James Kress was born on June 11, 1929, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. He received his bachelor degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1951.
In 1958 Mr. Kress assumed leadership of operations for Green Bay Packaging. He became president and director in 1963, taking over the company founded by his father, George F. Kress. He then became chairman in 1995. During his 54-year tenure, Green Bay Packaging grew from 640 employees and four divisions to 2,632 employees and 24 divisions. Today he continues as chairman of the board of the largest privately-held corrugated manufacturer in the United States.
During Mr. Kress’ tenure, he believed that the company’s products could be produced in a more ecologically-responsible manner. The Green Bay Mill closed its pulp mill in 1991 and began production of linerboard and corrugated medium from 100% recycled fiber. The conversion allowed the company to recycle more than 400,000 tons of wastepaper annually. Numerous other companies have followed Green Bay Packaging’s lead in the production of linerboard made with wastepaper.
The company’s Green Bay Mill permanently converted to a closed water system in 1992, making it one of the first mills in the world to have such a system.
James Kress is married to Julie-Anne Kress. He has four children (William, John, Meg Kress Grunwald, and Ginny Kress) and five step-children (Michael Van Laanen, Allain Van Laanen, Jennifer Christie, Susan Reinfeldt, and Mary Smith).