Some North Country news - Gorham Paper Mill Sold

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peakbagger

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Gorham NH
Over the years I occasionally did a news update from the North Country and other members seemed to appreciate the updates,

https://www.businesswire.com/news/h...e’s-Gorham-Paper-Tissue-White-Mountain-Tissue

The Gorham operation is the sole remainder of what was once a major economic driver for the region and good reason why the level of development is quite low. There were two papermills in Groveton NH along with a paper mill and the big pulp mill in Berlin that used to give the Androscoggin Valley its smell of money odor and the Gorham papermill. The Groveton Mills went first with the Berlin pulpmill going next after struggling through a succession of owners and the papermill continued to struggle along under a few more owners. It previous was a specialty papermill with some towel production (arguably the producer of the original paper towel). One of its products was the paper for the White Mountain Guide for several editions, USGS maps and a frequent supplier of book paper for Stephen King and some of the early Harry Potter books. The prior owner stopped doing specialties and installed a high speed tissue machine to complement the original Towel machine. The prior owner was Patriarch Paper that was owned by Lynn Tilton a very "colorful" character whose financial empire took a tumble at some point starving the mill of operating cash.

The new owners are saying the right things and there are hopes they follow through. The mill complex is sprawled over a large footprint and there are opportunities to scrap out some buildings and streamline the facility. They couldn't directly benefit with the Covid shortages of paperproducts as they only made large parent rolls typically several feet in diameter by several feet wide but there are hopes that they will install converting equipment to allow them to produce actual finished product.

The mill has far fewer employees these days but they are still relatively high pay with full benefits compared to the new tourist based economy jobs. The facility supports many indirect jobs in the area.

Since they buy pulp from other producers the environmental impact on the area is fairly low. They switched to natural gas from heavy fuel oil several years ago and supplement the natural gas with landfill gas from a nearby landfill. The hydroelectric stations in the area are now owned by Brookfield a separate company but they buy their power from Brookfield

On different note, despite the flurry of ATV proposals and activity last fall, things have been very quiet with no actual activity currently but that may be Covid related and the holiday impact. Given the current state estimates for vaccination its unlikely that tourism limits will be fully lifted by this summer so I expect that factors in on timing of investments.
 
It's always a bad thing when US manufacturing plants close. Let's hope the new owners are going to invest in the mill and make/keep it competitive.
 
Between the loss of the wood pulp market just over the border in Jay Maine (Pixel) and the lack of snow for snowmobiling, I know more than a few people in Coos County that are starting to get pretty nervous about the next 6 months. Without a sufficient market for low grade wood, it will be pretty hard to maintain even the diminished forest products industry. You can't cut just saw and veneer logs and make ends meet.

I think many users of private forestland forget what pays to keep the land open, undeveloped and the woods roads maintained.
 
Thanks PB for notification of this development. I'd like to note to our readers that you know something about the pulp and paper business in your work for the mills as engineering back early days of your career. Personally I would like to keep alive forest products industry in north country.
 
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