Recycled Paper – Watermill http://www.watermill.com A Strategy Driven Private Equity Partnership Mon, 05 Nov 2018 19:17:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 FutureMark Manistique Names Matthew Nightingale President and CEO http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-manistique-names-matthew-nightingale-president-ceo/ Wed, 08 Oct 2014 15:23:18 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=1581 Manistique, MI—October 8, 2014— FutureMark Manistique, ( “Manistique”), a producer of uncoated Kraft and printing papers produced from 100% recycled fiber, today announced the appointment of Matthew Nightingale to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer. Nightingale joins Manistique with an outstanding track record of leadership in the paper industry. “Nightingale brings to Manistique deep...

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Manistique, MI—October 8, 2014— FutureMark Manistique, ( “Manistique”), a producer of uncoated Kraft and printing papers produced from 100% recycled fiber, today announced the appointment of Matthew Nightingale to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer. Nightingale joins Manistique with an outstanding track record of leadership in the paper industry.

“Nightingale brings to Manistique deep industry knowledge, exceptional general management skills, and a strong vision for the company’s future,” said Steven Karol of the Watermill Group, Manistique’s equity partner. “Under Nightingale’s leadership, Manistique will enhance its strong market position and achieve the next phase of the company’s growth.”

Nightingale’s expertise in identifying new business and market opportunities and implementing quality and cost improvements have led to breakthrough results in the paper industry. Nightingale has held senior executive marketing, business development, product development, technical service and strategic planning positions with FutureMark Alsip, Twin Rivers Paper Company, Fraser Papers, MeadWestvaco, PhycoGen and Champion International. He holds a MS in Chemical Engineering from the Institute of Paper Chemistry and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maine.

“I am excited to be joining the Manistique team at a time when the mill is better equipped than ever to produce both 100% recycled high quality Printing papers as well as Kraft packaging papers,” Nightingale commented. “These unique capabilities enable us to better serve our customers and I look forward to building on Manistique’s strong customer relationships to help the company realize its full potential.”

About Manistique

Located in Manistique, Michigan, Manistique specializes in 100% recycled uncoated printing and writing papers as well as brown paper Kraft used in packaging materials, bags and containers.
Manistique has made significant capital investments in equipment over the past two years that increased its capability to produce new products, enhanced product quality and improved energy efficiency.

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FutureMark Alsip to Idle Mill http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-alsip-idle-mill/ Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:53:36 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=1560 Alsip, IL— August 21, 2014 —FutureMark Alsip (Alsip Acquisition, LLC) today announced that, due to increasingly challenging market conditions in the North American coated paper market, it will indefinitely idle its mill in early September. Alsip is the only facility in North America making coated publication and printing papers predominantly from recycled materials. “This is...

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Alsip, IL— August 21, 2014 —FutureMark Alsip (Alsip Acquisition, LLC) today announced that, due to increasingly challenging market conditions in the North American coated paper market, it will indefinitely idle its mill in early September. Alsip is the only facility in North America making coated publication and printing papers predominantly from recycled materials.

“This is an extremely difficult decision for us given the exceptional achievements of the Alsip mill in producing coated papers with unmatched levels of recycled content and the dedicated work of all of our employees,” said Stephen L. Silver, CEO of Alsip. “We explored many options to avoid this action, but the brutal reality for all coated paper manufacturers today is that falling demand and pricing pressure from lower-quality uncoated substitutes has driven prices to near historic lows. Combined with massive increases in energy costs over the winter, this pricing pressure has made it impossible for us to continue our Alsip operations at this time.”

The coated paper market is under increasing pressure as coated mechanical paper prices continue to decline and energy prices remain high following a winter with record cold weather. Aggravating an already weak market, the Canadian government’s estimated $200 million subsidy of the previously bankrupt Port Hawkesbury paper mill in Nova Scotia in 2012 enabled that mill to reopen and flood the market with 40,000 tons per month of low-cost supercalendered paper, creating an overcapacity that has most U.S. coated players operating at a loss.

