Jim McLaren’s career in the industry spanned 60 years and he started McLaren Packaging in 1979. He founded the firm from scratch to a £16m company with four sites between Port Glasgow and Stirling. It has a workforce of 110.
McLaren began his career at the age of 21 joining Bowater Packaging in Milngavie as a trainee. At the time Bowater was the largest producer of paper and newsprint in the world. After six years in office-based roles, McLaren went on the road, selling and marketing to mostly whisky accounts in Fife and on the East Coast of Scotland. By 1967 he was in charge of the sales office. He remained at Bowater for 20 years.
After briefly working as the Scottish agent for Encase Packaging in Banbury, he founded McLaren Packaging. He leased a small factory site and began to make corrugate cases for the whisky industry. In the early 1980s, on the back of improvements to the strength of glass bottles, McLaren became the first company in Scotland to produce and sell solid board divisions. By the end of the decade, McLaren Packaging diversified offering into premium food while by the end of the 1990s, the company built a state of the art factory unit in Port Glasgow.
Graham Johnstone, senior director at Velux (a McLaren Packaging customer) said: Jim was excellent in creating this atmosphere of win-win. It was one of the best working/business relationships I have ever experienced. Jim has the amazing skill of making everyone feel good – and he forgets no-one, whether above or below ground.
“A highlight of my business life was when Jim and I would meet every six weeks or so to catch up and chat about our respective businesses. But it went beyond that and became a masterclass on how to create, maintain and develop a business.”
The firm continues to manufacture premium, paper based packaging, primarily for the drinks industry. McLaren Jim coached and supported his sons Donald (managing director) and Michael (sales and marketing director) to run the business.
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