Green Bay Innovation Group

June 19th, 2024 Newsletter

Read the June 19th, 2024 Green Bay Innovation Group Newsletter here.

GBIG NEWS | 84 Stories and Links on the Internet 6/19/2024


Get links to the latest news, events, stories, and interviews from our 5P news sponsors. Our goal is to remind the decision-makers in Wisconsin of the importance of our industry both historically, and more importantly, into the future.

Read the latest 84 Stories and Links on the Internet below.


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UW Madison

Madison Area Tour






CUWP Annual Meeting: Presentation Slides

Craig H. Benson, Horacio Aguirre-Villegas,
and Sabrina L. Bradshaw,
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Robert Brown,
Xianglan Bai,
Tannon Daugaard, Saad Aftab,
Jessica Brown,
Harish Radhakrishnan,
and Ryan Smith

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Andrew Greenberg, PhD,
Distinguished Teaching Faculty
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Dr. Ive Hermans,
Department of Chemistry,
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering,
Wisconsin Energy Institute

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Professor George W. Huber
Director Center for Chemical Upcycling of Waste Plastics,
University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering

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Jiaze Ma,
Pallavi Dubey,
Victor Zavala,
Mark Mba Wright

View Slide Presentation

Marco A. Sánchez-Castillo, Sergio A. Gómez-Torres, José A. de los Reyes Heredia, Clara Ma. Martínez, y Luis E. Gallegos Castro

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Reid C. Van Lehn,
University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Guinevere (Gwen) Tillinghast,
Jonathan Rothstein,
H. Henning Winter
University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst)

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Victor M. Zavala,
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison

View Slide Presentation

What happened to the Paper and Pulp Mills in the United States once the worldwide leaders in paper Manufacturing?

Although disheartening, Billerud’s announcement not to proceed with a billion-dollar expansion should come as no surprise. As stated by Billerud President and CEO Ivar Vatne, “After in-depth feasibility studies, evaluations, and supplier discussions, we have concluded that the projected return on investment is not sufficiently attractive to proceed with the conversion of Escanaba to cartonboard production.” Several people and organizations like GLTPA, MAT, INVEST UP, MEDC and others worked for months supplying letters of support and lobbying efforts to assist in any way possible to make the conversion a viable project. Their decision is based on economics and perhaps a clear understanding of the United States business climate. The good news is that the mill will remain in operation with smaller investments made for upgrades to supplement the growing containerboard industry.

Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association logo

At the direction of a small group of squeaky wheels, current and past administrations with their executive order pens bypassing Congress, continue to do nothing short of slowly dismantling the forest industry and demolishing the forests themselves. Clearly some administrations like the current one operate more on human emotion than science but no administrations in recent history since President Theadore Roosevelt have stepped up to fully support the forest industry. The push to revamp Forest Service Forest Management Plans to include “Old Growth” and “Mature” forests along with EPA rules such as “The Good Neighbor Plan, “and “PM 2.5,” have contributed to further deterioration of the wood consuming infrastructure, increased the cost of doing business exponentially, and eliminated access to forests in dire need of forest management to remain healthy. All evidence of the current unstable business climate.

The cost of equipment, parts, labor, trucks, and general living expenses have increased a minimum of 36% or more within the last 4 years and costs continue to rise annually with no end in sight. All of which has been experienced by every forest industry association member throughout the United States. Increased costs of constructing a new production line are one thing Billerud has mentioned consistently in its presentations and again in their recent press release announcing the cancellation of the Escanaba mill conversion. Imagine budgeting $1 billion for a project only to have the cost increase by 36% before completion. That’s like ordering a new forest machine without knowing what the price is until it is delivered and being locked into a binding contract to accept it. It is this type of uncertainty that deters investment by industry and individuals.

In addition, forests and fields in the United States must now compete with billions of subsidized dollars authorized by the federal government for their very existence. Think about it, how many thousands of acres have been cleared or consumed by solar panels, wind turbines, and housing, two of which have been subsidized under the falsehood of “saving the planet.” If these alternate forms of energy had to perform competitively to sell electricity, they couldn’t do it.