Alsip will remain open for up to two weeks to fulfill orders and support customer efforts to transition to new suppliers. The mill presently employs 170 workers, and the announcement will affect all positions at the mill. After running out customer orders, a closure team will remain on site for a period of time to shut down the machine, maintain the facility and infrastructure, and support customers in the smooth transition of products and services.

FutureMark Alsip participates in joint marketing activities with a separate and independent company, FutureMark Manistique (MPI-Acquisition, LLC) under the FutureMark Paper Group brand. FutureMark Manistique, will continue to operate.

Alsip explored all alternatives for avoiding this shutdown, including expanded debt facilities, attempts to locate new investment and possible sale of the company. Alsip also received cooperation from its union and salaried employees in the form of wage concessions, however, some recent operational issues on top of continued poor market conditions led to a severe liquidity crisis.

“We appreciate the tireless efforts of all of our Alsip employees and the warm support the community and local government has extended to us throughout our many years of operation in this region,” said Silver. “We deeply regret the impact this will have on all involved. We fought as long and hard as we could.”

The company is currently working with an investment bank with an extensive background in the paper industry to assist in evaluating alternatives for maximizing the value of Alsip in a sale – including converting the facility to a stand-alone de-ink pulp mill for the sale of recycled fiber; using the site to manufacture tissue; converting the mill for the manufacture of packaging papers, or continuing its current line of coated papers. The company is actively engaged in a number of conversations with interested parties to explore these options with the ultimate goal of finding the best value for this facility for the creditors and recalling the workforce as soon as possible. At this time, the company has received expressions of interest from several potential buyers.

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FutureMark Paper Expand Client Roster in 2013, Breaks Ground in Educational Publishing http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-paper-expand-client-roster-in-2013-breaks-ground-in-educational-publishing/ http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-paper-expand-client-roster-in-2013-breaks-ground-in-educational-publishing/#comments Fri, 22 Nov 2013 17:39:10 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=1395 Westport, CT — November 22, 2013 — FutureMark® Paper Group, North America’s leading provider of responsibly made recycled paper, today announced the continued expansion of its customer roster among leading retailers, premier publishers and marketing services providers. The company reported new business wins in 2013 from Bed Bath & Beyond and Menards, as well as...

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Westport, CT — November 22, 2013 — FutureMark® Paper Group, North America’s leading provider of responsibly made recycled paper, today announced the continued expansion of its customer roster among leading retailers, premier publishers and marketing services providers. The company reported new business wins in 2013 from Bed Bath & Beyond and Menards, as well as increased volume from existing customers such as TIME Magazine, Gannett and Sam’s Club.

FutureMark also made notable strides in the educational publishing market in 2013, with 50 percent year over year volume growth, including new or expanded orders with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Reed Elsevier and Zaner Bloser – adding to its existing work with Scholastic and Wiley. As part of broader green initiatives among K-12 schools and higher education institutions, there is growing interest in high-recycled paper options for educational textbooks and instructional materials, most of which have traditionally been printed on conventional, or virgin, paper. A small portion of these materials may contain paper with 10-20 percent recycled fiber – technically qualifying them to be labeled “recycled.” High-recycled paper, however, is comprised of at least 90 percent recycled fiber and looks, feels and performs as well as the lower- or non-recycled options.

“We are very pleased with our business growth in 2013 and look forward to continuing this momentum into 2014,” stated Steve Silver, President & CEO of FutureMark Paper Company. “We see the educational publishing market as an area in which we can support significant industry change and lessen the environmental impact of textbooks and instructional materials. If school systems across the United States made the switch to high-recycled paper for these materials, more than 4 million trees, nearly 2 billion gallons of water and 2.5 trillion BTUs of energy could immediately be saved.”

Contributing to the company’s recent growth and positive outlook is FutureMark’s newest product: Future JetTM, the industry’s first high-recycled, coated digital inkjet paper. Compatible with both dye- and pigment-based printers, Future Jet offers publishers and commercial printers excellent print quality on the greenest paper available.

Added Silver: “Our sustainable, affordable, high-quality paper is impressing even the most skeptical buyers and printers, and we’re looking forward to turning more heads with additional new products we are readying for release early next year.”
FutureMark Paper Group’s two manufacturing facilities in Michigan and Illinois produce 90- to 100-percent recycled papers used in books, catalogs, magazines, retail inserts, office papers, labels and promotional mailings, as well as in fast food and commercial packaging applications. The company’s responsibly made printing and packaging papers have the highest recycled content for products of their type made in North America.

