PORT ANGELES – McKinley Paper Co. officials aim to increase the plant’s workforce to 200 by Labor Day, hoping to hire around 20 more employees, which would almost double the number of employees compared to the reopening of the factory by McKinley in February 2020.
McKinley’s director of human resources Pete Johnson on Wednesday appealed to workers at the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce’s first in-person lunch since COVID-19 collection restrictions were imposed in March 2020.
McKinley is a privately held company owned by Mexican paper products giant Bio Pappel, the largest manufacturer of paper and paper products in Mexico and Latin America, which operates a similar plant in New Mexico.
Bio Pappel purchased the 101-year-old plant from Nippon Industries USA in April 2017, converting it from a production line of broken newsprint and phone book paper to container-grade brown paper and containerboard produced with recycled paper and cardboard.
Twenty-four Japanese employees were on site as of April 2017, Johnson said.
“Nippon’s goal was to be the last man standing in this market,” he said in a slide presentation.
“McKinley came to the rescue, bought the facility, and began the process of converting to brown paper – think Amazon boxes.
McKinley opened in February 2020 with 120 employees.
“Right now we have over 180 employees,” he said to the applause of the 40 lunch attendees.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t hit 200 by Labor Day.
“It all depends on the direction of the paper market. Right now, it’s exceptionally good.
“We still have challenges ahead, and if you know of anyone who needs a job and wants to be a long-term employee, please bring them in and fill out an application.”
The work schedules consist of two day shifts each from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., two night shifts from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and four days off.
“We have seen tremendous progress and we will not rest until we meet the targets set by our parent companies,” he said.
The company announced in September 2018 its intention to produce 250,000 tonnes of containerboard at the Ediz Hook plant, doubling its overall national capacity and increasing its annual capacity to 2 million tonnes in Mexico and the United States. .
Johnson referred all media inquiries to McKinley’s offices in New Mexico.
McKinley bought the plant from Japanese company Nippon for $ 20.6 million, including the $ 91 million biomass cogeneration plant that Nippon completed in 2013 after initially estimating it would cost $ 71 million. .
Japan and boiler maker FSE Energy have reached an undisclosed settlement regarding the cracked biomass boiler at the cogeneration plant.
The cogeneration plant was to produce 9.5 megawatts of electricity.
Johnson said the wood waste, or untreated wood waste debris, feeds the cogeneration plant, which produces steam for use in the plant, where two paper machines are in operation.
His presentation was preceded by a Bio Pappel promotional film on the company’s global operations that recalls the McKinley purchase in 2017 and touts his focus on environmental stewardship.
“We recently acquired another major plant in the United States, this one in Washington state,” the film’s moderator told an applauding listener, “where we will replicate our sustainable business model for making paper. without cutting down trees, cogenerating green energy with the steam from our operations, recycling the water we use in our industrial processes and increasing our competitiveness [place] in the US market.
According to Johnson, McKinley has a good relationship with the union representing workers at the plant, the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers Local 155.
Nippon implemented a contract with 130 workers without union approval.
“I still hear about the 2013 strike,” Johnson said.
“It was a tough time for them, and their market was dying, and we are not that company,” he said.
“We have different challenges and we wanted to create a new culture. ”
House Executive Director Marc Abshire began the meeting with a minute’s silence to pay tribute to Dan Wilder Sr., 72, founder of Wilder Auto Center, who died on July 9 of complications from surgery.
“He was a pillar of our community, and just a great man,” said Abshire, recalling Wilder as a strong supporter of the chamber, area businesses and nonprofits who supported “a lot of effort. that we have tried to build as a community. ”
Among the announcements made at the luncheon was a Pebble Beach fundraiser on August 8 for the Field Arts & Events Hall. Wilder was a longtime board member.
Other activities that have been announced include a Child Care Alliance Child Care Career Fair on July 31 at Vern Burton Community Center, Nor’Wester Rotary’s and Koenig Subaru’s free Jammin ‘in the Park on July 4. September, the Peninsula Behavioral Health’s annual gala on Oct. 1 at 7 Cedars, the ongoing Port Angeles Farmers’ Market, and the Lefties baseball games at Civic Field, which cost $ 6 per ticket.
Senior Editor Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].
Terry Ward, editor of the Peninsula Daily News, the Sequim Gazette and the Forks Forum, sits on the board of directors of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce.