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The impending sale of the Rhinelander mill by Wausau Paper was announced late Friday.The River News photograph
The impending sale of the Rhinelander mill by Wausau Paper was announced late Friday.

The River News photograph

Employees of the mill in Rhinelander leave the facility after a day's shift.River News file photo
Employees of the mill in Rhinelander leave the facility after a day's shift.

River News file photo
From the AP wire
Wausau Paper Corp. plans to divest two of its mills in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota. The mills up for sale are in Mosinee and Rhinelander as well as Brainerd, Minn. Those three mills make paper used for packaging, the food industry, linings and masking tape.

Wausau says the Mosinee-based company will begin looking for potential buyers of those mills, and cannot comment on timing or terms of any transaction. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the company will switch its focus solely to making tissue and towel, which are produced at its mills in Kentucky and Ohio. Wausau currently is investing $220 million at its Harrodsburg, Ky., mill. Last year, Wausau closed its oldest mill in Brokaw, which made paper for printing and writing. That move eliminated 450 jobs.

1/12/2013 7:30:00 AM
Wausau Paper to narrow focus to tissue business

Wausau Paper recently announced that it commenced a process last year to identify strategic alternatives for its Paper Segment that will position the Company to focus its management efforts on continuing the growth of its highly successful tissue business.

In early 2012 the Company exited its legacy Print & Color business and narrowed the focus of its Paper Segment to specialty products with leading domestic and global positions in food, industrial and tape markets. Since that time the Company retained financial advisors to assist the Company's board of directors in the evaluation of alternatives for the remainder of the Paper Segment.

The Company recently began the start-up phase of a $220 million tissue capacity investment at its Harrodsburg, Kentucky site. The project will accelerate growth of its Tissue Segment and further establish its "green leadership" position in away-from-home tissue markets through improved product performance and the introduction of new-to-the-market premium recycled products.

"Our Tissue Segment has demonstrated strong profitability and exceptional growth over the last decade," stated Hank Newell, president & CEO. "We believe our shareholders' interests will be best served through a singular focus on successfully marketing the capacity and capability of our new tissue machine and sustaining the historically strong growth and profit performance of our tissue business."

The Company cannot provide assurance of the timing, terms or completion of a transaction related to the strategic alternatives for the Paper Segment. Watch for future articles in The River News as more information becomes available.

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Chuck Brach

"Coincidentally, Obama's high-priority 'Jobs Council' just passed the one-year mark without a meeting but I'm sure, once he's reminded, Obama will get back on it with a laser-like focus."

Holmes, is that anything like Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans' laser-like focus on jobs?

Sorry to go off topic, or did I?

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Jerry Freeze

Is there anyone who actually works at the mill willing to comment on the situation? I had also heard that as of December 1 machines that break down or need maintenance are not getting repaired or parts replaced etc. Is this true? If this is true, this is not a good sign of things to come.

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: Lisa MaKarrall

All three of these mills are profitable, so I haven't given up hope that they may sell. It's not feasible to revamp them to make tissue paper but they do well in their own right. Hopefully, someone out there will recognize that. My grandfather retired from the mill here, my grandma worked in the canteen there, my dad worked there along with several of my uncles, cousins and friends. So it's been an important part of my family for a long, long time. Here's hoping for the best. We have something in common Don.

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: Brian Holmes

Here's an idea: Why don't the mill employees -- or better yet, the various mill unionsv--vget together and make an offer? There'd be no greedy hedge funds then or anybody interested in a return on their money. Oh, the sheer goodness and light of it all! Just a bunch of peaceful, formerly God-fearing men and women who'd link arms and go forth into a wondrous new world.
Coincidentally, Obama's high-priority "Jobs Council" just passed the one-year mark without a meeting but I'm sure, once he's reminded, Obama will get back on it with a laser-like focus.

Posted: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Article comment by: Kay Samz

No one wants to see anything happen to our paper mill or to those in Brainerd and Mosinee. We probably all have friends and family that work there and realize the trickle down effect it will have on our community if it does close.
But when you bring politics into the equation by blaming President Obama for the problem, you can't expect people not to disagree with you, especially when your candidate did this type of thing for a living.
We would all be better off to work constructively together to see if we can do anything to save the mill. And you need to take your own advice and quit attacking people when they respond to something you started. Believe me, we are all well aware of your overwhelming hatred of President Obama, but he had nothing to do with this issue at hand. And neither did George Bush, Scott Walker or Mitt Romney.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Don Myers

Lisa, if only you liberals were willing to freeze regulations at their present form maybe, just maybe America could make a comeback. The endless overzealous attitude of the anti-business crowd have brought us to our knees. And recovery Tony? Wow, look at the number of working age people who have lost faith and finally dropped out of the labor market. Add those folks to the new weekly unemployment files and then tell me how great Obama is doing.

