The truth about Ron Johnson and PACUR

Courtesy of Jud Lounsbury comes this little gem about Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ron Johnson:

PACUR was actually a spin-off company of another plastics company called Curwood, which was co-founded by Howard Curler (Ron Johnson’s father-in-law) in 1958.

Howard Curler was a giant in the plastics industry. In the late 1960s, he led a merger with the huge multinational corporation, the Bemis Company, but stayed on as president of Curwood. From 1978 to the early 1990s, Howard Curler would be CEO of Bemis. (Today, Howard Curler’s son, Jeffrey Curler is president and CEO of the Bemis Company.)

Howard Curler’s other son, Pat Curler, headed-up the spin-off company, which started in 1977 and was named PACUR, as a shortening of Pat Curler’s name. For many years PACUR’s only “client” was “selling” plastic products to parent company, Curwood.

In 1979, when Ron Johnson was 24, he accepted an offer to join his wife’s family’s plastic business, moved to Wisconsin, and worked in the PACUR company under his brother-in-law, Pat Curler.

This is exactly how it happened, but if you just learned about Johnson from media coverage and Johnson’s campaign, you would be led to believe (as I was) that an entreprenurial Johnson was a “self-made man” that started a plastics company in Oshkosh.

For example, the NRSC likes to refer to Johnson as an “entrepreneur” and a on a recent campaign trip to LaCrosse, GOP State Rep. Mike Huebsch introduced Johnson as someone that “built a successful manufacturing company from scratch.”

This is simply not true.

The reality is that Ron Johnson lucked-out by marrying Howard Curler’s daughter, but that doesn’t make him an entrepreneur and a business-dynamo, that makes him lucky.

So here’s two incontrovertible facts about Ron Johnson and PACUR:

  • PACUR was founded in 1977 in Wisconsin by Pat Curley
  • Ron Johnson and his wife (Pat Curley’s sister) didn’t move to Wisconsin until 1979

So if PACUR was founded in 1977 in Wisconsin and Ron Johnson didn’t move to Wisconsin until 1979, how could Ron Johnson have “founded” PACUR, as his official bio indicates?

I’d love to hear someone explain how Ron Johnson could have founded a company in a state he didn’t move to until two years after the company was supposedly founded by a completely different person.


Related Articles

62 thoughts on “The truth about Ron Johnson and PACUR

  1. Can’t Wait to see how Johnson’s press Dude/Blogger/Future Customs Attorney Binversie trys to Spin This. I see he’s now protected his tweets,
    so they must close to the boiling point in the Johnson Campaign.

  2. I know this is some incredibly complex stuff, and the answers are very tough to find, so if you’re confused, you may want to focus all of your attention:

    In 1977, Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies (WISS) was established in New London, WI. WISS manufactured pallets and distributed other shipping supply products from its New London facility. In 1979 WISS was restructured and renamed Pacur, Inc. when it built its plastic extrusion facility in Oshkosh, WI. The shipping supplies portion of the business was eventually sold.

    It took a ton of research…I had to actually type in the name in a web browser to discover this.

  3. To me anyone who works hard to grow a business is the type of person we need fighting for the state of WI and it’s citizens back in Washington. We need to get new blood in there and stop the career politicians who are more worried about their own needs vs. those of their constituents.

    1. The other thing – the older I get, the more cynical I become over the whole argument against term limits that it pushes out politicians just as they start to get good & become effective. The only thing they get better at over the years is bilking the taxpayers out of more money for pet projects. And so long as it’s applied uniformly to all of Congress (though obviously different limits for House & Senate seats would be fine), the “effectiveness” as most people define it, ie how good they are at bringing home the bacon would be fair to all.

      I’d love to see being a member of Congress eliminated as a long-term/lifelong career. Does anyone want to give me one good reason not to? Some way we would be worse off as citizens?

        1. He got a loan for $4 million. It was subsidized thru the govt. Probably paid 2% a year less because of his govt subsidy. If it was a 5 year loan – 2% of 4 million for 5 years is $400,000.
          Is that a bad thing? It is according to Ron Johnson – it’s the same as the bailout to GM. It is an even bigger problem for his competitors who had to get by w/o the govt subsidy. But now – he wants – now that he has made his money – he thinks that the govt should not help business. That makes him a dishonest hypocrite. thats NOT what we need in Congress.

          1. It was subsidized thru the govt. Probably paid 2% a year less because of his govt subsidy. If it was a 5 year loan – 2% of 4 million for 5 years is $400,000.

