The Royal Story

It’s been a long road from those early days in 1949, when Kurt Strauss, an immigrant from Dierdorf, Germany, began manufacturing paper coffee and beverage coasters in a converted garage in Coatesville, Pennsylvania.

From its humble roots, Royal Paper Products, Inc. is today, the leading importer and supplier of over 1,000 disposable products for the foodservice, hospitality and janitorial industries, and sells through a growing army of distributors, brokers and a sales force throughout the U.S. and abroad.

“He was a true entrepreneur who inspired his family and all those who knew him,” says David Milberg, President of Royal Paper Products, Inc.  and grandson of the founder. “His dream that became Royal Paper Products started with one product - paper coffee coasters- that were commonly used in Germany, but hard to find in the U.S.”

With borrowed money from his father-in-law, Strauss, along with his business partner and brother-in-law, Harold Krasnick, began to manufacture and sell disposable paper coasters in the former Breuninger creamery, located on Hope Ave, in Coatesville, PA.

“The rest, as they say, is history,” reflects Milberg.

By 1957, Royal Paper Products was selling millions of catch-all coasters to thousands of restaurants, hotels, taverns, diners and eating establishments through distributors nationwide.

Foreseeing a growing demand for new items, and cramped for space, Royal Paper Products opened its second plant on Caln Rd, not far from the original plant that continued to manufacture its mainstay paper coasters.

The new, one-story, 16,400 square ft. plant manufactured a line of patented placemats, adult and baby bibs, placemats and bathmats that serviced food establishment and motels throughout the countries network of distributors.

During that first decade Kurt Strauss wore many hats in both production and sales, growing the business with skill and persistence.

“We’re told that when he spotted a truck from a local distributor he’d flag down the driver and ask for the name of the company buyer to make a personal sales call,” recalls Milberg. “This tenacity and adaptability is in our blood and continues to motivate us to offer the best quality products and personalized service to our customers.”

By the late fifties the partnership dissolved, with Kurt Strauss acquiring sole ownership.

Milberg explains that in the early sixties “my father, Barry Milberg, who was Kurt’s son-in-law, moved to Coatesville and joined the company.” With a business background, he immersed himself in all aspects of the manufacturing process and attended industry trade shows to learn new products.

“When Dad attended the trade shows and saw numerous items and suppliers, he was inspired to shape the company as ‘the home for one-stop shopping’ for customers purchasing as little as one case of an item, to a full truckload, with an emphasis on exceptional customer service.”

Milberg emphasizes that this credo “continues to be the backbone of the company and is the key to our success.”

As Barry shifted the focus of the company from solely manufacturing to importing disposables for the foodservice and hospitality industry, Royal became one of the first importers in the U.S. of woodenware expendables like toothpicks, skewers, frills and more.

Today, Royal imports disposables from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and India and offers a container program with factory direct pricing and options for customized items that meet customer requests.

Those early years were a “family affair” as extended family members joined the company and brought talent and expertise to the table.

In 1975, Barry’s brother, Alan, joined the company supporting operations and further developed the sales department through the use of technology. Alan’s combined sales skills and technological foresight allowed Royal to emerge as a leading national supplier through the 1980’s. Alan served as VP of Sales for over 20 years, and was named President in 1997 - until he retired in 2000.

In 1981, Barry’s 15 year-old son, David, was learning the business from the ground up, working part-time sweeping floors and unloading containers.

Upon graduating from college, both David and his sister, Helaine, had joined Royal Paper Products full time.

“There was never a question what I wanted to do with my life. My skill set was efficiency and organization so I was tasked with streamlining our complete business process,” Milberg explains.

He adds that the company was fortunate to have his sister, Helaine, at the helm of finances as the company controller. “She oversaw complex corporate financial activities with acumen and excellence.”

Helaine’s husband, Fred Leibowitz, joined Royal in 1992 as national sales manager and later, as Royal’s executive vice-president, oversaw all external operations. “Fred built Royal into a world-class sales force that’s second-to-none.”

Today, in addition to David, the multi-generational family business includes Alan Milberg’s sons, Scott and Adam. Scott, who joined the company in 2001, is vice-president of sales, and Adam, who joined in 2006, is vice-president of purchasing.

Milberg emphasized that only 12% of family businesses make it to the 3rd generation and “we are poised to make it to a 4th.” He stated this was due to the importance their family places on the continuity and growth of the Royal legacy among the younger generation.

“Without ‘youth’ constantly challenging the status quo, you run the risk of becoming complacent and losing your competitive advantage in the marketplace. My cousins, Scott and Adam, have done exactly that - and it will be under their leadership that guides our company to the next generation.”

David Milberg reflects that his father instilled in him three keys to success: provide customers a “home” for one-stop shopping; value your employees; and provide the finest personalized customer service.

“Our company culture reflects my father’s deep-seated family values and customer-focus philosophy that pervade every facet of the company. We make certain that our customers receive first-class service starting from our initial sales contact, through our consistently exceptional customer service. Every new and returning customer deserves our very best,” explains Milberg.

Emphasizing the company’s family values and high standards, when the company transitioned from manufacturing, not a single employee was laid off. Instead they were cross-trained, gaining valuable job skills for new positions.

“We’re a company that looks after our employees and see them as part of “the Royal family,” Milberg continues. “They work hard during the week, giving 110 % each day, so we appreciate and reward them with a four-day work week, company-paid family picnics, special outings and events, and a great benefits package.”

Supplying a broad array of products servicing the foodservice, hospitality, and janitorial industries, Royal Paper Products continues to uphold its mission to offer the finest products and incomparable service.

“My father stayed with the company until 1997, handed over the keys, and entrusted us with upholding Royal’s family values and key principles,” reflects Milberg. “Our family and every employee continue to honor that dream with commitment, passion and excellence.”