September 26, 2012GORHAM — The new tissue machine at the Gorham Paper & Tissue mill is in its final days of commissioning, explained mill manager Willis Blevins in a Monday morning telephone interview.
The new building is swarming with workers who are making final adjustments, this after each machine component in the state-of-the-art tissue machine was examined closely and tested.
The new tissue machine, installed at a cost of $30-million-plus, is the centerpiece of Patriarch Partners' business plan, designed to make the mill profitable.
The other major component — a tap into the natural gas line to reduce the mill's energy cost by about $1 million a month — was achieved a little over a year ago.
Although Blevins said that he believes that tissue paper will be produced on the new machine by this weekend, he said that it is too soon to tell exactly when saleable paper will be produced. "It could be immediately or it could take up to three weeks of making adjustments," he explained.
Two hundred and eleven employees are now on payroll, Blevins said. This includes 16 skilled workers assigned to the new machine — four teams of four, he said, plus others who provide support for the venerable mill's initiative.
The new project — technically named White Mountain Tissue — is a joint venture of two Patriarch Partners' companies, GPT and Old Town Fuel & Fiber in Maine, both of which are under Dick Arnold's umbrella. Old Town Fuel & Fiber will supply most of the pulp for White Mountain Tissue.
Central National-Gottesman, Inc. (CNG), headquartered in Purchase, N.Y. is its exclusive sales and marketing representative as it is for Old Town.
GPT acquired the former Fraser Papers paper mill in May 2011 via investment funds managed by Patriarch Partners, a private equity firm and holding company headquartered in New York City that manages some 75 companies in 14 industry sectors with over $8 billion in revenues. Founded by Lynn Tilton in 2000, Patriarch focuses on acquiring and breathing new life into undervalued American manufacturing companies with the goal of creating and preserving jobs in the U.S.