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Manistique Makeover http://www.watermill.com/manistique-makeover/ Mon, 16 Sep 2013 21:52:53 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=1381 Joining FutureMark Paper Group is helping Manistique create a brand not a commodity Like long lost siblings reunited after many years of separation, the Alsip, IL, and Manistique, MI, paper mills are now back under the same umbrella – this time that of the FutureMark Paper Group. After suffering through numerous ownership changes, including a...

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Joining FutureMark Paper Group is helping Manistique create a brand not a commodity

Like long lost siblings reunited after many years of separation, the Alsip, IL, and Manistique, MI, paper mills are now back under the same umbrella – this time that of the FutureMark Paper Group.

After suffering through numerous ownership changes, including a bankruptcy shut down in August 2011, the Manistique mill re-opened just one month later thanks to the efforts of Jon Johnson, now executive vice president and general manager, as well as the foresight of the local bank, mBank, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Still, this was a short –term solution an a buyer was needed for long term survival.

The Watermill Group, a Lexington, MA-based private investment firm, which had purchased and reposition the Alsip mill in 2009 as FutureMark Paper (PPI, February 2011, June 2011), first visited the Manistique mill in November 2011 and was intrigued by the possibilities of this northern Michigan mill, finalizing the sale in May 2012. Although the two mills are separate legal entities, they are operated under a marketing alliance called Futuremark Paper Group and share common senior management. There are now 150 employees, up from 120 when the sale was finalized with Watermill. And the mill has been profitable every month since the purchase…

… What was the attraction this aging and ailing mill had for FutureMark and Watermill?

Read More

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FutureMark Paper Launches Future Jet http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-paper-launches-future-jet/ http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-paper-launches-future-jet/#comments Thu, 05 Sep 2013 18:48:40 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=1350 Westport, CT and Chicago, IL (PRINT 2013) — September 5, 2013 — FutureMark® Paper Group, North America’s leading provider of responsibly made recycled printing papers, today announced the launch of Future Jet TM, the industry’s first high-recycled, coated digital inkjet paper. Compatible with both dye- and pigment-based printers, Future Jet offers publishers and commercial printers...

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Westport, CT and Chicago, IL (PRINT 2013) — September 5, 2013 — FutureMark® Paper Group, North America’s leading provider of responsibly made recycled printing papers, today announced the launch of Future Jet TM, the industry’s first high-recycled, coated digital inkjet paper. Compatible with both dye- and pigment-based printers, Future Jet offers publishers and commercial printers excellent print quality on the greenest paper available.

“After extensive product development testing and industry collaboration, we’re thrilled in more ways than one with Future Jet. Not only did we develop the first coated recycled digital ink jet paper, but we’ve also created a product that performs beautifully with outstanding print fidelity,” said Steve Silver, President & CEO of FutureMark Paper Company. “Our testing on dye-based printers has revealed that Future Jet paper provides breakthrough print quality, with the added benefits of consuming less ink and no need for an extended media dryer.”

A pioneer in sustainable paper solutions, FutureMark tapped a group of leading paper and coating scientists to assist in the creation of the industry’s first coated digital inkjet paper made with more than 90% recycled fiber. Following two years of development and testing, the resulting Future Jet product offers a high quality recycled digital inkjet solution for book publishers, direct mail providers and commercial printers. Customer tests indicate Future Jet offers high print quality, even on four-color applications where there are demanding facial tones and heavy coverage forms.

FutureMark has tested Future Jet with various printers and digital inkjet OEMs, including Ricoh’s market-leading InfoPrint 5000 and Screen (USA). Future Jet will be on display at PRINT 2013 (September 8-12, 2013; McCormick Place; Chicago, IL) in Ricoh’s booth #1931.

