Patriarch Partners' paper mill in Gorham, New Hampshire, expects to have 100 ton/year tissue paper machine it will buy in Italy for US$35M operating by end of September 2012, will be key to mill's profitability, says mill manager

LOS ANGELES , December 20, 2011 () – The former Fraser Paper mill in Gorham, New Hampshire, is moving toward profitability by cutting costs and increasing revenue, according to mill officials and employees, reported New Hampshire Public Radio (NHPR) on Dec. 19.

Its latest move, which is key to the mill’s long-term success, is the installation of a tissue paper machine that can produce 100 tons per year, said Mill Manager Willis Blevins. The mill plans to sell to private label brands in the Northeast.

The machine, which will be bought in Italy for US$35 million, will be operating by the end of next September. It will produce tissue, toweling and napkins for home use, said Rino Dumont, project manager for the new machine, NHRP reported.

After being idled for eight months by Fraser Paper, the mill was restarted in June as Gorham Paper and Tissue under the new ownership of New York-based Patriarch Partners, an investment firm.

Two of the mill’s main challenges to becoming profitable were the high costs of fiber and energy, reported NHPR.

Patriarch Partners has since installed a natural gas line, allowing the mill to use natural gas, instead of No. 6 heating oil, to make steam for the paper machines, Blevins said, noting that the switch has saved “a huge amount of money.”

The mill also gets its fiber from the Old Town Fuel and Fiber plant in Maine, another facility owned by Patriarch Partners, NHPR reported.

Long-term, the Gorham mill is expected to be “profitable and sustainable,” due to the synergies with the Old Town mill, the shift to efficient green energy and adding tissue capacity, said Dick Arnold, president of both Patriarch Partners’ mills.

Two of the Gorham mill’s paper machines have been running “probably 75%-85% of the time for the last month or so,” said Eddie DeBlois, an official with United Steelworkers Local 75 in Berlin, New Hampshire.

About 165 people are employed at the mill now and another 29 workers will be hired for the new tissue machine, said Blevins. The mill had slightly less than 200 people in its workforce before it closed, NHPR reported.

The primary source of this article is New Hampshire Public Radio, Concord, New Hampshire, on Dec. 19, 2011.

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