability to adapt has stood the test of time and will help the company to grow in the future. Today, what once was only a dream of Bob and Barbara Stewart’s is now among the top five plants in the U.S. for our industry.
Our Founders: Bob and Barbara Stewart
One of the First Presses at Stewart Sutherland
Bob Stewart and Lou Sutherland