Pulp & Paper
Despite Rumors, Paper & Pulp Mills Continue to Produce More Than Ever
In a report released last year, the Maine Pulp & Paper Association reported that the demise of the pulp & paper industry has been exaggerated. In fact, despite the overall downturn in the national economy, and the resultant consolidations among the paper plants, the facts are that the paper & pulp industry in Maine will be here for the long haul. Based on the 8,000 people in Maine directly employed in the mills and their half a billion dollars in wages, and the five to seven jobs created per direct worker in the mills among loggers, transporters, retailers, etc., the total economic impact is second to none in the state.
The paper industry is actually producing as much paper each year today as it ever has. The increased efficiencies in production have contributed to a decline in the number of workers, but not in the amount of output. We still need to write a message on our post-it notes, don’t we? Only the state of Wisconsin produces more total paper & pulp output per year. The paper industry produces more than four percent of Maine’s gross domestic product. The contribution of the industry is disproportionately high in the rural portions of the state.
Maine Paper Industry
Consolidation has changed the face of Maine’s paper industry, but at this time, 10 companies operate a total of 13 pulp and paper mills in Maine, according to the MPPA report released last year. The products produced include pulp, bond, newsprint, tissue, coated paper, specialty paper, painter’s tape and many other specialized papers. The other New England states, particularly New Hampshire, have several paper mills that continue to operate too, despite consolidations and takeovers that have marked some recent disruptions in the industry.
The Hope Group has been providing hydraulic, pneumatic and instrumentation products and systems to the Maine paper & pulp companies for decades. Today, the emphasis is on retrofitting and rebuilding machinery to meet stricter production, environmental and “green” requirements in the mills. The need to do more with less translates into system design that permits increased productivity at reduced cost in materials and labor.
While the paper & pulp industry realigns itself to the new global marketplace, the fact that they continue to produce the same amount of product today as they did ten or 20 years ago, means that the mills will require maintenance, upgrades, rebuilds and retrofits that The Hope Group is ideally suited to implement.