Willamette Falls Paper Company, Inc., a subsidiary of Columbia Ventures Corporation in Vancouver, Washington, announces the purchase of the paper-making assets associated with the mill located in West Linn, Oregon and has entered into a five-year lease with renewal options for the related real estate and buildings.
The new operation owns three paper machines, capable of making coated and uncoated grades with the potential capacity of 260,000 tons. Willamette Falls Paper Company plans a near-term startup of at least one paper machine, returning it as the only coated freesheet producer on the West Coast. Initially, the mill will employ about 85 people, which will increase as they bring up one or two of the remaining paper machines.
While the mill’s initial focus will be on traditional paper products, the long-term focus on sustainable paper-making will be its key to success. Willamette Falls Paper looks to integrate the use of non-traditional fiber sources such as pulp from wheat straw, agricultural waste and the new farm crop of hemp into the process. In addition to making paper from sustainable fiber, the mill also plans to work with local waste management companies to help find solutions to improve the recycling rate in the region. Recent export restrictions on paper waste have made paper disposal a problem. The mill looks to address the need for better recycling options.
“We look forward to working with former customers to produce the quality products that they need,” states Brian Konen, President of Willamette Falls Paper Company. “Paper has been a part of the West Linn community for 130 years, and I am confident there are many more years of production ahead of us. Our previous employees were shocked and disappointed when the mill shut down 20 months ago, and it has been a goal of mine to find a new owner and restart the plant. Many highly skilled and experienced employees want to return to work in West Linn, and we are excited to welcome them back.”
Ken Peterson, CEO of Columbia Ventures Corporation says, “I am very optimistic because we were able to quickly develop a business plan to justify acquiring and reopening the paper mill. I am thankful to the various parties, including Portland General Electric, for working quickly and cooperatively to make it happen. The mill’s success means a reliable source for U.S. paper production to displace foreign paper imports. As we re-establish the business, we also intend to look for other ways to contribute to the economic life of the community outside of just pure paper-making.”
COLUMBIA VENTURES CORPORATION (CVC) is a private equity diversified holding company. Notably, CVC is the majority owner of Northwest Straw Pulp LLC which is in the final stages of constructing a first-of-its-kind pulp mill near Starbuck, Washington, to manufacture high-quality pulp fiber from wheat straw. At full production, it expects to annually produce 140,000 tons of pulp that will be able to directly substitute for hardwood pulp in terms of specifications and quality.
WILLAMETTE FALLS PAPER COMPANY, INC. is a newly formed company which owns and operates the machinery and equipment at the paper mill in West Linn, Oregon. The company is a non-integrated mill, capable of making coated and uncoated grades with an annual capacity of 260,000 tons. The Willamette Falls Paper Company looks to be an innovative leader in environmental paper production