The lack of tariffs on foreign products coming to the US is atrocious. American Loggers Council reported the U.S. is now the number one importer of softwood lumber. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) the U.S. is still a number one importer of Russian Birch. How is this possible? Didn’t FSC and PEFC declare that any timber originating from the Russian/Ukraine invasion be declared “conflict timber?” Didn’t the European Union ban all timber imports from a Russian origin, and didn’t U.S. legislators strip Russia of its most favored nation status causing tariffs to increase by 50 %? This may all be true however, Russia’s birch according to EIA, is now going from Russia to China to Vietnam to the U.S. The term used for this wood is “Baltic Birch” which is apparently untraceable. If the EIA can trace it why can’t the U.S. government?

A long-time trend is foreign companies purchasing U.S. companies to get around tariffs. Canada owns multiple U.S. sawmills which is about buying out the competition to own the market. According to the Billerud press release and supported by market reports, they are shipping containerboard to the U.S., but it will not be produced here. While this is going on, U.S. companies are being forced into compliance with more regulation like the European Union Deforestation Rule which will be an additional cost making the U.S. less competitive.

On the paper side Green Bay Innovation Group has consistently reported that China either owns multiple American paper companies or China is suppling thousands of tons of paper to U.S. consumers without appreciable tariffs. China has banned logging of its forests, so where is its wood coming from? The Chinese government is replacing multiple antiquated paper mills with state-of-the-art facilities whereby production is increased making them more efficient. How much support does the paper industry receive from the federal government or in some cases state government? I do not know but all indicators are that it’s little to none. Remember the Park Falls Paper Mill? I rest my case.

According to a LinkedIn post by Marcello Collares’, Sales, Strategy, New Business Vice President at Fisher International, Inc. “The American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) has released the 64th Paper Industry Annual Capacity and Fiber Consumption Survey, providing data on U.S. paper industry. “Four machines totaling 2.1 million tons of containerboard and packaging paper capacity started up during 2023, all using 100 percent recycled fiber. However, more than 1.7 million tons of capacity, mostly using wood fiber, was permanently removed in 2023 as the industry faced demand weakness from customer destocking and economic headwinds.” That helps explain why Michigan loggers cash flow, conservatively, dropped around $60 million since 2021 and that does not include income lost since the closing of Wisconsin Rapids.

While the U.S. is falling behind for the various stated reasons, Brazil, Chile, and others are expanding. On May 2nd, 2024, “PaperAge” reported that CPMC signed an agreement with the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil for a project to include a new pulp mill. The project, as stated in the article, is an investment of approximately $4 billion. On April 26th, 2024, “Tissue Online” reported that Eldorado announced R$ 25 billion investments for the construction of a new mill in Brazil. The facility will increase production from 1.8 million tons to 4.4 million tons of pulp. The construction will create 10,000 jobs with an additional 2,000 jobs when the project is completed. Included with the addition of the mill in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, the company plans to build a 90-kilometer railroad. Another LinkedIn post from UPM states the following “Exciting news! UPM’s first pulp transport by rail ran successfully in Uruguay this week when a train consisting of a locomotive and 14 wagons travelled from the Paso de los Toros pulp mill to UPM’s port terminal in Montevideo. This was also the maiden voyage of the Ferrocarril Central, Central Railway project of the Uruguayan Ministry of Transport and Public Works.”

On February 2, 2024, another article in “Tissue Online” states the following. “New pulp capacity additions in the global market, such as UPM’s new mill in Uruguay, Arauco’s Mapa project in Chile, in addition to the imminent start-up of the Cerrado de Suzano project, are already being reflected in China, the destination of most of the raw material exported from Brazil and responsible for setting the price trend in the sector. The commodity has been tight for approximately eight consecutive months and is currently losing strength in the Chinese market, although it is still holding up in Europe and the United States. Despite this context, producers claim that there is room to implement the increases announced for the first months of the year. Among them, Suzano recently announced a pulp price adjustment for February, although only for the European and North American markets. The company’s new mill, located in Ribas do Rio Pardo (MS), will have an installed capacity of 2.55 million tons and is expected to start operations at the end of the first half of the year.”

