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September 27, 2018

Sappi completes $200M investment at Somerset Mill in Skowhegan

Courtesy / Sappi North America
Courtesy / Sappi North America
Sappi North America Inc. unveiled Wednesday its newly rebuilt Paper Machine 1 at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, a yearlong project that completes a $200 million investment that is expected to boost its global competitiveness and increase the mill's annual production capacity by almost 1 million tons per year.

About Sappi North America Inc.

Sappi North America, headquartered in Boston, is a market leader in its four diversified businesses — high-quality coated printing papers, specialised cellulose, release papers and specialty packaging. It is a subsidiary of Sappi Limited (JSE), a global company headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, with more than 12,000 employees and manufacturing operations on three continents in seven countries and customers in over 150 countries around the world.

Sappi North America Inc. unveiled Wednesday its newly rebuilt Paper Machine 1 at the Somerset Mill in Skowhegan, a yearlong project that completes a $200 million investment that is expected to boost its global competitiveness and increase the mill's annual production capacity by almost 1 million tons per year.

In addition to the rebuilt paper machine, which adds new paperboard packaging grades to the Somerset Mill's capabilities, Sappi's $200 million investment included $25 million in improvements at the mill's wood yard to optimize its efficiency and reduce costs.

Sappi stated in a news release that its investment, which was launched in February 2017, establishes "a strong platform for growth in paperboard packaging, while maintaining Sappi's leadership position in the graphic paper market. These new paperboard grades provide luxury packaging and folding carton applications and complement our existing specialty packaging products, which represent an important asset in the food packaging and labeling industries."

Sappi North America President and CEO Mark Gardner said the company was excited to bring Paper Machine 1 back online after the successful yearlong rebuild.

"Thanks to an extraordinary amount of work and effort by everyone involved throughout the year, we now look forward to bringing new, innovative paper-based packaging solutions to the market," he said. "Somerset is a world-class mill, and this rebuild will allow us to continue providing high-quality packaging and graphics solutions to the market at the standard Sappi is known for."

All of the new product lines will have global availability and provide convertors with superior color consistency, printability and downstream performance, the company said in its news release.

"This is an exciting time for Sappi North America," said Deece Hannigan, vice president of packaging and specialties business for Sappi North America. "We are committed to bringing high-quality, innovative and sustainable products to the market that meet a variety of packaging needs. This diversification of our packaging line brings us closer to meeting the goals set in our 2020Vision, https://www.sappi.com/sappi-2020vision while continuing to meet customer needs around the globe."

The Waterville Sentinel reported that Gardner said the $200 million investment represented the largest made by the company since the No. 3 paper machine was built in 1991.

The Somerset Mill in Skowhegan employs about 800 people, the newspaper reported.

Diversity is key to Sappi's success

Courtesy / Sappi North America
Courtesy / Sappi North America
In addition to rebuilding Paper Machine 1, Sappi invested $25 million in the Somerset Mill's wood yard.

Jennifer Miller, chief business sustainability officer for Sappi North America, told Mainebiz earlier this summer that Miller said Sappi's mills in Skowhegan and Westbrook play a big role in the company's diversification strategy that earned a "gold recognition level" rating from the independent rating agency EcoVadis.

The rating puts Sappi among the top 4% of roughly 30,000 companies surveyed annually by EcoVadis.

"We know our strength is in our diversification strategies" involving pulp, coated fine paper, release papers and packaging, she said in a telephone interview at that time. "We are a global player in all four of those businesses."

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