Liberty Diversified International is grateful to be one of Minnesota's largest privately owned companies, with more than 1,700 employees. This spirit of gratitude goes back to 1918, when our founder Jack Fiterman came to America from Russia. He was so thankful for the freedom and opportunity here, that he named his fledgling company Liberty.
Our first business was refurbishing used wooden boxes and burlap bags for resale. You might say we were early to the idea of sustainable packaging. In the 1920s, Jack’s son Ben, who would later become CEO, got his first job with the company “parking” Dan the horse at the end of each busy day.
The next decades saw Jack and Ben lead the transformation of the company from a horse-and-cart operation to a top supplier of corrugated packaging. During the Great Depression, we received another lesson in gratitude as we built key relationships with individuals and companies working together to stay in business.
In 1940, Liberty moved from the Fiterman’s garage to its first building at Third Avenue North in downtown Minneapolis. The 4,000-square-foot facility produced 1,000 corrugated boxes a day. Rent was $10 a month.
By the second half of the century, we were discovering new niches for specialty companies. In 1959, Presentation Packaging was created to serve the decorative packaging market, and Protecta-Pack Systems for transport operations. In 1966, we founded Safco Products to serve the office products market. That same year, Ben Fiterman became our CEO.
In 1972, we reorganized our growing family of companies under the name Liberty Diversified Industries. In 1982, a new 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility was built in Fort Worth, Texas. Diversi-Plast joined the LDI family in 1983. That was also the year Mike Fiterman, grandson of our founder Jack, became president and CEO.
Today, our legacy of giving and gratitude flourishes under Mike’s guidance, as holidays become an occasion for the whole company to pay forward the thanks owed to our extended family of employees, customers and communities. The tradition continues to this day.
Growth accelerated through the 1990s. In 1995, Liberty Paper, Inc. was formed, featuring a state-of-the-art paper mill that recycles old corrugated containers into new paper for packaging. In 2002, we welcomed Service Container Corp. and with it, a factory in Mexico.
In 2008, we updated our name to Liberty Diversified International to better reflect the scope of our operations. New westward expansion included the purchase of San Diego-based Harbor Packaging in 2014, and Omaha Box Company and Miller Container in 2016. Also in 2016, Safco expanded its furniture offerings with Mayline Company, a leading U.S. mid-market contract furniture manufacturer.
2018 marks our 100th year in business. Operations include paper and packaging, point-of-purchase; furniture and organization products for the office; and building and architectural products. Equally important to us is our core values of caring, innovation, trust and excellence, and a long tradition of charitable giving that we highlight in this anniversary year with our focus on gratitude.