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GPT has purchased a brand-new 100-ton-a-day tissue machine

December 08, 2011
GORHAM — A new paper machine will be shipped to the Androscoggin Valley!

Gorham Paper & Tissue (GPT) LLC has purchased a brand-new existing 100-ton-a-day ABK Group tissue machine for the paper mill, now owned by Patriarch Partners.

Lynn Tilton, CEO of the New York-based private equity firm and holding company, announced the news at today's Business and Industry Association (BIA) meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.

The machine was originally fabricated for an Italian company that went bankrupt before it ever went into production.

A French company then purchased the defunct company's assets and sold the machine to GPT.

The tissue machine will produce three private-label tissue products: toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins.

Once the state Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) issues a permit, anticipated on Friday, Dec. 16, construction will begin immediately on a foundation to allow the heavy machine to be installed.

The entire project is expected to cost about $30 million, said Dick Arnold of Old Town, Me., president of both GPT and the Old Town mill that produces pulp and is working on making bio-fuels.

The machine's largest component, the Yankee dryer, weighs about 65 metric tons or about 145,000 lbs.

It has not yet been determined into which port the Yankee dryer will be shipped from Italy or if the other 44 shipping containers will come into the same port. "We're looking for the best port for these particular components," explained Arnold.

The tissue will be dried by burners fueled by natural gas that is now available on site due to a newly installed TransCanada pipeline from the Portland Natural Gas Transmission System mainline in Berlin.

If all goes as now planned, the machine should be in operation in September by the end of the third quarter.

"This is a real aggressive schedule so we can enter the market as soon as possible," Arnold said. "This machine is a key component to ensuring the long-term viability and profitability of this mill, which is now non-integrated meaning that it must stand entirely on its own production." This was not always the case, pulp used to be produced the Burgess Pulp mill in Berlin, providing the bulk of the raw material needed in the papermaking process, but the facility was shuttered on May 6, 2006.

When the machine is in operation, 24 employees — four per shift plus supervisors — will be able to manage 24/7 its production.

Two more tissue machines could be in GPT's future, if the business plan proves successful.

The GPT mill has been operating its No. 9 towel machine very consistently, and two other paper machines — no. 1 and no. 4 — whenever sufficient orders are in hand.

Klumb Environmenta;
Varney Smith
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