“The combination of the InfoPrint 5000’s newly implemented print quality enhancements and FutureMark’s new recycled, digital paper offers printers a great alternative to support a wide range of printing needs,” said Mike Herold, World Wide Product Manager, Inkjet Solutions Ricoh. “We’re thrilled to showcase Future Jet on the Ricoh stand at PRINT 2013.”

Kenneth Ingram, Vice President, Sales of Screen (USA), added, “The Truepress Jet 520 inkjet press technology coupled with FutureMark’s Future Jet product are a perfect fit for the book market and direct mail applications, offering excellent color print fidelity on demanding four color projects at a very competitive cost per impression.”

Kodak, a digital printing pioneer, has been working with paper mills around the world for more than 25 years to test and develop media that will deliver optimized results on KODAK Printing Equipment. Future Jet has already been recognized by Kodak’s Paper Rating Program, which gave the product a 4 diamond rating on pigment inks, indicating that users will experience consistent, high-quality results.

Future Jet paper boasts a matte finish, a high brightness rating of 85 and at least 90 percent recycled content. Future Jet is available in 45 and 50 pound basis weights and is immediately available through Horizon Paper. For more information, the Future Jet product data sheet can be found at www.futuremarkpaper.com/products.html or contact Horizon at:FutureJet@horizonpaper.com.

“As a business development partner of Future Jet, we’ve seen the tremendous value of helping our customers expand their digital printing business into new markets with a recycled, digital inkjet paper that has ground-breaking print quality performance on dye inks,” stated Jeff Hansen, CEO at Horizon Paper Co., Inc., distributor of printing papers to book publishers, magazine and catalog publishers, printers, and retailers for free standing inserts. “We are excited with the initial acceptance of this new product in a variety of markets within our customer base and look forward to growing the business with FutureMark.”

About FutureMark Paper Group

FutureMark Paper Group is North America’s leading provider of responsibly made, high‐recycled paper. Through continuous green innovation, the group produces high‐quality, high‐performance printing and packaging papers with unmatched levels of recycled content. FutureMark’s recycled paper solutions help sustainability leaders uphold their environmental commitments while advancing their business goals. FutureMark Paper Group’s production centers are located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and in the Chicago metropolitan area. For more information, please visit www.FutureMarkPaper.com.

FutureMark is a registered trademark of FutureMark Paper Group, or an affiliate thereof, in the United States. All other trademarks used within this document are the property of their respective owners.

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FutureMark CEO Stephen Silver named 24 on PPI Magazine’s Power List http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-ceo-stephen-silver-named-24-on-ppi-magazines-power-list/ Fri, 12 Jul 2013 15:40:07 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=1237 The Power List Now in its sixth year, the Power List is not a popularity contest, nor is it a catalogue of the great and good in the industry.  What it is however is PPI’s own ‘editors choice’ mixed in with a lot of ideas from people they have talked to on the front line...

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The Power List

Now in its sixth year, the Power List is not a popularity contest, nor is it a catalogue of the great and good in the industry.  What it is however is PPI’s own ‘editors choice’ mixed in with a lot of ideas from people they have talked to on the front line about who (and what) are seen as major influencers in the global industry.

Stephen Silver, No. 24

The company has just celebrated the first anniversary of its acquisition of Manistique Papers (the mill will be profiled in an upcoming issue of PPI) and as it did with its Alsip, IL, mill has made significant improvements.  Since May 2012, the Manistique mill had hired 24 new people, added 60 new customers and reached a 5-yr high in production of recycled paper.  Silver has said that FutureMark had intended to implement the strategies that made Alsip successful so as to revitalize and grow Manistique and it looks thus far that the move has paid off.  The Alsip and Manistique mills are part of the FutureMark Paper Group but each are managed independently.  To go along with such familiar names as PepsiCo, Dell and American Airlines, in 2012, the company added Sam’s Club and Trader Joe’s.

 

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FutureMark Paper Group Pioneers Innovative Way to Protect Against Volatility in Globalized Waste Paper Markets http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-paper-group-pioneers-innovative-way-to-protect-against-volatility-in-globalized-waste-paper-markets/ Wed, 26 Jun 2013 21:09:32 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=1211 WESTPORT, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–June 25, 2013 FutureMark(R) Paper Group, North America’s leading provider of responsibly made recycled paper, revealed it is now securing approximately 50% of the recovered paper needed to run its business through long-term purchase agreements. The agreements, collectively worth more than $20 million per year, help FutureMark manage its costs for buying waste...

