A Small World

On June 25, 2012, Scott Springmier, Eric Fletty, and I accepted a previous invitation from long-time TAPPI member and a young, Mike Ditka look-alikeJim Niemiec, to visit NewPage in Wiscosin Rapids, Wis., USA. At the time we had no idea that (current TAPPI board-member) Jeff Hamilton was in the process of accepting the mill manager's position at this very mill. Jeff was instrumental in bringing PIMA under TAPPI's wings a few years ago. We are proud to have him on TAPPI's board.

It felt like a family reunion. We had meetings with several of the mill employees, many whom we had met at various TAPPI functions over the years. We had the opportunity to present a TAPPI update as well as tour the mill and their Research and Development Center.

This location is an industrial complex in itself convering more than two miles end-to-end from the pulp mill, waste water treatment plant, and to the shipping dock, with all things in between. The mill houses the largest off-line coater in the U.S., and produces one of the very best coated free sheet products in the industry. The pride in the mill's 1,050+ employees was apparent as soon as you walked in the door.

The mill was extremely clean and, according to Jeff Hamilton, you could eat off of the floor. Thank goodness I was full from the catered lunch that they provided us upon our arrival, or I may have taken Jeff up on his offer. In Jeff's words, the mill's "if it isn't bolted down, it needs to have a proper home" attitude really drives the immaculate house-keeping that is apparent throughout the entire complex.

The mill offers a broad range of basis weights from 80 lb to 146 lb on a 246-inch wide machine. If you want to see the future of parent roll storage, you have to see the automated system in Wisconsin Rapids. This state of the art system resembles something right out of Star Wars, with nine stories of roll storage. Labor relations are very good at the mill, which is apparent with a union contract that runs through 2018.

twl-smallworld1
Some of the key members of the Wisconsin mill team. (and also fans from TAPPI)

From there we went to the Reserch and Development Center, which is overseen by the Director of Research, Dean Benjamin. The building was built in 1959 and has undergone several expansions and equipment upgrades since its inception. It houses a pilot coater and calendar. The center is located in a 42,000 sq ft building on a 40 acre site. The 46 employees support eight mills in the NewPage system. R&D provides world-class process support to advance the products and services that NewPage provides.

"The R&D function provides cost-effective and innovative product and process development to meet customer needs and to enable our long-term competitiveness and prosperity through the proper application of science, technology, and innovation. We accomplish this with our internal resources as well as working closely with leading universities and other external research institutions,"Benjamin noted.

R&D manages the NewPage intellectual property, including their portfolio of 44 U.S. and 48 foreign patents, as well as 27 pending patents.

twl-smallworld2
Team members and some TAPPI folks (including Larry) at the Research and Development Center.

One of the more recent shining stars in the new page family of products is the TrueJet™ brand. This is a line of coated papers for high-speed production inkjet printing. The product won the 2011 Intertech™ Technology Award for innovative excellence, from Printing Industries of America.Niemiec

This was a breath of fresh air in our industry where many have cut back R&D efforts over the past 10 - 15 years.

NewPage, at a glance, does $3.6 billion in annual sales. It produces 3.5 million tons of paper annually and has nearly 6,000 employees. The product line breakdown is 75% coated, 14% specialty, 6% supercalendered, and 5% other grades of paper.

More information about NewPage is available online.

More information about TAPPI is also available online.

There are two types of people in our industry - TAPPI members and those who should be.

Until next time.......

Larry


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Travels With Larry

Travels With Larry

Paper Shows up in the Strangest Places

I have adopted nine cities in my career in this industry, but my hometown was and remains to be Memphis, Tenn., USA.

What a whirlwind in September & October 2016 Volume 1

Fall 2016 -- Keynote Speaker at Pulp and Paper Industry Reliability and Maintenance Conference. 

Larry Travels to Delaware

Our trek to Wilmington, Del., although extremely interesting was not to find the answer to this burning question.

Runs Batted In

In non-baseball terms, RBI stands for the Renewable Bioproducts Institute located at Georgia Tech. 

The Great Pacific Northwest! Part 1 of 3

Travels with Larry February 2017 


Travels with Larry near the Windy City

The date of August 16th has a special meaning to me. This date happens to be the day, in different years, when the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth...

What a whirlwind in September & October 2016 Volume 2

Fall 2016 -- I have seen the Future


There's No Place Like Home

When visiting Thompson Industrial Services, LLC, Eric Fletty and I had the pleasure to visit a town that neither of us had been before.

The Year of the Dragon: Part 2

This past May 31, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with personnel from APRIL's pulp mill in Rizhao, Shandong Province, China.


If you Mess it Up, Un-Mess It!

If you have been around any time at all in our industry, you know that things will get messed up in the areas of finished goods...

You Never Know

John, you will be missed...

An Accent on Innovation

On May 13, 2014, Eric Fletty and I had the opportunity to visit with one of TAPPI’s Sustaining Member companies, Kadant Inc., at its Kadant Johnson facility in Three Rivers, Mich., USA. 


Seneca Steel Erectors, Inc.

Eric Fletty and I recently discovered that the town of Logan, OH is home to Men and Women of Steel.


How Many Times Have You Heard the Term Found Money?

During a recent early morning walk around Peachtree Corners, Ga., I found what I thought was a small pile of leaves.

Old Home Week

It never ceases to amaze me, when TAPPI Members come together for a corporate visit or TAPPI conference with 100-5,000 people...

WestRock Production Managers Development Program

Have you ever had one of those days when you discover a project that makes you say; “Wow, I wish I had thought of that one!”?

Riddle Me This!

On Thursday, January 8, 2015, Kristi Ledbetter, Eric Fletty and I had the privilege of having two gentlemen from one of TAPPI’s newest Sustaining Members...

When It Rains, It Poors Or Does it?

When it rains, it pours… or does it? During TAPPI’s recent, very successful, PEERS and IBBC conferences in Tacoma, WA, we had over 400 people registered. There were representatives from 14 countries who attended these meetings. Three of

The Sometimes Unsung Leaders of TAPPI

I have to be one of the most blessed people on the face of the earth. I get to go to work each day in an industry where I always wanted to work, at an association that I have