A stationery under another name

This is the fifth and final article on papermaking in the Scioto Valley of Ross County, Ohio. In the previous four articles I have written about the earliest recorded history of papermaking in the Scioto Valley as well as the history of paper milling at the south end of Chillicothe, Ohio. The mill at the south end of Chillicothe was known in 1847 as Entrekin, Green and Company until it was acquired by descendants of the Ingham brothers in 1852. They operated the mill until 1890 when it was purchased by Colonel Daniel Mead of Dayton, Ohio and became Mead Paper.

Article one, “Papermaking in the Scioto Valley”, is a basic history of papermaking in the Scioto Valley of Ross County, Ohio, from its first known origin on the creek Kinnikinnick with Quaker brothers Hezekiah and Isaiah Ingham. The last part of the article is an early history of the mill after its acquisition by Colonel Daniel Mead.

Article two titled “Life and Death of Mother Mead” is a history of Mead Paper from 1890 until its merger with Westvaco in 2002.

Article three chronicles the 1975 union strike at the Chillicothe plant which closed the plant from August 12, 1975 to October 27, 1975. The article is “Mead Paper Strike – 1975”.

Article four in this series details Mead Paper’s successful fight against a hostile 1978 takeover by Occidental Petroleum led by Chairman Dr. Armand Hammer. Mead CEO and Chairman James Wilmer McSwiney led efforts to prevent the takeover. This article is titled “A Big Mac saves the mead”.

History records that two Quaker brothers from Pennsylvania, Hezekiah and Isaiah Ingham, began making paper on Kinnikinnick Creek in the Scioto Valley in 1810. Paper for printing was in demand in the area since Chillicothe in 1803 was the first capital of Ohio and there was a need for printing paper to support the state government. The descendants of the Inghams in 1852 acquired a paper mill on Honey Creek at the south end of Chillicothe and operated it until 1890 when it was purchased by Colonel Daniel Mead of Dayton, Ohio.

More: Local author Tom Breeden takes readers on a journey through life

The Mead family also had a paper mill in Dayton, Ohio, but with the purchase of the Chillicothe plant, the Dayton plant was closed around 1905 and some of its equipment was transferred to the Chillicothe plant. 1905 is also the year when George Houk Mead, the grandson of Colonel Daniel Mead, begins the revitalization of a paper mill in poor condition both mechanically and financially. A testament to its success is that the Mead Paper Company actually operated from 1890 until its merger with Westvaco Papers in 2002, a period of 112 years. The Mead Paper Corporation in 1996 was an international company with sales of $4.7 billion and over 21,000 employees scattered across many countries around the world before merging with Westvaco Papers.

MeadWestvaco – 2002

After struggling financially in the 1980s and early 1990s, the mid-sized Mead Corporation became more financially sound in the late 1990s and became a takeover target for larger corporations. In order to avoid a hostile takeover of the Mead Corporation, they engaged in a $3 billion stock swap with another midsize forest products company, Westvaco, in 2002. In 1996, Westvaco had more than 15,000 employees and 1.8 billion turnover with its main area. business being printing papers, packaging and specialty chemicals.

The new MeadWestvaco Corporation had revenues of $8 billion and more than 32,000 employees, with its core businesses being packaging, specialty papers, consumer and office products, and specialty chemicals. Mead President and CEO Jerry Tatar became President of MeadWestvaco and Westvaco President and CEO John Luke Jr. became CEO and President of MeadWestvaco. After a year, Chairman Jerry Tatar exercised a “golden parachute” deal by stepping down in a deal estimated to be worth more than thirteen million dollars, leaving management of the company to John Luke Jr. MeadWestvaco owned five printing paper mills, including the Mead mills in Chillicothe, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan and Rumford, Maine with Westvaco plants in Luke, Maryland and Wickliffe, Kentucky. The old Ingham Brothers mill on Honey Creek in Chillicothe, Ohio was now a MeadWestvaco mill.

New page – 2005

After three years of being a MeadWestvaco plant, the five printing paper mills and 900,000 acres of forest land were sold to private investment firm Cerebus Capital Management for $2.3 billion, buying being finalized in May 2005. MeadWestvaco had decided that their main core business segments would be in packaging, consumer and office products, and specialty chemicals. The former Ingham Brothers factory on Honey Creek was now a NewPage factory, but it did not fit NewPage management’s plans and it was sold to the Glatfelter Company of York, Pennsylvania with a sale finalized in April 2006.

At the end of 2012, NewPage was listed as one of the leading producers of printing and specialty papers in North America with net sales of $3.1 billion with paper mills in Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The annual production capacity of these mills was 3.5 million tons of paper. In 2014, NewPage was acquired by Verso.

Glatfelter – 2006

A press release in February 2006 announced the eighty million cash purchase of the NewPage paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio by the PH Glatfelter Company of York, Pennsylvania. Glatfelter was a global manufacturer of specialty papers and engineered products with plants in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania and Neenah, Wisconsin and operations in Germany, France and the Philippines. Shortly after purchasing the Chillicothe plant, Glatfelter announced the closure of the Neenah, Wisconsin plant.

In April 2006, the move to the Glatfelter plant began when Glatfelter President and CEO George H. Glatfelter II stood at the entrance to the plant and welcomed all new employees, welcoming to the new company. Later, Glatfelter’s management staff held employee meetings to talk about Glatfelter and answer questions. Glatfelter said “the Chillicothe factory wasn’t on their radar, it was on the radar!” As a member of the sales force, I had the opportunity to interact with George H. Glatfelter II in sales meetings and found him to be a special charismatic leader with the ability to personalize with the employees. Glatfelter introduced ‘book paper’ to the production line and, after a learning curve, it became a standard product for the Chillicothe mill.

Pixelle Specialty Solutions – 2018

On October 31, 2018, PH Glatfelter Company announced the sale of its paper business to private investment firm Lindsay Goldberg. Lindsay Goldberg rebranded the new company as Pixelle Specialty Solutions with plants in Chillicothe, Ohio and Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. Pixelle is one of North America’s largest specialty paper companies specializing in food contact papers, inkjet, release liners, carbonless forms, envelopes, greeting cards, books and playing cards. Later Pixelle would add mills in Jay, Maine and Stevens Point, Wisconsin, collectively operating eleven paper machines and producing over one million tons of paper annually.

HIG Capital – 2022

April 4, 2022 Lindsay Goldberg announced an acquisition agreement by HIG Capital but terms were not announced. This former paper mill in Ingham, Mead at the south end of Chillicothe on Honey Creek may have a new name, unknown at the time of this writing. May it perform for new owners as it did so reliably for its previous owners and may the smoke continue to rise from the candy-striped chimney.

Local author Tom Breeden recently released his new book, “My View of the World”.