Explore our Company History – interactive timeline
The Dart story begins in 1937 with the opening of a small machine shop in Mason, Michigan, by William F. (WF) Dart. This modest business, Dart Manufacturing Company, prospered through the manufacture of such products as plastic key cases, steel tape measures, identification tags for the armed services and children’s toys, including a popular marble race game.
WF’s son, William A. (WA), joined his father in the early 1950s. By the late 1950s, WA and his father shifted their focus to developing a machine that would produce high-quality foam cups from a relatively new material called expandable polystyrene (EPS). In 1960, they shipped their first order, and by 1963 they had changed the name of their company to Dart Container Corporation.
Consumers immediately recognized the benefits of foam cups over the then-popular paper hot cups. These benefits include superior insulation, strength and durability—all provided at a lower cost due to Dart’s unrivaled proprietary technical innovations. Dart’s early success in the foam cup market was further fueled by its commitment, still evident today, to providing our customers with excellent service and products of consistently high quality.
For the past five decades, Dart has met the increasing demand for foodservice packaging products by creating new product lines for the retail/consumer and food packaging industries. To accommodate this tremendous growth in product lines, Dart expanded its presence both in the United States and worldwide. The Dart family continues to lead our company, enabling us to maintain our small-town values and sharp focus on service even as we have grown into a global corporation. Dart’s most recent major expansion came in 2012 with the purchase of Solo Cup Company, a move that doubled the size of the company and greatly expanded the diversity of our product lines, especially in the area of paper products. (Please see our historical timeline for full details of our growth.)
One of the cornerstones of Dart’s success has been our focus on vertical integration, which gives us beginning-to-end control and allows us to better govern costs, quality and service. In many cases, we produce our own raw materials, production equipment, ink and packaging film. We also run our own trucking, sales and recycling operations.
Dart Container has grown from a single 25,000-square-foot plant in Mason, to more than 40 manufacturing and distribution facilities throughout the United States, Canada, England, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.
We make some of the most recognizable brands and products that people use every day in restaurants, hospitals, schools and homes. We manufacture more than 4,000 products, including cups, dinnerware, cutlery, straws and deli and portion containers made from raw materials such as paper, foam and rigid polystyrene and polypropylene, PET and sugarcane—all designed with the features, advantages and benefits our customers need.