Ahlstrom-Munksjö to temporarily idle paper machine
Company says retirements, filling openings may negate potential job losses
UPDATED to include company comments 12:35 p.m.
By Eileen Persike
Ahlstrom-Munksjö announced it plans to temporarily idle No. 8 paper machine in December 2021 at its Rhinelander plant. It will also idle its No. 20 supercalender and No. 21 rewinder in July 2022.
Employees were notified of the plans this morning.
“In a very competitive marketplace, we must continue to provide cost-effective and innovative products, challenging our machine capabilities to generate optimum results,” said Robyn Buss, executive vice president of Ahlstrom-Munksjö’s Food Packaging & Technical Solutions business area. “Our robust manufacturing platform is well-positioned for continued success. By utilizing several other machines in our regional system, we will provide our customers with the level of service required to meet their needs.”
There are currently four paper machines in the Rhinelander plant. The total number of people affected is yet to be determined based on retirements and open positions that need to be filled. The company emphasized that the plan to stop using No. 8 is temporary.
“In terms of the actual positions affected, this process really will be continuing through summer of next year,” said Addie Teeters, head of marketing communications and public affairs for Ahlstrom-Munksjö. “When we take a look at the analysis of just one machine, we do it to protect the overall strength of the plant itself.”
She noted the company is working actively with the local union “to make sure people are put in the best spots possible.”
No. 8 has a capacity of 14,000 tons per year. All of the grades that are currently being manufactured on that machine are, for the most part, cross-qualified, Teeters said.
“We’re a specialty paper maker so we have multiple grades running on multiple systems across Wisconsin, so really it’s a matter of where can we run our grades in the most efficient and quality way possible.”
Ahlstrom-Munksjö employs approximately 500 people at the Rhinelander mill and has 1,800 workers across Wisconsin. The company makes products used in a variety of markets, including building and construction, food packaging, labels, technical and medical products.