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WESTPORT, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–June 25, 2013

FutureMark(R) Paper Group, North America’s leading provider of responsibly made recycled paper, revealed it is now securing approximately 50% of the recovered paper needed to run its business through long-term purchase agreements. The agreements, collectively worth more than $20 million per year, help FutureMark manage its costs for buying waste paper, which is the company’s single largest operational expense. The long-term agreements also greatly reduce FutureMark’s exposure to wild swings in waste paper costs, which have fluctuated by more than 300% within two-year cycles, and provide the same benefits to its suppliers when markets tumble.

FutureMark has signed 10 long-term agreements for buying the recovered paper needed to make the company’s 90% to 100% recycled paper. Each agreement lasts for two or three years and establishes a stable cost, regardless of how dramatically recovered paper markets rise or fall over the life of the agreement.

“These types of agreements are highly unusual–maybe even unheard of–in recovered paper markets, but we believe they’re going to be instrumental in ensuring the long-term health of U.S. recycled paper companies,” said Steve Silver, President and CEO of FutureMark Paper Group. “Until FutureMark pioneered these long-term waste paper sourcing agreements for our two manufacturing facilities, no recycled paper company could gain this level of supply assurance or cost predictability. These agreements are an insurance policy against the extreme volatility of globalized waste paper markets–for both us and our suppliers.”

“We’re very pleased with the agreements we have reached with FutureMark, as it provides a stable outlet for our clients’ recovered fiber, as well as a predictable revenue stream for our company,” stated Don Majka, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Waste Management — one of the firms with whom FutureMark has signed long-term purchase agreements. “Beyond protecting our business against market fluctuations, it also frees our team from the typical monthly negotiations and administration. It’s a win-win all around.”

Volatile waste paper costs–and the financial uncertainty that comes with it–have contributed to the bankruptcies of several recycled paper mills over the past few years. High waste paper prices also played a role in the bankruptcy of Manistique Papers in 2011. Manistique Papers was purchased from bankruptcy and integrated into FutureMark Paper Group in 2012.

As part of FutureMark Paper Group, the Manistique mill is now experiencing a revival. It has hired 24 people since joining the Group. It has also made significant strides in product quality and manufacturing efficiency, boosting productivity on its paper machine by 11%.

Stabilizing the Manistique facility’s recovered paper costs was a strategic priority for FutureMark to ensure the mill’s long-term health. FutureMark has negotiated several multiyear, cost-stabilized recovered paper purchase agreements for its Manistique production center.

“These long-term sourcing agreements will insulate us from inevitable swings in the waste paper market,” said Jon Johnson, Executive VP & General Manager, FutureMark Manistique. “By locking down a predictable cost for our waste paper through these agreements, we gain far greater accuracy in forecasting our operating costs. Knowing what our costs will be six months or two years from now is critical for business planning and for ensuring the continued financial strength of our business.”

By establishing multiyear, stable cost agreements for recovered paper, FutureMark and its suppliers can reduce the time spent negotiating monthly transactions for recovered paper and can allocate their time instead to other value-added business activities.

FutureMark’s Manistique production center fulfills more than 40% of its recovered paper needs though cost-stabilized long-term agreements. FutureMark’s production center for coated paper in Alsip, Ill., just outside Chicago, secures about 60% of its annual recovered paper needs through similar agreements.

About FutureMark Paper Group

FutureMark Paper Group is North America’s leading provider of responsibly made, high–recycled paper. Through continuous green innovation, the group produces high–quality, high–performance printing and packaging papers with unmatched levels of recycled content. FutureMark’s recycled paper solutions help sustainability leaders uphold their environmental commitments while advancing their business goals. FutureMark Paper Group’s production centers are located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and in the Chicago metropolitan area. For more information, please visit www.FutureMarkPaper.com.

FutureMark is a registered trademark of FutureMark Paper Group, or an affiliate thereof, in the United States. All other trademarks used within this document are the property of their respective owners.

