IP to close plants in 3 states

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, October 15, 2008

FRANKLIN — Although International Paper Co. plans to close corrugated cardboard facilities in Ohio, Georgia and California before the end of the year, the moves will not have an effect on the Franklin mill, a spokesman for the company said Tuesday.

IP will close plants in Mason, Ohio, Stockbridge, Ga., and Hanford, Calif., by December, according to a report by the industry publication Packaging-Online. The report said the closures would affect 101 workers at Mason, 86 at Stockbridge, and 90 at Hanford. Some Hanford employees would be transferred to a sister plant in Exeter, Calif., the report said.

“These plant closings will have no effect on the Franklin mill,” said Desmond Stills, the mill’s communications manager.

The Franklin mill creates paper for printing and communications, while the plants being closed are in the packaging business, Stills said. He added that the closings were a direct result of IP’s decision earlier this year to purchase the corrugated box division of rival Weyerhaeuser.

“The combination of the former Weyerhaeuser and the existing International Paper corrugated box plants in the company’s portfolio created an overlap in the market and overcapacity, as compared to customer needs,” Stills said. The plant closings were an opportunity for IP to “streamline their capacity,” he added.

According to the Packaging-Online report, the three plants slated to close were some of IP’s smaller facilities, and each needed infrastructure improvements.

The layoffs come after IP announced in an Oct. 1 press release that the company would shut down, for at least three months, a containerboard machine at the Albany, Ore., mill on Oct. 5, idling 40 jobs there.

International Paper Co. is headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., and employs more than 65,000 people worldwide in more than 20 countries.

According to Stills, the printing and communications paper division — one of several at the Franklin mill — has 943 hourly and 173 salaried employees.