Manistique Makeover

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?

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This article was originally published by Pulp & Paper International.

September 16, 2013