Tony, maybe we should let Obama spend a few hundred more billion on "green jobs". Gosh, he did so well with the others that went broke with our money. What was it 10 or 12 that went down taking our billions with them? Again, if Obama would simply get out of the way for a while our business people would do what they do best: expand, hire more people and yes make an evil profit along their way so seniors can get a return on their retirement investments.

Get real Lisa, we will all owe you a debt of gratitude when the toilet seat of liberalism falls into the bowl and the way your king spends money we don't have, it won't take long.

And of course when it does that'll also be the fault of the evil Republicans won't it?

If it wasn't so pathetic it would be laughable. Now. like I said before, how about we try to save our mill and argue about politics later.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Tony Arten

Floyd hits it on the head. "India and China, and the next guys do not follow any EPA in their countries." Exactly. They also pay what? The equivalent of $1.50 an hour? Guess what, these industries are in a slow death spiral because there is no way we can compete with countries that basically endorse slave labor. Unless we decide that it's OK to spew massive amounts of pollution into the air, contaminate ground water, get lax about safety issues, and pay so little they could barely eat for a day. Then it's time to accept reality and realize that our future may not be in these sorts of industries.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Tony Arten

I find it humorous that Don accuses others of "your insistence that Obama bears no responsibility for what is happening to our economy" when he continually does the opposite. Lay all responsibility for the economy at the feet of Obama and liberals. Unless of course the economy improves (which it is). Then it is the brilliance of the GOP.

If an industry can't compete and still protect the natural resources that are the reason so many live here in the first place, maybe it is truly time to think on attempting to attract different industry. Lumber was great 100 years ago. Times change. Is the world in any way the same as it was even 40 years ago?

But attracting cleaner, better paying, high tech industry to our area requires investment in community -- especially education. Something that our elected "leaders" in Madison and our governor have repeatedly attacked. Times change folks. Yet too many want to cling to an industry/economy model that is horribly out of date because "that's the way it's always been." And at the same time seem to refuse to do anything to build for a better future.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Lisa MaKarrall

Floyd, the Head of the EPA is a woman, although I hear she has a fuzzy recliner for an office chair.
What a chauvinistic and ignorant thing to say.
Starboard, on the other hand, is run by males. Those males only care about their shareholders and certainly not the lives of those they blow apart for greed. The Brokaw mill was profitable and would not have closed without Starboard behind it. Now Starboard is pressuring the sale of the Rhinelander and the Mosinee mills, not Obama and not the EPA. Without Starboard, this would not be a story and all would be well here, in Mosinee and in Brainerd.
And Don, this is your guy's style, not mine. Business is business, but you can't claim to have a conscience or a soul to do this for a living.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Jerry Freeze

Anyone know what the folks working at the mill are saying about the situation?

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Andrew Danger

So Floyd tell me this: If Starboard was not involved with Wausau Paper would it be up for sale right now? And also it is kind of funny how all the letters between Starboard and Wausau Paper had an agreement about putting a cap on how much stock they could buy until the first of the year, so seems to me that the EPA had something to do with this. One last thing, all you Romney fans out there, he was part of a hedge fund that is doing the same thing Starboard is doing! Look how many companies he had contact with.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Jerry Freeze

Who is going to buy it? From what I am told by folks who work there and used to work in Mosinee there is so much over-capacity in the industry that it may no longer make sense for anyone to run it. I hate to sound negative, because I truly care about the people who will be impacted, but one has to prepare for reality.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Brian Holmes

I realize this is a futile exercise, but businesses don't exist to make your life a bed of roses. In business, every day brings competitor, customer, government, quality, logistics, and personnel challenges (among others) that have to be dealt with, or guess what: you're out of business pretty quick. Businesses don't sit around plotting against "the little guy," as some here fantasize. That would be a complete waste of time.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Pat Zastrow

Usually I just read all of the comments and quietly shake my head but this time I cannot.
Unfortunately in my opinion, and that's all it is, the fault lies with both Starboard and the EPA regulations on coal that will take effect in 2014. The presidential proclamation that was signed to reduce coal usage is creating instability within any industry that depends on coal for production, not to mention the coal industry as a whole.
The cost to fix machinery that would meet these new regulations is outrageous.
Starboard is in the business to make money no matter what and that's what they are doing.
The fault also lies with us, when we as citizens sit back and say it won't happen here so we turn a blind eye. Well it's here so what do we do now?