            A lot of guessing there. And not at all true. A subsidized government loan would mean they government gave the company money and charged them a lower than market interest rate. That’s not at all what those bonds are.

            Who bought the bonds? Private individuals and companies.
            Who paid the interest on the bonds? PACUR.
            Who’d they pay it to? To the individuals who bought them, not the government.

            The government involvement was to help facilitate the process, and by making them state tax-exempt, the state is making them more attractive and “giving up” some of the taxes it would otherwise have collected on them.

            Calling it a government subsidized loan or that the government “gave” him money is inaccurate and dishonest.

            1. It is a subsidy – and a subsidy is when you get cash or cash equivilent from the government. Which is what they received. They got loans witha lower interest rate – a great benefit to them and a GREAT disadvantage to their competition. It is govt picking the winners and the losers in the economy. You might think that is a good thing. Fine. The problem is – he gets on the TV – spending his money that he made with the help of govt financing – and yes, if the govt sets up the loan, you can call it that – and rails against govt and how govt does not create jobs. THATS what makes him a lying hypocrite. Of course – the fact that he will say that govt does not create jobs in one breath and then says send me to Washington so I can keep jobs in Wisconsin in the next breath – will hopefully be illogical enough to the majority of voters in November, that he will be back in Oshkosh looking for ways to use the govt to make more money.

            2. And he got the government to run a rail line to his business. Government paid for the rail line. Sooooooo. Who’s taking government money.

      1. and if you married the bosses daughter , that would help to grow a successful business too.

    2. yeah, i can imagine how hard he worked to ingratiate himself with the daughter of a completely rich magnate of a plastics mfg company so that he would never actually have to raise a finger in real work for his whole life. all one needs to do is follow the massive amounts of money that are spent on these campaigns and who is providing it. not too easy to do. it’s very hard to read that fine print at the bottom of those commercials depicting everyone who is in office now as the devil himself, excepting if they are republican.

  4. JD- Exactly. Most of us could do well with that dowry and special treatment. RoJo’s got the same problem that trust funders and other nouveau riche have- they think their good luck is entirely earned, and thinks it means that they must be a difference-maker.

    In fact, he is proving himself more than ordinary with his silly statements, negative campaign, and constant walkbacks, and he is well on his way to getting thumped this November. Too bad for him that he’ll be the last to know, and will toss away millions in the process instead of using that money to actually be the job-creator in Wisconsin he claims to be. But you know what they say about a fool and his money…

  5. I worked at one of those “Howard Curler” factories in Oshkosh in the 1990’s. First in the factory and then in the office for a total of six years. Our company’s name was Centracor. Our Curler son (owner) was Mike Curler. When I started in 1993, we did 80% of our sales from Bemis. When I left in 1999 we still did 80% of our sales with Bemis. Outside of doing business with Bemis, they really couldn’t grow the company. And the business we did with Bemis was originally provided to Bemis by a company called Hayes Manufacturing (not a Curler family company)in a city 10 miles north of Oshkosh. Centracor’s existence didn’t provide “new jobs”. It just took business and jobs away from Hayes Manufacturing – moving jobs around in the same county. The late Howard Curler helped set up factories for many of his children. The reason I won’t vote for Ron Johnson is because in my six years in a “Curler Family factory” our employee turnover in the factory was 25% every year during those six years. And some people at Centracor that I worked with would tell me during some rough days in the factory – “you think this place is bad to work at, at least we don’t work at Pacur”. I’m not making that up!!

  6. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve never met Ron Johnson, nor do I have any first hand knowledge of him, but my family has worked with and for Howard and Jeff Curler. Their plants and facilities employ a fairly large portion of the town where I grew up.

    It really pains me to read the muckraking, unsubstantiated claims and outright lies spread about the Curler family. Howard was a kind, decent person in addition to being a true innovator in his field. He helped build an industry where there had been none, and aside from creating tens of thousands of jobs, their products and innovations in food and medical packaging have literally saved lives. Where nearly every major corporation in the state has moved it’s corporate headquarters out of state, Jeff actually did the opposite, moving the Bemis corporate HQ into the state.

    Obviously I could go on, but won’t. This all has nothing to do with what sort of person or Senator Ron Johnson will be – which is exactly my point. We wonder why the majority of the public hates politics and politicians? Why quality individuals don’t get involved and we end up with a high percentage of corrupt slimeballs running our country? This is exactly why. People like “their guy” and will do whatever it takes, including slander and make up lies about a person and worse, his or her family in order to win.

