CEO: Resolute Forest focus is ‘tissue and pulp’

By LARRY C. BOWERS
Posted 5/26/19

Resolute Forest Products CEO Yves LaFlamme said the future of the Calhoun plant is "tissue and pulp."Resolute Forest Products stockholders, the  CEO, and other company officials visited the …

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CEO: Resolute Forest focus is ‘tissue and pulp’

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Resolute Forest Products CEO Yves LaFlamme said the future of the Calhoun plant is "tissue and pulp."

Resolute Forest Products stockholders, the  CEO, and other company officials visited the company's Calhoun operation alongside the Hiwassee River this week. The visit culminated with a short stockholders meeting Friday morning at Cleveland's Hampton Inn.

 Laflamme held a very brief interview session with local media, prior to departing Cleveland.

Questions asked were mainly about the Calhoun operation, the success of recent investments and changes, and future plans.

Among the questions of concern was the company's plan for newsprint in the future, since a significant cost increase and limited availability of the product, has hampered print publications in the Southeast Tennessee area.

Several area newspapers, including the Cleveland Daily Banner, have eliminated publication issues. Among the reasons for these changes are the cost and availability of newsprint.

Laflamme was very emphatic in declaring, "Newsprint is not the future of the Calhoun operation."

He was just as decisive in saying the company's future in Calhoun, with a recent investment for new machinery and changes is "tissue and pulp."

He did say things are going well at the facility here. He said it was a productive week including meetings with plant manager Scott Palmer. 

"Overall, it's been a good year," Laflamme said of the Resolute operations worldwide. He also indicated this does not include newsprint products.

"We've become strongly involved with pulp (and tissue)," he said.

He said involvement in newsprint has declined by a significant amount.

He indicated the company is fortunate with its new focus on tissue and pulp in Calhoun, and anticipates the changes will offset the significant investment. He said the tissue operation is at 70 to 75%.

Laflamme said Resolute has hired several new employees at the Calhoun facility, but most are replacements for some who have left, as well as a number of retirements.

He said the Calhoun workforce is handicapped at this time by the inexperience of the new workers.

The company's CEO said Palmer has suggested the possibility of some incentives, to keep potential retirees around for a period of time  to help train new workers.

According to company information, there are approximately 560 employees at the plant, and an estimated 1,706 indirect jobs.

Resolute recently invested more than $400 million in the Calhoun mill, to improve efficiency, add capacity, and install a new tissue manufacturing and conversion operation. This includes a $270  million tissue machine.

The mill was constructed in 1954. It is one of the largest pulp, paper and tissue manufacturing facilities in North America.



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