“The company will add a significant volume to the supply, which generates an expectation of price volatility, even with a gradual entry into the market. By 2024, Suzano expects to sell around 700 thousand tons of the new mills production.” In addition to building new mills, “Valor International Business” reported that Suzano made a $15 Billion offer to purchase International Paper which is an American company. The article states the potential purchase is “a significant step in its internationalization strategy.” Based on experience what this means is that more U.S. pulp capacity will be lost and will be supplied by their new, more efficient mills in Brazil.

While some may read this as a lot of negative news, it is intended as a long-overdue report to show that we truly are in a global market which is something the GLTPA Board of Directors knows and understands better than most because they are more exposed to it. Ever hear that saying that states “There are three types of people in the world, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what the hell did happen.” An example of those trying to make things happen are folks like the GLTPA/FISTA Boards and Timber Professionals Cooperative Enterprises. Those who are watching things happen are the bystanders waiting for someone else to make the first move, and those who wonder what the hell did happen are those who do not like change and sit around reminiscing and wishing things could go back to the way they were 20 or 30 years ago.

While it is human nature to protect one’s own piece of the pie as it stands today, the world around us is capitalizing on U.S. inefficiencies, and gaining market share of pulp production which should be based in the United States just like the softwood lumber production which is now imported at the highest amount ever. Why aren’t U.S. companies buying Brazilian or Chilean companies? Whatever the reason, the tide needs to turn if there is any hope of having healthy forests for the future.

Uruguay starts a new rail system with special cars for hauling pulp to the port for global shipment. Meanwhile, the Great Lakes Region struggles to replace short line rail after a major carrier decides running coast to coast is more profitable. Truck weights are all over the board. According to internet information, Finland weights run from 61,600 lbs. on 3 axles to 167,200 lbs. on High-Capacity Vehicles. Canada hauls from 102,300 lbs. on a tractor semitrailer to 138,380 lbs. on a truck and full trailer. Brazil hauls 88,000 lbs. on a Tractor Truck, 125,400 lbs. on a B-Train, and 162,800 lbs. on a Long Combination Vehicle. The only weights found for Uruguay and Chile was that they are placing 99,000 lbs. in intermodal containers for transport. And of course, Michigan comes in 164,000 lbs.

I have always been a firm believer that if a person or organization is looking for a certain result, the prudent thing to do is find someone who has that result, do what they did, and get that result. Since Brazil seems to be leading the pack, maybe it’s time for a group of loggers, mill representatives, and trucking specialists to go to Brazil together and see what they’re doing firsthand. Granted, the Great Lakes Region will not be able to grow the timber as fast, but the trees must still be harvested, transported, and made into something before real value is added. Although depleted in comparison to ten or twenty years ago, the Great Lakes Region is fortunate enough to have forests, a mill infrastructure, and logging capacity left. Based on the examples within this message, internationalization is in full swing. The choices are that we can either make things happen or watch things happen for a while longer and hope the tide turns on its own, or wind up sitting on the porch reminiscing about the good ole days.

Until next month,

Henry Schienebeck, Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association

Sure Controls Celebrates 40 Years of Innovation and Growth with New Facility Opening

For Immediate Release

June 3, 2024 – [Greenville, Wisconsin] – Sure Controls is proud to announce its 40th anniversary, marking four decades of empowering world-class manufacturing through innovative automation solutions. In conjunction with this significant milestone, Sure Controls has opened a second facility, further solidifying its commitment to meeting and exceeding customer needs.

Sure Controls Inc logo

Maximizing operational efficiency while minimizing costs is a perpetual challenge for Manufacturers. Sure Controls’ tailored engineering and distribution services streamline processes, reduce downtime, and enhance overall productivity.

Since its founding in 1984, Sure Controls has become a trusted partner in the industrial sector, offering a comprehensive range of solutions focusing on web handling, robotics, Industry 4.0 and thermal & fluid processes.

