For Sheila Vick, a high school job became a lasting legacy and it all unfolded right here in Wilson, North Carolina: home of Southern Container Corporation, which would become a powerhouse agricultural product packaging company.
Here’s the backstory:
Founded in 1958 by James Wright Wiggins and Dolph Overton, Southern Container primarily shipped wood tobacco hogshead, a large barrel used to store and transport prized leaf tobacco. That was the bread and butter of the business, as the town of Wilson was once known as “the world’s greatest tobacco market.” The company quickly became a major supplier of tobacco hogsheads to processing plants domestically and worldwide. Southern Container remains the only hogshead manufacturer in the United States.
Jump ahead to 1962, where 17-year-old Sheila Vick enters the story. That year, the Wilson County native landed a job as a part-time receptionist at Southern Container Corporation. She remained in that position until 1979, when ownership and management was transferred to Vick. The company has been privately-owned and family-run now for nearly 45 years.
Over the decades, the business grew, as did its line of products, expanding to produce packaging for both growers and packers in the U.S. and areas like Central America, South America, Canada and Europe. As Southern Container fondly promotes, “if you can grow it, we can package it!” Their most popular products include tobacco bale sheets and wire, sweet potato packaging, bulk produce bins and a game-changing contraption called “the Busket.”
A problem many farmers faced was finding a vented container durable enough to store their prized produce while allowing airflow. Ms. Vick came up with the solution in 2014 and she named her creation the “Busket.” It’s a cross between a bucket and a basket.
The proprietary design is made of polypropylene and it’s extruded in nearby Kenly, NC. Southern Container sells 1.7 million Buskets each year.
Southern Container knows how crucial agriculture is to North Carolina’s economy. According to the NC Chamber, agribusiness like Southern Container contributes nearly $92 billion to the local economy, representing one-sixth of the state’s overall income. That’s why we are dedicated to the promise of quality packaging products and exceptional customer service.