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FutureMark Paper Group Celebrates Anniversary of Manistique Paper Acquisition http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-paper-group-celebrates-anniversary-of-manistique-paper-acquisition/ http://www.watermill.com/futuremark-paper-group-celebrates-anniversary-of-manistique-paper-acquisition/#comments Wed, 22 May 2013 14:11:23 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=1116 Manistique, MI—May 21, 2013—FutureMark® Paper Group, North America’s leading provider of responsibly made recycled paper, celebrated the one year anniversary of the acquisition of Manistique Papers. FutureMark Manistique is the sole North American producer of exclusively 100% recycled uncoated printing and packaging papers. Since the completion of the sale in May 2012, the FutureMark Manistique...

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Manistique, MI—May 21, 2013—FutureMark® Paper Group, North America’s leading provider of responsibly made recycled paper, celebrated the one year anniversary of the acquisition of Manistique Papers. FutureMark Manistique is the sole North American producer of exclusively 100% recycled uncoated printing and packaging papers.

Since the completion of the sale in May 2012, the FutureMark Manistique facility has completed 24 new hires – representing a 20 percent increase in its staff. In addition, the facility’s management has implemented new maintenance programs and purchased new production equipment, with plans for additional capital investment to further improve product quality and production efficiency. As a result of these improvements, the FutureMark Manistique facility has added 60 new customers over the course of the year, and reached a 5 year high in total tonnage of recycled paper manufactured per day.

“It has been a rewarding experience to join the FutureMark Paper Group team,” stated Jon Johnson, Executive VP & General Manager, FutureMark Manistique. “Our facility has made significant strides in the first year to increase production, improve quality and expand the workforce with individuals who take pride in being part of an environmentally-focused company. We have many projects on the horizon to further enhance the unique position the Manistique mill has as a 100% recycled specialty paper producer.”

“We are very pleased with the results of our new banking relationship with FutureMark Paper Group and The Watermill Group,” said Kelly George, President and CEO at mBank, the lead lender and facilitator in the sale of Manistique Papers. “This was a tremendous undertaking by all involved, and the various teams worked tirelessly to ensure a smooth transition and positive results for the mill, as well as the community in whole. We look forward to the future growth of the mill and our ongoing relationship with The Watermill Group and wish them great success.”

FutureMark’s Manistique facility is a 72-acre manufacturing site that can produce up to 500 tons of recycled pulp per day and approximately 130,000 tons per year of uncoated, 100-percent recycled paper. The mill originally opened in 1920 as a newsprint producer. It began using old newspapers as a fiber source in 1959 and switched to using exclusively recycled fiber in its products in 1984. Approximately 14 years later, the facility benefited from a $13 million investment to enable it to produce high-brightness specialty papers .

 

 

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Watermill Group Wins Community Impact Award for Saving Michigan Paper Mill and 140 Jobs http://www.watermill.com/watermill-group-wins-community-impact-award-for-saving-michigan-paper-mill-and-140-jobs/ Mon, 18 Mar 2013 15:40:25 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=963 Watermill Recognized for Acquisition of Manistique Papers, Inc. Lexington, Mass. – March 18, 2013 – The Watermill Group is the proud recipient of the Restructuring Community Impact Award at the 7th Annual M&A Advisor Turnaround Awards for the firm’s acquisition of Manistique Papers. “The award winners represent the best of the M&A industry in 2012...

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Watermill Recognized for Acquisition of Manistique Papers, Inc.

