Peninsula: PT Paper, other small mills work with pride

  • Monday, July 9, 2001 12:01am
  • News

BY Kim Eckart

PORT TOWNSEND — Posted on a wall inside the Port Townsend Paper Corp. are samples of the day's work: some two dozen grocery bags, lined up for inspection.

Across the Olympic Peninsula in Hoquiam, Grays Harbor Paper L.P. has framed the first white scrap that rolled off the machine eight years ago.

And in Sumner, the Sonoco Products Co. recycling plant displays empty frozen juice cans made from the paper the mill generates — gee-whiz examples for visitors.

Examples, in each case, of pride — the pride of small-town mills in producing items consumers around the Northwest use every day.

These three paper plants are among the smallest in the state, generating a total of less than 100,000 tons a year in their niche markets.

That's small by paper business standards: International Paper, the industry leader, prints more than 8 million tons a year of copy paper alone.

And yet, it's companies such as International Paper, or Weyerhaeuser Co. or Willamette Industries that a mill like Port Townsend or Grays Harbor must compete against.

What allows them to stay alive, those familiar with the business say, are the specialty markets they cultivate — an important strategy in an industry that in recent years has weathered an influx of imports, a glut in the marketplace and a drop in prices for mass-market “commodity” grades of paper and pulp.

This entire report appears in today's Peninsula News, on sale throughout Clallam and Jefferson counties. Or click on “Subscribe” to get your copy delivered to your home or office.

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