by Alison Bailey
Few know that there is a facility on Fones Road that produces over five million aluminum beverage cans per day. Crown Beverage Packaging is a quiet leader in manufacturing excellence here in Thurston County and has been for over 60 years. Established to can for the Olympia Brewing Company in the late 1950s, Crown currently employs 118 full-time team members and cans beverages for producers all over the continent. They’re especially proud to can for PepsiCo Northwest Beverages right here in Tumwater.
By the third quarter of 2021, Olympia’s Crown plant will have added an entirely new production line, hired an additional 40 employees and upped production to nine million cans per day. “The demand for aluminum beverage cans is higher than it’s been in the past,” explains Tony Ellison, the plant’s superintendent. “Honestly, we’re having a little trouble keeping up.”
This level of growth requires an updated and expanded facility. Construction is well underway to increase their plant’s footprint by nearly 20,000 square feet. Crown is working with contractors from around the South Sound, including Christensen Inc. General Contractors right here in Tumwater.
The City of Olympia, the Thurston Economic Development Council (EDC) and the Thurston County Chamber have been supportive of Crown’s expansion. The Thurston County Chamber and Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council have helped Crown expand their workforce. Late last year, the Chamber helped Crown host its first virtual job fair.
“The majority of the positions we’re hiring are for what we call Maintainers,” Ellison explains. “These are the individuals responsible for the maintenance and operation of the can making equipment on the floor.” These are hands-on, detail-oriented, well-paying union positions. Crown runs four 12-hour shifts, so all hours worked over the standard eight are paid at time and a half. Employees who work night shifts are paid an additional five percent.
This is the kind of workforce expansion Thurston County loves to see, especially on the part of a leader in manufacturing excellence like Crown Cork. “One of the things I’m most proud of is the strides this company is making from an environmental and sustainability perspective,” Ellison says. Last October, The Wall Street Journal released a comprehensive list of corporate leaders in sustainability. They assessed over 5,500 companies and Crown Cork landed at number 93.
By the fall, Crown will be a nearly 160-person operation humming 24 hours a day, seven days a week right here in Thurston County. That’s 40 more individuals bringing home a fair living wage to pay their living expenses and contribute to the local economy when they choose to patronize Thurston County restaurants, retailers and other small businesses.
If you or anyone you know might be interested in starting a career at Crown, they can visit crowncork.com/careers and search “Olympia” to view current opportunities. Check back often because this leader in manufacturing is expanding our workforce!
“Businesses such as Crown are an excellent example of how a company can grow and thrive when local partners wrap-around support for them. Our partnerships with Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, WorkSource and Career Connect Washington empower our Business Solutions Team to assist employers with their recruitment, training and retention strategies,” said Megan Fiess, VP of Workforce and Strategic Initiatives at the Thurston Chamber. “We’ve enjoyed assisting Crown with their expansion and look forward to helping grow their career pathways and on-the-job training programs.”