The company produces one and a half billion chip cartons a year for clients including McDonald's, Kellogg's and Jacob's Cream Crackers and Cross has invested £40m into the company in the last 34 years.
Opened a factory in Gliwice, Poland, in June
Delta currently employs around 270 staff at its 27,870m² headquarters in Belfast and 30 at its factory in Gliwice, Poland, which opened in June 2015.
Cross, who is president of the British Red Cross in Northern Ireland and volunteers for the Integrated Education Fund, The Prince’s Trust and Children in Crossfire, told BakeryandSnacks he was delighted to accept the honour, not just for his own efforts, but for those of his directors and staff who have contributed to its success.
He also takes part in the West Belfast Partnership Boards, West Belfast Enterprise Council and The Ireland Funds.
He established Delta Print in 1981, above a corner shop in Belfast to manufacture business cards, letter headed paper and local civil service forms. From here, the business grew into a 5,000 sq ft workshop and then 17,000 sq ft factory in West Belfast.
Prior to that, Cross was a buyer for FG Wilson Engineering and Strathearn Audio before investing in some Gestetner litho presses, a guillotine, typesetter and saddle-stitching equipment.
“I started out with some very basic equipment and we had some indigenous growth over a number of years, moving from one factory to another. We also got some valuable support from Invest Northern Ireland,” added Cross.
In 2014, Delta expanded its production capabilities in Belfast with a £20m 55,000 sq ft factory, hi-definition rotary flexographic CI press with downstream obverse and reverse functional barrier coating capability (running reel-to-reel), rotary die-cutting and large format platen options. It plans to expand its capability even further by 2017.
'International expansion is critical to the ongoing success of Belfast'
Machinery installed over the past 12 months includes two Heidelberg Speedmasters, an XL 145 and an XL 106, a KBA-Flexotecnica web press, a Pasaban sheeter, a Komori rotary die-cutter, two large-format Bobst die-cutters and Bobst gluing equipment.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in September, Cross said international expansion is critical to the ongoing success of Belfast.
"By becoming global we create stability. Jobs may be created outside Northern Ireland but these only go towards enhancing operations here. We have to be global to survive," he added.
As such, Delta opened a factory in Poland in June under the name European Packaging Solutions (EPS) to expand its European supply chain network supplying folding and nested carton products to major European Brands.
EPS Poland occupies a purpose-built 10,000m² facility that encompasses both rotary flexographic and sheet-fed lithographic printing technologies, in-line functional barrier coating capability and gluing & finishing options.
Cross said he sees EPS as the go-to supplier of cartons in Europe, with a workforce of 100 people and sales of €30m (£22m) by 2020.
Other plans include expanding Stora Enso Inpac Delta India (SEIDI), a manufacturing partnership with Stora Enso Inpac in Chennai, Southern India for folding cartons, litho-laminated cartons and corrugated packaging in the sub-continent and beyond as it increases capacity of its two BRC/IOP accredited plants in Tamilnadu.