More details are coming out regarding NewPage’s decision to close the Whiting Mill.
Whiting was chosen out of the company’s four mills — including Biron, Escanaba, Mich., and Rumford, Maine — that produce similar products because it has the highest cost per ton of paper within NewPage, Mark Lukacs, senior vice president of operations, said. Without its own pulp mill, Whiting had to bring in materials from other facilities.
The Daily-Herald reports that demand for coated groundwood and coated freesheet paper has been declining for some time. In years past, the company had relied on temporary shutdowns of the mill, which has two paper machines and produces about 250,000 tons of paper a year, to cut costs. The company is the largest manufacturer of coated paper in North America, with $3.1 billion in net sales for 2009.
The Wausau Daily-Herald reports that other mills are “rattled” but are faring better:
At Mosinee-based Wausau Paper, the company has continued to specialize, even before the recession, with an emphasis on niche-specific products that range from paper used in crafts to tissue made outside of Wisconsin. A Domtar spokesman declined to comment on the Whiting closure or state of the industry.
Based on an increase in earnings, including the highest in 10 years in 2009, a Wausau Paper spokesman said there is reason to be optimistic about the demand for the company’s paper.
Hopefully, product diversity keeps Wisconsin’s proud paper industry growing.