History of Midland Paper


Incorporated in 1907 by E.S. Rookes, the original Midland Paper was solely a Chicago-based paper distribution operation. Control was held in a New York railway supply company until 1935, when Zellerbach Paper Company purchased Midland Paper to operate as its own division. When Zellerbach limited distribution to cities west of the Rocky Mountains in 1945, private investors purchased Midland. It has been privately held ever since.


In 1983, CEO Stan Hooker and then-executive vice president Frank Morley acquired Midland. Their plan was to establish a customer-centric, service-based operation to support the large Chicago printer market. Their vision quickly expanded, and the resulting growth initiative gained rapid speed through strategic planning and acquisition. From that original location on North Pulaski Street to the opening of more offices around the upper Midwest, Midland’s core mission of building an experienced team and providing outstanding service with deep inventory has kept the company growing.


The entrepreneurial mindset got a boost with the hiring of new partners Ralph DeLetto, Mike Graves and Jim O’Toole in the early 2000s. A goal was  the strategic expansion of the Midland National segment and the establishment of dedicated packaging and a specialty papers and films segment. In this period, Midland saw its revenues triple and its footprint expand to all of the Upper Midwest and sales offices on the east and west coast.


At the end of 2017, Stan Hooker, the company’s long-time Chairman & CEO, retired and sold his majority interest to his three partners, Ralph DeLetto, Mike Graves, and Jim O’Toole.  This transition allows the company to continue its long tradition of being the leading independent paper and packaging distribution company in North America.  Mr. Hooker said: “The timing of this transition is good for me personally, as my wife and I can devote more time to being with our friends and family, and the timing is good for Midland given the company’s strong financial position and its proven senior leadership team at the helm”.


Midland now serves a National market with its corporate headquarters in Wheeling, Illinois, distribution centers throughout the Midwest, and sales offices from coast to coast.

The key has always been bringing together the best people to grow the business and never being timid about investing in the future.

The results speak for themselves. In 1983, Midland generated annual sales of $14 million. Revenues now are $1 Billion. Midland ranks as one of Chicago’s Top 50 Private Companies and is one of America’s largest independent paper and packaging distribution firms.

Midland didn’t get to where it is without doing things right, and the continued commitment to its customers, suppliers and employees has Midland poised for a bright future.

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