End of era; now transition begins

Published 8:34 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Well, an era has ended. The 123-year history of the famed and benevolent Camp Brothers — from Camp Manufacturing to Union Camp and finally International Paper — has reached its final crescendo as a world-class manufacturer of fine paper.

The finest in the land, made by the finest employees any company could dream of having. Thanks to the most recent 1,100 employees and the thousands of others who have over these 123 years put Franklin and Isle of Wight and Southampton counties on the world map of outstanding products and product development.

I think of the Jamestown Brand and the “Great White” among other products that earned worldwide acclaim as products of Union Camp Franklin. For all these years, quality products, quality performance and cost effectiveness have been the gold standards of these employees, this mill, this community.

Even under demands for cost reduction, these employees met and dramatically exceeded every benchmark thrown at them, earning bonuses in the midst of closure announcements. How much greater does that get?

On behalf of a grateful region, we are proud of the IP employees and their families who have served this mill for generations. Congratulations for your hard work and integrity right to the very end.

Well, this transition chapter in the Camp/Union Camp Franklin Mill is being written, but it is not the end of the book — now the final chapter.

As the sun sets on paper machines and paper making, there is a sunrise just now coming above the horizon. We can see the sun peeking just over the horizon, in an otherwise dark morning — beginning to spread a glimmer of light to awaiting communities.

Repurposing is active and being aggressively pursued. There will be sunshine as the process continues.

The sun will continue to rise, until in a few months, we will likely see the full sun shining brightly on new opportunities, new ventures and adventures. There will be new products, processes, job opportunities to fill the vacancies of once proud papermakers and support people in the world-class process.

If we keep our eyes on the rising sun of new opportunity many the days will be bright and opportunities will be abundant. “The field will be white already for harvest” as repurposing takes shape and becomes a reality.

Our thanks to all those who energetically engaged IP in this repurposing effort. The task is far from done — so watchful, persistent eyes are on the process to see that it reaches full potential for the employees to be re-employed and the communities to be reinvigorated, remade into the future of our choosing.

Our destiny is before us — for us to create.

May God bless us all in the process and especially those friends who must relocate to other mills away from here —their home.