GBIG NEWS ST. Paper, LLC. Interview and Tour of the facility in Duluth, MN. on January 19, 2022
I met with Ron Thiry the Sr. VP and COO and Gary Wargin, Mill Manager at ST. Paper 1, LLC in Duluth MN. St Paper 1, LLC. purchased the paper mill from Verso in May 2021. The initial conversion phase, Project Bluewater, will involve the installation of a new tissue machine to transition the mill from production of SC grades to bathroom tissue, napkin and towel grades. Initially, ST. Paper LLC. was founded by Sharad Tak and his son Sahil Tak when they purchased the Oconto Falls mill in 2007. The new owners and management team invested in the mill and soon returned it to financial viability. ST. Paper, LLC. manufactures tissue, napkin and paper towels for the away from home market using 100% recycled wastepaper producing jumbo rolls. In 2012, the Tak’s expanded by creating ST Tissue LLC when they purchased a portion of a shuttered paper mill in Isle of Wight, VA from International Paper Company. It was a feat of innovation that never has been accomplished by converting an over 300” fine printing paper machine to a light tissue mill! The project was completed in 2013. In 2017 ST. Tissue LLC announced the conversion of a second fine paper machine to make tissue grades at the – Isle of Wight, VA mill. The Virginia mill also produces parent rolls primarily for the away home tissue market.
I traveled up to visit their newest acquisition in January 2022 to Duluth, MN, the former Verso Paper Mill. I had the opportunity of spending an afternoon and dinner with Ron Thiry and Gary Wargin talking about the paper mill and the plans for it. The Mill had one paper machine 300” wide and producing lightweight SC ground wood papers for the printing markets. In addition, the mill has one ground wood pulping facility and one recycled pulping facility to support their paper production. ST. Paper 1, LLC. will be installing a brand new 210” Andritz tissue machine at this facility with a scheduled completion date in the 4th quarter of 2022. The new machine will have the capability to produce parent roll products of tissue with 100% recycled fiber, virgin fiber or blends! They will be able to use their current pulping facilities to support their production by getting scrap paper from a three state region – Twin Cities, Chicago and Milwaukee of Sorted Office Waste and OCC. At this point in time, they do not have plans for the ground wood pulping facilities since the pulp too coarse for tissue products. They have a variety of options for revitalizing the original paper machine. If they decide on converting the machine to tissue production, they have the experience and talent to do so! However, their primary focus at this time is to put all their efforts to install and get the brand new tissue machine up and running. ST Paper, Duluth has the people in place, the talent and they are bringing back skilled and experience technicians to achieve a successful project.