Located in Miami, Florida, South Florida Tissue is a third-generation family owned and operated company that has been providing tissue products since 1997.
In the latest Talk Tissue, Brian Uzcategui chatted with Juan Corzo Jr., Vice President at South Florida Tissue, who shared a little of the company’s history.
“Who really got us into this business was my grandfather. Sixty years ago, he was working for a company called Boise Cascades in Guatemala, Central America, where we’re originally from,” he started. “Long story short, he was an assistant electrician at the paper making company and he did very well.”
Juan’s grandfather climbed up the ladder in the company, got to learn more about the paper business and decided to venture off on his own by starting a paper company in Guatemala.
“In the 90’s, the company grew to 700 to 1.000 employees. They were manufacturing napkins, Away From Home, Toilet paper, retail. They were all over Central America, had their own mill and were producing about 100 tons by manufacturing private label and their own label.”
As the company grew, it got a lot of attention from different people, and some of those people were not so good. Unfortunately, Juan’s father and young brother were kidnaped by a group involved in organized crime in Guatemala, back in 1997.
Everything ended up well, they were able to find who kidnaped them. However, it was safer for the family to lay low during the trial, so they moved to Miami.
“My father, my grandfather and I come from a very hardworking family and, of course, this wasn’t a vacation. He had to do something. The trial could have lasted up to a year and for us even two weeks of not working was too long. So, my father had to start something and sure enough he started South Florida Tissue Paper, in 1997.”
Things were uncertain at the time. The company was founded to keep the family productive, but there was no surety if it was going to be a long-term project. “It was supposed to last as long as the trial lasted,” Juan clarified.
However, things turned out well with the business and they decided it was an opportunity to stay and expand. “Fast forward 24 years, we’re still here and doing great,” Juan said. Ever since the company has grown and now has 9 converting lines.
“We’re at a 130.000 square foot facility, currently trying to expand our building an additional 30.000 square feet and we are buying an additional two lines,” he said. “It took us a lot to come here, and it’s taken a lot of hard work to get to where we’re at.”
During the interview, Juan also shared more about their product mix by explaining they’re mostly known for AFH, but are also going to try to expand the retail business.
South Florida Tissue Paper mainly concentrates its business in America. “95% of our market is in the US, mostly in the southeast and we do some towards the west. 5% would be the Caribbean and Latin America.”
The pandemic hit all business worldwide, and Juan shared some insights on how the company dealt and is still dealing with the effects.
“It’s interesting how the pandemic has tackled the paper industry in the US. Of course, at the beginning it benefited every manufacturer, we all know there was a big shortage of paper that lasts about three or four months. The interesting thing was what was going to happen after it’s over, after the big demand is over and things ‘go back to normal’.”
“Still with Covid, I think politics played a huge role in the paper industry. Depending on the state and on which states are opening up their businesses and which states are closing. It’s pretty much down to if you’re converting in a state where things are open, you’re going to be fine, but if you’re converting in a state where everything is closed, you’re not going to do fine. especially in the AFH industry.”
“We were fortunate that Florida has been very open. I mean, we opened three or four months after the pandemic started. Our governor opened things up very quickly and that allowed us to stay busy.”
Juan also mentions during the interview that South Florida Tissue is also looking for expand their supplier and customer relationships.
Be sure to watch the complete Talk Tissue: