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Turners paper co. sells 1 brand

TURNERS FALLS — Southworth Paper Co. has announced that it will sell one of its brands to another paper producer, but will keep its Turners Falls mill running.

The company, which bought the Esleeck Paper Co. and the mill in 2006, will sell its Southworth business paper line to Wisconsin-based Neenah Paper Inc. The deal is expected to close on Jan. 31 and will only affect the company’s Agawam mill.

There are about 70 employees at the Turners Falls mill, none of whom will be hurt by the acquisition, according to David Southworth, company president.

“I’m certain nobody at the Turners Falls mill will lose their jobs in the next year, and hopefully not for the next 20 years,” said Southworth.

However, 60 employees at the company’s Agawam mill will lose their jobs in rolling layoffs beginning in March and ending in the fall. Office positions in Agawam will likely be transferred to Turners Falls within the year, said Southworth.

If Southworth can find enough additional business, it will hold on to the Agawam mill for future use, said Southworth.

Southworth said his company was approached by Neenah, and initially was not interested in the sale.

“The decision to sell our flagship product line was sentimentally difficult,” said Southworth. “This was an opportunity to monetize our legacy business papers and to focus on the remaining parts of our business.”

Southworth said business paper is “a flat to declining business,” with more and more transactions and business communications being done electronically.

Southworth will manufacture its business paper in Turners Falls for 2 1∕ 2 years, to supply Neenah. Southworth will continue to produce and sell its social stationery, specialty technical papers and contract envelopes. Southworth said the company will seek to grow those product lines to replace its business paper production.

Last year, the company bought Lallie Inc., a Maryland-based designer and manufacturer of stationery, invitations, and announcement papers. Lallie has about 20 employees, in Maryland, where it continues to produce its paper.

By the end of this year, Southworth hopes to acquire the Madison Park Group, a Seattle, Wash., marketer of greeting cards and specialty stationery. Madison Park has about 40 employees, and has been rapidly growing as it prepares to start selling to national retailers, said Southworth.

The Turners Falls mill has been in business since Esleeck opened it in 1900. It had been built 10 years prior, as the Marshall Paper Mill, but had not produced any paper before it was purchased by A.W. Esleeck. It remained in his family until 1980. Southworth Paper was founded in 1839, and is still run by the Southworth family.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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