Lexington, Mass. – March 18, 2013 – The Watermill Group is the proud recipient of the Restructuring Community Impact Award at the 7th Annual M&A Advisor Turnaround Awards for the firm’s acquisition of Manistique Papers.
“The award winners represent the best of the M&A industry in 2012 and earned these honors by standing out in a group of very impressive finalists,” said Roger Aguinaldo, CEO of The M&A Advisor. “From lower middle-market to multi-billion dollar deals, we have recognized the leading transactions, firms and individuals that represent the highest levels of performance.”
In May of 2012, The Watermill Group acquired Manistique Papers, the only paper mill in North America producing high-value uncoated printing and writing paper exclusively from 100% recycled fiber. The mill, which currently employs 140 people, is the largest private employer in Michigan’s Schoolcraft County and an economic pillar for the region.
“We are honored to be recognized through this award for our work with the Manistique mill,” said Steven Karol, Founder and Managing Partner of The Watermill Group. “When we first discovered Manistique Papers, not only did we see a promising opportunity to revive an underperforming business, we also saw an exciting opportunity to revive an institution that’s the lifeblood of its community and region.”
The Watermill Group is applying its hallmark approach of combining unique strategic insight and management expertise to set the Manistique mill on a path of stability and growth. Watermill teamed its Manistique mill with another recycled mill in its portfolio, FutureMark Paper Company, to establish the most comprehensive line of coated and uncoated recycled printing papers made in North America. The two mills now operate in concert as FutureMark Paper Group, the leading North American provider of responsibly made recycled paper for books and magazines, as well as for commercial printing and packaging applications

A Prime Example of Public-Private Partnership

The Manistique mill had been forced into bankruptcy in 2011, when its credit line was unexpectedly pulled. The Manistique mill was faced with liquidation and the permanent loss of about 150 jobs. As an economic engine for the region, the mill’s loss would have had devastating consequences on the close-knit community of Manistique, Mich., and on neighboring towns.
With just one day to spare in a seven-day deadline to rescue the mill, the mill’s management team partnered with a local bank, mBank, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to reach a deal with the previous lender to find a buyer. The Watermill Group acquired the Manistique mill in May, 2012, at a 363 Auction. The firm forged a cross-sector partnership with mBank and the MEDC to develop an effective and flexible financing structure.
“The Manistique acquisition was remarkable for how it brought together government entities, company management and the town to save this local institution,” said Robert Ackerman, a partner at The Watermill Group. “The community’s determination not only to save the mill, but to turn it into a sustainable, growing operation was truly impressive to us. It was a privilege to partner with mBank, the management team and the State of Michigan on this unusual cross-sector relationship.”

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Manistique Michigan Wins RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize http://www.watermill.com/manistique-michigan-wins-rwjf-roadmaps-to-health-prize/ Fri, 22 Feb 2013 22:11:04 +0000 http://www.watermill.com/?p=945 Manistique is a winner of the inaugural RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize. The prize honors outstanding community partnerships, which are helping people live healthier lives. Empowering People and Inspiring Change The legions of tourists who visit Manistique, Mich., each year invariably head to the city’s best known recreational sites including the Seney Wildlife Refuge, multiple...

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Manistique is a winner of the inaugural RWJF Roadmaps to Health Prize. The prize honors outstanding community partnerships, which are helping people live healthier lives.

Empowering People and Inspiring Change

The legions of tourists who visit Manistique, Mich., each year invariably head to the city’s best known recreational sites including the Seney Wildlife Refuge, multiple lighthouses, a shoreline boardwalk and the Hiawatha National Forest, which gets over 1.5 million visits a year. And while those stops offer great views, fine fishing and some of the prettiest walks in the U.S., it will take a visit to the three miles of new sidewalks, the weekly school-based Zumba classes and walking groups and the newly created farmers’ markets to truly see the most exciting things happening to the city of Manistique and its almost 4,000 residents.

In just the last four years, Manistique has made great progress toward improving the health of the entire community, with a targeted focus on increasing access to physical activity and healthier foods. This effort was powered initially by funding from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant to the Sault (pronounced Sioux) tribe, who have members living on a reservation in the area, as well as integrated within the greater community.

Improving the Health of the Entire Community

Other recent health-oriented changes in Manistique include “Walk Manistique” signs throughout the region to encourage walking instead of driving, a partnership arrangement that allows veterans to get vision services at the Manistique Tribal Health Center, and the beautiful, and aptly named, Central Park, a new 40-acre haven that includes walking and nature trails, a baseball field and swimming, beach and fishing piers, all on the site of a formerly fallow dumping ground.