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Kay Samz

Floyd, I never said that there weren't other problems in the paper industry, but in this particular case, it rests on Starboard. Period.

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: Andrew Danger

It is greed. That's all. It is has nothing to do with the EPA, Union, or whatever theories some of you people have. Jerry, no one is singing yet!

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Don Myers

Kay... While I'm always impressed with your continued passionate support for anything that shields Obama, your ignorance of the issues regarding the pending EPA regulations or your refusal to even acknowledge obvious negative consequences of these regulations being forced on American industries is quite amazing.

It is quite clear that Wisconsin's paper industry is in danger of becoming non competitive due to the EPA. Look what has happened to pulp producers in the state already. Feasibility studies are being conducted every day by businesses that are not sure they can afford to expand or continue operations due to more over-regulation.

Once again, your insistence that Obama bears no responsibility for what is happening to our economy because of his failed policies and his endorsement of an out of control EPA confirms you and many of his other supporters will bury your head in the sand while waving his banner to help push his dangerous agenda.

It also has become clear that while our King Barack Obama rules, disagreement is not to be allowed and those who do so are to be both vilified and aggressively shouted down by his minions, Hollywood and a "news" media that has turned "journalism" into a joke and a four letter word.

I only ask fair minded people to conduct real research, check out the facts for themselves and then draw their own conclusions. There are plenty of credible sources out there. I will post several in due time.

Paper mills, power plants, and countless other industries that are dependent on large supplies of oil, natural gas or coal are facing a regulation crisis that they may not be able to financially deal with if someone doesn't slow down these over zealous regulators. Recently the Supreme Court shot down EPA regulations that called rainwater run-off a pollutant. That definition had threatened to move citizens out of their houses to abide by the insane rules that would have been put in place.

Remember how Pres. Obama and the nutcase Nancy Pelosi told us Obamacare was going to reduce health insurance costs and improve service? Well, how is that working out?

But back to the paper mill ... I would suggest an immediate petition drive by the community to help our mill and the many fine people who are employed there. Have their voices and the community's voice heard. It can't hurt to be proactive.

We should send copies to our representatives, the mill's new owners and the White House who just raised the minimuum number of signatures required for a response from 25,000 to 100,000.

The survival of our mill trumps politics obviously.
Let's not wait until it's too late to save it!

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Floyd Estelle

Sorry, I hope this doesn't sound like I am picking on women, but they need to learn really what the EPA is doing to the paper industries and other industries, as they sit in their fuzzy recliners. It is more government and yes, the industry 40 years ago needed some guiding, but they are a good corporate citizen. Have your heard of the "Cluster Rule" from the EPA? Well it gives each and every mandate a time frame, if you do not reach it, you are toast! Very hard guidelines and the coal industry is toast with this current group of people in Washington, so I hope you will love your energy bills in the next five years, it will be a lot of fun paying for them.

Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013
Article comment by: Floyd Estelle

Kay Samz, you need to learn the facts before you think you know the answer.
Paper has been under seige for a while. Brokaw business outlook was bad if you read trade magazines since the 1990s. Just was not a good environment to be in, with computers, and people forgetting how to communicate by letter, or even wanting too! Rhinelander still has a lot to offer, but it still is under duress by government agencies such as the EPA. India and China, and the next guys do not follow any EPA in their countries. Been in the industry 30 years, the paper industry is so much better today than 20 years ago, but you have the EPA that will surely put more companies out of business. Since 2000 there have been over 125 mills shutdown with over 60,000 employees. Multiply this by three support people per person and you come out as 180,000 people out of work for no good reason except government period.

Posted: Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Thompson

If this legislature has its head on straight, they will pass an industrial hemp bill which will ignite a jobs boom in Wisconsin.

Hemp can be made into fine quality paper using much of the same technology used for wood pulp. The long fibers in hemp allow such paper to be recycled several times more than wood-based paper.

Wisconsin was the world's top producer of hemp in the 1940s prior to prohibition.

If one tried to ingest enough industrial hemp to get 'a buzz', it would be the equivalent of taking 2-3 doses of a high-fiber laxative.

Hemp growers can not hide marijuana plants in their fields. Marijuana is grown widely spaced to maximize leaves. Hemp is grown in tightly-spaced rows to maximize stalk and is usually harvested before it goes to seed.

The hemp industry would provide well paying jobs and revenue streams to the state without raising taxes on existing corporations or citizens.

At a volume level of 81 percent, hemp oil is the richest known source of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids (the "good" fats). It's quite high in some essential amino acids, including gamma linoleic acid (GLA), a very rare nutrient also found in mother's milk.

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