IP to close saw mill

Published 3:40 pm Tuesday, March 31, 2009

International Paper will close its Franklin saw mill by May 31, eliminating 123 jobs.

The company also announced Tuesday employee reductions at its sheet converting plant and Converting Innovation Center, or CIC.

The reductions at the sheet plant and CIC will affect approximately 25 and 10 employees, respectively. The reductions are scheduled to be completed by June 30.

“The company carefully reviewed all available options and ultimately determined that, due to the continued downturn in the U.S. lumber and housing market, continuing to operate the lumber mill was not economically feasible,” said Carl Buck, manager of the Franklin lumber mill. “We do not underestimate the impact of this decision on our hard-working employees who have always performed well, but unfortunately are caught up in a volatile economy. We will do all we can to assist them with any questions or concerns that arise during the closure process.”

International Paper’s decision to reduce the number of employees at its sheet plant and Converting Innovation Center is due to a lack of orders from customers, officials said.

“At times like these, our main concern is for the affected employees,” said Jim Shumate, manager of the sheet converting plant. “The team at our plant continues to operate well, yet our orders from our customers are down. Our company is committed to managing our supply to meet the needs of our customers, which is the driving force behind this business decision. It in no way reflects the hard work and dedication of our outstanding sheeter team.”

“Our Converting Innovation Center team is top-rate,” said Chris Schafer, manager, CIC. “Our group of dedicated employees recently surpassed more than four years without an OSHA recordable safety incident, which is a testament to the dedication in the way our team members perform their jobs every day. We will provide the affected employees with as much information as possible and will be assisting them through this difficult process.”