    1. we aren’t taking about Mr. Curler and he isn’t trying to represent us in congress. where is the lie in any of this????

  7. Locke –
    Pacur received $4 million from loans backed by Industrial Development Revenue Bonds. The investors, those that purchase these low yield bonds, receive tax free interest yield and sales. In turn, like municipal bonds, the investors accept both the risk but receive tax free income. In turn, the loan was made available to Pacur only because local and state government has such programs to benefit small and growing businesses. The cost to Pacur in the free market would be more than 2% annually greater on average. Based on their books, that could be upwards of 4% higher (depending on risk). Also, WISS a $75,000 grant (pre Johnson) to build a rail spur to their facility. In the end, they used state subsidized railways to move their products too.

    The kicker here is that Pacur, under the direction of Ron Johnson, employed State and Local Government workers in order to save themselves no less than $80,000 (and probably much more) and used an additional $75,000 in giveaways to benefit their business. So, in essence, Ron took business away from local free market banking thus causing a potential loss in revenue and loss in banking jobs while using state funds to fund construction jobs (railway).

    No matter how you slice it, his statements and premise are hypocritical to his message. Disingenuous no matter how you slice it.

    1. Great question. This is what I would like to know as well. How does Johnson treat his peons. Because I don’t want to support a business owner that doesn’t pay his employees top dollar with top benefits. Because thats what is killing America, our working class is no longer our middle class. They can no longer pay for the things they make. I’m one of them been at the same pay rate for a decade, all that time while advancing my knowledge and skills for nothing, only to decrees on a socioeconomic scale.

    1. One Curwood plant is in New London & that’s where it was originally formed by Howard Curler & Bob Woods. Ultimately it grew & was bought by Bemis with Curler eventually taking over as President & CEO. There are other Curwood locations in Oshkosh & Appleton, and there are a few other Bemis companies in New London as well.

      Just under 4000 employees in Wisconsin, most in the Fox Valley area.

      The Post Crescent just did a profile on Curwood.

      There have been large number of spin-offs (most by employees or former employees, not family members), independent start-ups and at times some of them have been acquired or re-acquired when the company felt vertical integration was beneficial to lower risk and/or decrease costs. Despite what’s been implied, rather than nepotism, it’s probably more fair to say that there has been a culture of entrepreneurship – from the very beginning the two founders met while working for another company & left put their complimentary skills & knowledge together to create a new venture.

      Anyway, I’ll add a disclaimer again – this all has almost nothing to do with what sort of Congressman Ron Johnson could be.

  8. LOCKE – It absolutely has to do with what Ron Johnson would act like as a Senator. He is the teabagger-type but has no problem with government-subsidies loans for his biz.

    As far as your contention that everyone likes “their guy” and isn’t being objective. What do you think about the loan (the $75K was an outright grant).

    1. OK you’re right, because you called him a tea-bagger that makes it true. You’ve won your point and I can’t refute that logic.

  9. Ron Johnson apologists, here is another example of how Johnson would act as a senator:

    “Pacur is a non-union plant and is dedicated to stay that way.”

    Direct from the Pacur Employee Manual. That must be a great place to work.

  10. A non union shop hay! Well that about says it for me any way. A business man who wants cheep labor, well I won’t be that labor. I want good jobs not just any old crappy job that can’t pay my bills and offers very unaffordable heath care, I got one of those all ready. I thought We where supposed to be the state of Forward, of progress, not of the same old status Que. Look All Ron wants is to get in the government so he can make it work for him, for his business, not for us, not for the people. I’ll take a career politician over someone who spent the last thirty years marginalizing people as nothing more then production coasts. Thats a bit harsh I know but come on people.

  11. Ya sure, go unions. Look what it did to GM & Chrysler. I’m surrounded by Ex-GMers and what I noticed most during GM’s better years was their anti-company attitude & their eternal distain for management similar to a tough-guy attitude of a high-schooler. They were constantly bragging how little work they they had to do for their paycheck and how they could never be fired. My point is that the cooperative concept of unions in theory is a good thing but in reality does not build an efficient work force (except for possibly the Trades). How can you fault someone for looking for the best labor solution for his/her business? And if you want a better job with better benefits then do something other than btcih like get an education.

