Mill closure may shutter supplier

Published 8:26 am Wednesday, March 17, 2010

FRANKLIN—Caraustar Industries Inc., an Atlanta-based recycled packaging company that operates a facility in Franklin, announced Thursday that it has entered into a partnership with Column Form Technology Inc. of Sun Valley, Calif.

Caraustar will market and sell CFT’s Column Cast System in North America, but the partnership won’t benefit the Franklin plant.

Thomas Falconer, Franklin plant manager, said the plant on Carrsville Highway makes paper mill cores for the International Paper Co. mill, located less than a mile away. He indicated that the plant may have to close after IP shuts down the mill next month.

If Caraustar closes its Franklin plant, 14 jobs would be lost.

John Lea, Caraustar’s vice president for national sales and construction products, said in a written statement Thursday that Column Cast “offers a revolutionary new process that yields all the benefits of a true ‘cast-in-place’ concrete post/column, utilizing a highly efficient design, which results in significant labor savings.”

During a subsequent interview Friday, Lea said the new product “is completely unrelated to our major raw material that we use, which is paper. There’s absolutely no paper used in this product. It’s a brand new venture for Caraustar and it pertains to the construction industry.”

The Franklin plant “really won’t be affected by it at all,” Lea said. “This is a company that we have gone into a partnership with as far as distributing a product and materials that will be manufactured all over North America, but not specific to any of our facilities.”

Lea said Column Cast would enable the manufacture of concrete columns in shapes other than round — including square, hexagonal and oblong — and without the spiral “seam” that is typically seen with other forms.

Caraustar manufactures several types of construction products, including fiber forms made of 100 percent recycled paperboard.

“(Column Cast) really won’t be competitive to our paper tubes but will actually broaden the market for pouring round concrete columns,” Lea said.