AUGUSTA – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine issued a statement of support today for Verso Corp.’s announcement that is has reached a definitive agreement to sell its Androscoggin mill in Jay, Maine to an owner that appears committed to the future of the mill.
Verso Corp. and the buyer, Pixelle Specialty Solutions LLC of Spring Grove, PA, today announced the planned sale, which would take place in early 2020 along with the sale of Verso’s mill in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Once complete it will make Pixelle the largest specialty paper business in the U.S. in terms of annual production.
The Androscoggin mill, which has increased production under Verso in the past year, is a major consumer of wood supplied by hundreds of Maine loggers spread across much of the state, and its continued health is vital to the health of the logging industry, PLC Executive Director, Dana Doran, said.
“We are optimistic that this sale will both strengthen and provide a bright future for the Androscoggin mill and the many family logging businesses in our state that depend on it as a market for Maine wood, particularly softwood pulp,” Doran said. “Our members are very supportive of our paper mill partners and workers, and the mills are vital to our industry. We applaud Verso for finding a buyer that appears committed to the future of the mill, and Pixelle Specialty Solutions for the confidence their decision to buy the mill shows in the strength of Maine’s workforce, especially the harvesting and trucking suppliers.”
Verso’s recent decision to restart the No. 3 paper machine and pulp line at its Androscoggin mill was greeted as very positive news by professional loggers and their families throughout Maine given several difficult years that saw many closures and slowdowns at Maine pulp and paper mills. That announcement was one of several positive developments for the industry that followed years of decline.
“This latest sale and the optimism it shows should be a reminder that now is a good time for Maine’s legislators, business leaders, communities, and industries to pull together and support every effort to enhance our forest products economy,” Doran said. “There are positive things happening in that economy and many opportunities on the horizon for growth and success, but the whole is threatened if our logging workforce is unable to survive, and that means we must support strong markets for wood fiber from biomass to pulp to saw logs as well as sustainable prices for wood that will enable our loggers to remain in business.”
The PLC will continue to work with its members, paper mill partners, and local legislators to seek solutions to the challenges facing the pulp and paper industry in Maine and the loggers who supply round wood, clean chips, and biomass to local mills.