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GPT's No. 9 towel machine shut down temporarily

July 14, 2011
GORHAM — The Gorham Paper & Tissue (GPT) mill faxed out an announcement on Thursday that there would be a temporary shutdown of its No. 9 towel machine, starting on Monday, July 11.

The shutdown was planned as part of the gradual ramp-up strategy for the mill facility, explained vacationing plant manager Willis Blevins in a Friday morning telephone call. He anticipates that the papermakers will be back at work by Sunday, July 24.

"We knew from day one that we would be short of orders and that we would have temporary machine shutdowns during at least the mill's first three months of operation." The temporary shutdowns will affect only some of the called-back workforce of 98 employees.

"Those temporarily laid off will be able to draw unemployment compensation," Blevins explained.

After all, Blevins said, mill product customers found other suppliers during the mill's eight-month shutdown under Fraser Papers, starting on Oct. 13, 2010. The machine was started up on June 22 after it became a Lynn Tilton company in the Patriarch Partners' portfolio.

Tilton acquired the mill on May 13, and she came to Gorham on June 10 to celebrate the acquisition.

Sales to its "fiber customers," Blevins explained, are expected to pick up, and each temporary shutdown in the next three months should last a shorter period of time.

Then, once the natural gas pipeline is in place on Sept. 19 and operational on Sept. 26 (see related article on SEC action), production costs should substantially fall, allowing sales to firm up.

Blevins reassuringly said, "The current scenario is following our forecast."

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