    1. Yah Randy because it so easy to just go get a better job, I forgot how abundant they are. Look you make a decent point it has validity. But no need for the education shot, thats just mean, not to mention a huge assumption. I have worked with many people that do have degrees and for what ever reason the chose the trades. Also after exhausting all my other options and resources I have returned to school to gain a bachelors degree (I have an associates degree). How ever I will be in a huge financial hole when I’m done. And a degree does not guarantee a good job. I’m not looking for a hand out I have worked my butt off for this company, I went a whole year averaging 55 hours a week (10 saturdays in a row) with only one week of paid vacation. If Johnson has all this money to speed on his campaign I think he could have afforded to throw say a few thousand dollars back at the work force that made that profit possible. May be If one does not want to pay top dollar for their labor they should think twice about starting a company. I could go a lot deeper with this, but I don’t want to write an essay. All I’m saying simply is that I believe that working people should be able to make a good living and not have to worry about making ends meet. It’s just one persons opinion you have every right to disagree if you would like, but the assumptions and attacking don’t help your case.

      1. A couple of things. First, it seems you’re assuming when Randy said “education” he meant in a very narrow sense – college bachelor’s degree. Could well be that was what he meant. I read it as – get training to improve your knowledge and/or skills to make yourself more marketable. I won’t say you’re wrong, or that I’m right. I don’t think there’s enough context to know. Guess I’m a glass half full kind of guy.

        Second, you’re making assumptions about PACUR, how it’s run and how employees are paid and valued that aren’t publicly known. If you know people who work there, I’ll defer to what you know, but if not, well you know what they say about assuming things. The other thing – I don’t think you can say at all that just because a company has non-union labor, the owner pays less, doesn’t give a crap about his employees, etc. I know a lot of people around here think that, but it’s just plain BS. Plenty of owners pay their employees as well as they can afford and everyone does well. Fact of the matter is, good management makes a union irrelevant – they will strive to deliver the best product for their customers, treasure their employees for the lifeblood of the company they usually are and eliminating the “middle man” can benefit everyone.

    2. oh! it was the unions negotiating decent wages and benefits for their workers that brought GM and the US auto market to it’s present state! Here and I thought it was the stodgy and antiquated management style and the top heavy refusal to change their operating procedures. Of course they did become a multinational entity in the meantime, so that their US market share has little to do with their total profitability.

  12. Oh I did not realize that going to school was not going to improve my knowledge, skills and marketability, dang now I have to rethink everything. The only assumption I came away with was one of felling personally attacked about my level of intelligence and education. Also that I’m supposed to “pick my self up by the bootstraps” and turn my life around all by my self. Even basic skills training cost time and money, two things that most (not all) working people have a shortage of. Every one needs help once in awhile, a leg up (similar to the one Johnson got from his in-laws). I have never meet a single successful person (and I know quite a few) that wouldn’t immediately thank or point out someone or some instance that helped them get to where they are now. Also I’m well aware that there are good companies out there that treat their employees very well. However there are also crap companies that would treat their employees like they didn’t exist if they could. I have had the pleasure of working for both in my life time. Some one has to keep those bad seed in check Poverty does not help any of us. To my knowledge the only people that unions have ever hurt is the corporate bosses and CEO’s of large companies. Now if your on their side well so be it you have that right. Personally I’m hear to fight for the working man and if thats you then I’m on your side.

    1. Oh I did not realize that going to school was not going to improve my knowledge, skills and marketability, dang now I have to rethink everything.

      Could you please explain to me how you could possibly have read what was written to mean that? Where did I say anything resembling that?

  13. Four million dollars campaign on a job that pays a couple hundred throusand a year, at best. What a great , giving citizen – a real american, but a lousy CEO! He said he is an accountant by trade, I wonder how he would have advised his clients on that business decision. Don’t we all realize that he is doing it for us. If he is such a wonderful person, I’m sure his employees will understand that what he is sending that is his is helping the citizens of Wisconsin and can’t go in their paychecks.
    What did he do before he ended up on our doorstep with a sack of money (His?, Teaparty – ? doubt it, RNC – that’s got me vote). Oh, that right he is his own man – horsepucky!! What is the ratio of his salary to his workers – that right he is the one making the plastic rolls and taking all the risks! Does he provide health insurance for all those employees coming to his support with testimonials?

  14. Tim, you have a bad case of class envy. Get over it. Why do all you lefties hate successful business owners? His business has been good to him and he wants a new challenge as well as the opportunity to do what he feels is right for his family and his country. Thank goodness Obama and his henchmen provided the catalyst that motivated so many principled citizens like Ron Johnson to run for office.

Comments are closed.