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ST Tissue Announces Major Expansion of Virginia Tissue Mill

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Tak Investments Inc., owner of tissue mills in Oconto Falls, Wis., USA, and Franklin, Va., yesterday (Sept. 28, 2016) announced an expansion of its Franklin facility to further support customers’ needs in the Away from Home (AfH) market. The company, which operates as ST Tissue, is adding a 50,000-tpy dry crepe machine, alongside its existing 70,000-tpy wet crepe machine. ST also is adding some downstream equipment that will allow it to provide its customers with outsourced toweling finished goods.

TAPPI’s Tissue360o magazine visited the ST Tissue mill at Franklin (former International Paper fine paper mill) and published an in-depth feature article on its resurrected PM 6 (previously produced uncoated free sheet paper) in the Fall/winter 2013 edition of the magazine. 

The company manufactures product for the commercial tissue, or AfH, market, which represents about one-third of the nearly nine million short tons of tissue consumed in North America. The company’s Oconto Falls tissue mill produces 60,000 tpy of high quality AfH recycled bleached bath tissue, napkin, and towel. The Franklin mill produces high quality AfH recycled kraft napkin and towel.  

In photo above, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (center) yesterday toured the ST Tissue Mill in Franklin, Va. 

"When we first announced our acquisition of the site in Franklin, we envisioned a world class AfH tissue facility, with state-of-the-art recycling capability, the ability to provide a broad range of sustainable products, an experienced staff, and many customers within a logical freight radius that were experiencing high growth," said Sahil Tak, an executive of ST Tissue. "But we also recognized the opportunity to help rebuild a community devastated by a mill closure. So, this next step is simply a natural progression of the company toward achieving that vision."

The ST Tissue Franklin mill produces 100% recycled, high post-consumer content napkin and towel for the Away From Home market. Its products have received a number of third party environmental certifications for its responsible and sustainable manufacturing processes. While the mill currently produces kraft napkin and towel exclusively, the plant expansion will enable it to also produce recycled bleached, along with virgin, napkin and towel for its customers. 

This "new" machine will be reconstructed from an existing uncoated free sheet machine, which was shut down by its previous owner in 2010, into a dry crepe tissue machine. The machine will be focused on making napkin product for ST Tissue’s customers and will draw its fiber from its recycled fiber plant.

ST Tissue’s facility expansion will also include upgrading the existing recycled fiber plant and the addition of towel converting capacity. "As our partners grow," added Tak, "we want to be there to support them and push them to greater success. That is why we focus on customer service, quality, and innovation. This expansion embodies all of those concepts."  

The new project, slated to create in excess of 50 new jobs and cost about $40 million, will be supported by local and state of Virginia incentives. ST Tissue anticipates the project will be completed in phases during the next 18 months. The existing tissue machine will continue to run normally. 

"It certainly is a proud day for the company," Tak commented, "and we feel fortunate for the opportunities presented to us. At the same time, we also recognize there is a lot of work ahead. We are looking forward to driving continued growth and success for our partners and both the Oconto Falls and Franklin mills."

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that ST Tissue LLC, a manufacturer of high-quality tissue, towel and napkin products, said that Virginia successfully competed against Wisconsin for the project.
"In 2013, ST Tissue resurrected a former paper mill and converted it into a leading paper products manufacturing facility that continues to grow and thrive in Isle of Wight County," McAuliffe said, speaking at this week’s event at the mill site. "We are proud that this important corporate partner put citizens back to work and has made the decision to further invest in its operation and workforce. Growing the advanced manufacturing sector in the Commonwealth is a fundamental part of our efforts to diversify and build a new Virginia economy, and ST Tissue’s expansion is a great testament to our ongoing success."
Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore added that "ST Tissue is an important manufacturer and corporate partner on Virginia’s roster. The company has breathed new life into its retrofitted Isle of Wight facility, and is positively contributing to the resurgence of manufacturing in the Commonwealth, an industry that employs more than 240,000 and represents more than $118 billion in direct annual economic output in Virginia."
Tak noted that "Virginia is one of the most forward-thinking states in terms of cultivating its business ecosystem. We witnessed it first-hand as we built our mill in Isle of Wight in 2013 – the location, the workforce, the incentives from the state and local communities – it all adds up to a big advantage for Virginia when vying to attract new business. The state, and especially the community in Isle of Wight and Franklin, welcomed this opportunity with open arms and ushered this project forward against some very tough odds. Together we have proven that we can create manufacturing jobs here in the country, given there is broad level support from the state, local communities and entrepreneurs willing to make it happen."
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Isle of Wight County and the City of Franklin to secure the project for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $167,500 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Isle of Wight and Franklin with the project. The company is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. ST Tissue will also be eligible to receive sales and use tax exemptions on manufacturing equipment. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
"We in Isle of Wight County, together with our neighbors in the City of Franklin, heartily embrace the expansion of ST Tissue," said Rex Alphin, chair of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors. "This multi-million dollar investment and the addition of many excellent jobs underscores the confidence business leaders have in the Hampton Roads region, and bodes well for the future of our communities." 
"We are thrilled to be supportive of the expansion of ST Tissue," said Franklin Mayor Frank Rabil. "This level of collaboration between Isle of Wight County and the City of Franklin is historic and necessary for both of our communities to grow and thrive. ST Tissue is an outstanding corporate citizen and we look forward to their continued success in the region."  
Senator Louise Lucas said that "I would like to welcome ST Tissue to the City of Franklin and Isle of Wight County and congratulate them on their new expansion. You will find the people here in our communities are resilient and will play a significant part in making ST Tissue a success. I feel profound gratitude for the opportunity to represent the citizens of the City of Franklin and Isle of Wight County. I look forward to seeing the company become one of the leading employers in our communities and for the Virginia economy."


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