Terry Brei, Owner and President of Sure Controls, commented:

Key Achievements and Milestones:

  • Empowering North American Manufacturing Excellence: Sure Controls takes pride in playing a pivotal role providing cutting-edge industrial automation solutions. Sure Controls understands the difficulties manufacturers face in order to be successful and profitable. Our team of experts is committed to addressing these challenges head-on, ensuring our customers achieve their operational goals.
  • Commitment to Sustainable Growth: Consistent and sustainable growth has been the hallmark of Sure Controls since its inception in 1984. The opening of our new facility will allow us to continue expanding our capabilities and offerings, further positioning us as a leader in industrial automation solutions.
  • Recognized Industry Expertise: Over the years, Sure Controls has established itself as an industry expert through continual innovation and successful partnerships with numerous manufacturers across North America. Our expertise in web handling, robotics, Industry 4.0 and thermal & fluid processes has allowed us to provide tailored solutions that meet specific industry needs.

The New Facility:

Located in downtown Appleton, Wisconsin, the newly opened facility represents more than just an expansion; it’s a strategic move to enhance service delivery and customer support. Equipped with a state-of-the-art control panel shop and designed to foster innovation, the facility will allow Sure Controls to streamline operations and respond more swiftly to customer demands.

About Sure Controls:

For 40 years, Sure Controls has been at the forefront of the industrial automation industry, providing unparalleled expertise and innovative solutions to help manufacturers optimize processes and achieve operational excellence.

For more information about Sure Controls and its services, please visit or contact us at or 920-757-0500.

Media Contact:

Cassie Ashman
Sure Controls

SPL Consulting: Create Value as Part of your Exit Strategy

Creating Value as Part of your Exit Strategy

SPL Consulting, LLC logo

A significant part of exit planning includes developing internal talent for a seamless transition along with capitalizing on valuation improvement opportunities sooner than later. In Cornerstone Business Services State of M&A Shark Tank session, two important themes were mentioned. First, the deal the sharks reviewed was significantly hampered by senior leadership (multiple) planning to exit upon the sale without a clear line to next generation leadership. This left an insurmountable gap for risk of continuity. The second was future opportunities the seller said were there for buyer upside. A sentiment of skepticism was shared by the sharks; “If they knew the opportunity was there, why didn’t they do it?” These two key concerns prevented the sale and resulted in much lower valuation than the sellers thought their business was worth.

One of SPL Consulting, LLC’s clients had not given serious thought to succession planning. In fact, during the initial Assessment, we uncovered their daughter, who they assumed would take over the business, didn’t think she wanted to run it! The CEO, Karen, shared that “Through SPL’s process we created the development path for key members of the team and achieved vast improvement. Kevin is now the Director of Operations partnering with the Vice President, and between the two they oversee nearly every aspect of the business.” Karen also stated “SPL’s process showed us a way to look at each area of our business. We reviewed section by section what was working and what wasn’t. Lasting improvement was made by implementing the Strategic Plan. Not only did Brian help us create our plan, but he taught us how to instill a culture of discipline to follow through and execute.” This preparation, should they decide to sell, ensures continuity of leadership will not be a reason a buyer steps away.

In reference to the second concern the sharks shared, SPL Consulting, LLC’s experience has found many companies know where they are lacking in many instances, but just don’t have methodologies, know how or resources to manage the change effort and sustain it. One of our clients shared “We knew we had issues and what the big problems were, we just didn’t know how to go about making the change. We had a culture of frustration and spinning our wheels. We were good at identifying problem areas, talking about them and not proving able to improve them. SPL brought the “how” to do it. This included not only how to implement change but gave us processes to drive follow-up and verify plans were working and being followed. Most importantly, he showed us how to hold ourselves accountable for execution.”

SPL was honored to speak on the topic of using a lean concept called the Waste Walk as a foundational methodology to help companies “see” wasted time, motion, waiting, etc. The concept is to physically go into your business to observe and watch for the 8 lean wastes. I use this tool as part of every Lean Leadership Training we conduct. On average in a 30-minute observation, we observe 25 wastes. The COO was so moved by a waste he observed during the Waste Walk, that after the training he immediately went back to the work area to help eliminate the waste. This process is now something that all of their leaders regularly do as a requirement of their jobs. These observations shed light on the hidden profit being lost in your business everyday.

