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Management Side
Neenah Paper to Close Mill
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Fitchburg, Massachusetts, USA 28 September 2015 -- (From the Sentinel & Enterprise) -- After 43 years of operation, Crocker Technical Papers will close before the end of the year, leaving about 40 of its employees without jobs, according to a spokesman with Neenah Paper Inc., which owns the specialty-paper mill.

"The operation is just not sustainable or efficient," said Bill McCarthy, vice president of financial planning and analysis and investor relations for Neenah Paper. "We expect operations to cease sometime in the fourth quarter."

He also said the paper mill, which produces multilayered papers, boards and specialty papers used for protecting important documents, has been operating on a limited schedule for several months.

Mayor Lisa Wong described the last two years for Crocker "as a bit of a roller coaster," and confirmed that the city was alerted to the mill's closing a few weeks ago.

Crocker, which reverted into private ownership in 1972 after nearly a century of producing paper products on Westminster Street in West Fitchburg, was purchased by West Springfield-based FiberMark in July 2014. FiberMark was then acquired by the Atlanta-based Neenah Paper Inc., last month.

McCarthy and Wong said the mill's employees have been told of its imminent closing.

"We're working with the state's transition team to help the employees any way we can," said Wong, which was echoed by McCarthy.

"We're helping find (our workers) services, which they use to find new employment," McCarthy said.

While the decision has been made by Neenah to close the mill, McCarthy said his company is "still very much open to a sale."

However, he said that because Neenah doesn't own the property or the building where the mill operates, attracting potential buyers has been a challenge.

"We've not been able to reach an agreement with the landlord," McCarthy said.

According to city property records, the building and property are owned by Westminster-based Anlar Realty Inc. The registered owner is Larry Gelsomini, former president of Crocker before it was purchased by FiberMark last year.

Attempts to contact Gelsomini were unsuccessful.

The location of the paper mill has a long history.

Situated on the Nashua River, the building originally housed The Whitman & Miles Manufacturing Company, a manufacturer of horse-drawn mowing machinery, according a press release from FiberMark when it announced the acquisition of Crocker in 2014.

In 1878, the facility was converted to manufacturing wood pulp for cylinder bristols. It eventually became Mill No. 6 within a complex of 10 Crocker Burbank Company mills, according to the release.

In 1963, Weyerheauser Corporation bought Crocker Burbank. It then sold most of the business in 1972 to the relatively new James River Corporation. Crocker Technical Papers (Mill No. 6), however, reverted to private ownership and remained so until FiberMark acquired it in 2014.

Once Crocker Technical Papers closes, the city will have one paper mill still in operation, Newark America, which is a subsidiary of Miami-based Caraustar. It produces tube, core, bending, plain and partition chip, linerboard and header stock, according to the Caraustar website.

 

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