Strick get his job back.“No one is shocked when a paper mill closes anymore,” said Kyle Putzstuck, the president of Midwest Paper Group, which bought the Combined Locks mill soon after it was shuttered.
Since reopening, the mill in Combined Locks has switched most production from white paper to brown, installed equipment that can crush used cardboard to make new paper, and hired back about half of the 600 workers laid off during the shutdown.
The smooth brown paper they produce goes to cardboard-making vendors, who sell it in turn to Amazon and other retailers, who ship them to your doorstep.
Brown paper sales slowed following the Christmas e-commerce rush, but industry analysts say the conditions are still ripe for long-term growth. Until early last year, much of the used cardboard consumed in the United States was being shipped to China, where it was recycled into new boxes.
Then, in January 2018, China stopped accepting most used cardboard imports.
The village of Combined Locks, Wis., founded when the mill opened in 1889, braced for the loss of its largest employer and feared that the community would be left with a hulking industrial wasteland, just like the other failed paper mills dotting the state. Strick, who was then 58, started looking for a new job.
Smok Handbook Of Pulp And Paper Terminology
7 paper machine hiss and hum for what he thought was the last time, Rick Strick felt a lump well in his throat. Demand for the glossy white paper that the mill produced for brochures was plummeting as advertising continued its flight to the internet.
“It was like the Silicon Valley of its time,” said Dan Clarahan, a board member of the Paper Discovery Center.
One owner’s home was the first in the nation illuminated by Thomas Edison’s light bulbs. Stately Victorian homes line many Appleton neighborhoods.
There are soft reading lamps standing next to comfortable armchairs and an oil painting of two white-tailed deer.
Sitting at the bar one night were Steve Gilsdorf and his wife, Karen.