After decades of serving and informing this industry, Ken Patrick has decided to take his very well-earned retirement.
Recent years have proved to be a boon for those covering the industry. Both Ken and I have been involved with the forest products industry for more years than we care to remember. As Ken can attest, not so long ago, writing about the tissue sector could be a difficult task as it was so secretive. This isn’t so surprising considering the millions of dollars each fraction of a percentage of market share can mean. Many of the large tissue producers also consider themselves members of the rapidly moving consumer goods sector rather than as part of the forest products industry.
However, as the sector grows and per capita consumption increases worldwide, it entices more and more producers to try their hand in the market, especially traditional paper producers (other than board) who have seen steep declines in their markets. This even involves pulp producers who have seen the fluff pulp market soar.
The market has also attracted those who were formerly converters, but decided to go into production as well. Cellynne, with its greenfield tissue mill in Florida, was one well-known example. Of course, it has since been sold to the Italian company Sofidel, which is building a mill in Ohio. Before the mill was even complete, company CEO Luigi Lazzareschi announced a second machine for the mill with startup expected in Q3 2018. He said this at the RISI North American forest products outlook conference in San Diego in late 2016. This type of public announcement would have been unheard of a few years ago.
The traditional big brand producers still keep their cards close to the vest. And, sales by the suppliers may still say “confidential” customer. But, the newbies or those wishing to increase their presence seem to be much more willing to share information. These producers are also more interested in the growing private label sector.
We have two examples in this magazine: St. Croix Tissue in Maine and ST Tissue. ST, led by the Tak family, is our cover feature and Ken spent a great deal of time with them.
St. Croix, which has been profiled in these pages before, was a former paper mill that had been shut before International Grand Investment Corp. breathed new life into the facility and town, a much-needed boost for the beleaguered pulp and paper industry in Maine.
After World War II, as tissue consumption in Western Europe grew, many of the big US players built or bought facilities there to establish their presence and serve the market. As times changed, most decided to opt out and return to their base.
Soon, the tide was reversing, with many European producers casting covetous glances at North America and deciding to go west. We have already mentioned Sofidel (also featured in this issue), but there are others, including SCA, and soon there may be more.
RISI’s tissue guru, Esko Uutela, looks at the changing tide, the reasons behind it and what other opportunities may or may not exist in North America.
Finally, don’t forget the new event on the tissue conference calendar. The joint TAPPI/RISI Tissue Conference and Expo takes place in Miami in October. We have a preview. It’s an event not to be missed.
GRAEME RODDEN, Editor
KEN PATRICK, Editor Emeritus
LARRY N. MONTAGUE, President & CEO, TAPPI
ERIC FLETTY, VP Operations, TAPPI
JAN BOTTIGLIERI, Editorial Director, Paper360°
MONICA SHAW, Editorial Director, TAPPI Journal
PROJECT SUPPORT SPECIALIST
BK Publication Design