Passion and Collaboration Fuel Change

Neither the Sault tribe leaders nor the greater community fully imagined the size and sizzle of the changes now in place when the tribe hired health educator Kerry Ott, MA, CHES, now the Community Coordinator for the Sault Tribes Strategic Alliance for Health Project. But there’s no doubt, says Ott, that the passion and zeal that helped find a new buyer to keep one of the area’s largest employers—the Manistique Papers, Inc. paper mill—from closing is also fueling the success of so many recent projects.

“A cloud of gloom went over everybody when we heard about the paper mill’s bankruptcy because that would destroy this community “says Ott. “But the next morning there was already a different feeling in the town as leaders in the community—from the bank to the governor’s office and everyone in between—put together a plan. It was absolutely incredible,” Ott says. “The mill got a new buyer and they’re hiring, which is phenomenal. It’s such a living, breathing example of the collaborative power that is in this small town to make things happen.”

Ott says Manistique, which ranked 60 out of 82 counties in Michigan in last year’s County Health Rankings, battles many of the same chronic conditions that plague towns and cities across the rest of the nation. “We’re struggling with diabetes and obesity and an aging population, but the tribal and community leaders had been trying to address those issues for years, so they were so ready for broader community-based efforts.”

You can tell just how seriously the Sault tribal leaders took their health improvement goals from the job description they created for Ott’s position. Instead of looking for a health educator to do one on one health counseling, the leaders sought out someone with expertise in community health promotion. “They wanted someone who could take a community-based approach to public health,” said Ott.

A Community Approach to Health

Change takes time, but Ott says the city is slowly but surely making environmental changes and systems changes that give people access to healthier foods and physical activity without having to really change their daily routines very much.

“We have a lot of people from a lot of different agencies and just plain old residents of Manistique who are excited about this work. They would take the ideas we stressed and bring them back to their agencies—the hospital, the senior center—and that helped the ideas spread so much faster through the community.”
In 2009, soon after Ott arrived, the city brought in the legendary walkability expert, Dan Burden, who took leaders and residents on a “walking audit” in Manistique and pointed out barriers such as sidewalks that stop in the grass and pose a problem for everyone—someone in a wheelchair, or an able bodied person trying to walk that street when it’s muddy or full of snow.

Ott says the city started from the walking audit and “jumped from there” to implementing a safe routes to school project with the Manistique area schools, and says “that started more people talking.” Next on the list was a non-motorized transportation plan with an engineering firm and a focus group in Manistique. Ott says, “we made sure we had all levels of users as part of that focus group to tell us what’s wrong with the non-motorized transportation access in Manistique and what their greatest dreams are.” The city council adopted the non-motorized transportation plan last year.

A Plan for Healthier Schools

The CDC grant also included a provision for working in the local schools. Missing a coordinated school health team, the community put one together and for the last three years they have been working on the same goals as they have for the greater community—easier access to physical activity and healthier foods. “We’ve worked on improving the school breakfast and getting more kids to school for breakfast and we’re making some changes in the school lunch program as well as buying local produce for school meals.”

Chris Marana, Physical Education Teacher at Emerald Elementary School, says the changes have empowered the kids. “We want them excited because we want them to be able to take that home and share that excitement with their parents and their families and then be able to sustain their enthusiasm and that level of activity, as they get older,” said Marana.

 Better Health for Better Business

Critical to Manistique’s current redevelopment has been the partnerships among all the sectors of the community. It’s clear that sidewalks are really good for the health of the community. But what cemented the deal to get them built for many area partners, says Sheila Aldrich, Manistique City Manager, is that it was also good for the economic health of the community. “Great looking sidewalks and beautiful streets entice businesses and families to move here.”

“The other thing we’re doing when we talk to local businesses is letting them know that a healthier population means a healthier workforce. They’re stronger; they have less sick days that are more productive, and there are fewer health care costs to the employer. So all of these things are beneficial in both directions. A strong economy, a strong population, they go hand in hand,” said Ott.

One for All and All for One

None of the changes would have been possible, though, if the Sault tribe hadn’t see their role in the larger community. “We have our own distinct community, but we are very much a part of the larger community,” said Aaron Payment, Chairperson for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. “A lot of our members are inter-married with non-tribal people, and so we are the community and we’re integrated in the community. Anything that benefits us benefits the larger community and vice versa.”

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