SPL Consulting, LLC. has the experience and methodology to help your company navigate these challenges. Whether succession planning to sell or maintain privately, developing true Strategic Action Plans, helping build a culture of execution, or identifying how you can capture improvements to drive up your own valuation and profits, we can be the partner you need. Be your own hero and reach out to explore the possibilities!

Brian Van de Water
SPL Consulting, LLC.

UW Engineering Sustainability Energy event in Appleton

The College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison had a special event on Thursday, May 30th in Appleton on Sustainable energy. The presentation, “Innovation for Sustainable Energy: Economic Perspectives,” explores how cutting-edge engineering research can drive economic growth and providing practical solutions for ALL companies. Oliver Schmitz Director of the Grainger Institute of Engineering spoke on Fusion Energy. The Green Bay Innovation Group will host Ben Lindley UW Madison Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering in September/October talking about Fusion Power.

UW Madison College of Engineering logo

That evening, University-Madison ambassadors celebrated 175 years of making an impact on future engineers and the Wisconsin Manufacturing Industry in Appleton, WI. Wisconsin is home to some of the greatest engineers in the USA. UW Madison ranks among the top fifteen engineering programs in the United States. UW Madison will be building a new 400,000 square feet building providing seven floors for engineering students. UW Madison has almost 48,000 students from all 50 U.S. States and around 6,000 international students from over 130 countries. UW Madison has approximately 4,500 undergraduates and 1,500 graduate students in Engineering.

UW Madison contributes about $30.8 billion per year to the Wisconsin economy, supporting 232,000 jobs and generating $1 billion in local and state taxes. Since 1990, UW Madison has created more than four hundred start-ups with an economic impact of $10 billion and $320 million in state and local tax revenue creating over 43,000 jobs. UW Madison is reaching out and collaborating with companies across the State providing employees and state of the art technologies!

GBIG News UW Madison Overview June 2024

CUWP logo

Green Bay Innovation Group has built a tremendous partnership with the University of Wisconsin Engineering Department. The (CUWP) Chemical Upcycling of Waste Plastics provides technical, environmental, and economic information on chemical recycling and plastic waste. CUWP had their Annual Meeting at the College of Engineering, Monday, May 13th to Wednesday May 15th with an impressive agenda. The United States is the world’s largest producer of plastic waste estimated at seventy-three million metric tons. By 2050, the US is projected to produce 138 million metric tons while global plastic is expected to increase to 977 million metric tons. The recycling infrastructure for plastics is dropping from 8.7% in 2018 to 5-6% in 2004.

The CUWP is a ten-million-dollar multi-university center funded by the Department of Energy with UW Madison leading the way. George Huber Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UW Madison is the Executive Director of CUWP developing STRAP technologies for hard to recycle multilayer films in packaging. Industry will need to work and develop solutions for recycling and the development of new plastic and packaging materials.

Wisconsin is a leader in the production of plastics and flexible packaging materials. Wisconsin’s plastic industries employ over 43,000 people with a payroll estimated at $2 Billion. The Wisconsin Flexible Packaging Industry is one of the largest producers of flexible packaging in the United States and the world!

Read Full CUWP OVerview

WPC 2024 Annual Meeting on June 19th in Green Bay

As you may know, our Annual Meeting is our largest event of the year which brings together our top executives, supply chain partners and other leaders from throughout the forest products industry to network and share ideas. We expect over 150 participants this year.

Wisconsin Paper Council logo

We have an exciting lineup this year that includes a Paper Industry International Hall of Fame awards ceremony and a mini-exposition featuring our supply chain partners and organizations that play a critical role for our industry.

In addition, our WPC staff will be providing updates on key issues impacting our manufacturing sector.

If you or any of your colleagues would like to join us for this exciting event, you can register through this link: WPC Annual Meeting Registration

There are also a number of exposition spaces and sponsorships still available – but the registration deadline is fast approaching!

Should you have any questions regarding this information please feel free to contact Scott Suder or our WPC Director of Operations, Shawn Brantmeier at

Please see the attached informational packet for our 2024 Annual Meeting.

View and Download Event Information

May 29th, 2024 Newsletter

Read the May 29th, 2024 Green Bay Innovation Group Newsletter here.

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