Glatfelter paper plant in Spring Grove might be put up for sale

Written by Joel Shannon/The York Daily Record | Feb 6, 2018 12:22 PM

York-based P.H. Glatfelter's locations include a paper mill in Spring Grove. (Photo: File)

(Spring Grove) --  York-based Glatfelter is exploring "strategic alternatives" for its specialty papers business, including a possible sale of that unit, the company said in a news release Tuesday. 

The specialty papers business unit includes its locations in Spring Grove as well as Chillicothe and Fremont, both in Ohio, according to the news release. 

"This was not an easy decision, especially given the strong heritage of Specialty Papers and the long-standing relationships with our communities," the news release states. 

The Spring Grove plant is dedicated to manufacturing specialty papers, according to Eileen Beck, vice president of Human Resources for Glatfelter. Examples of products manufactured at the plant include envelopes, book publishing papers, postage stamps, playing cards and greeting cards.

Last summer, Glatfelter eliminated about 120 positions across its specialty papers unit, including 30 in Spring Grove. 

The specialty papers division, has struggled in recent years against falling prices and oversaturation of product on the market, reports The Chillicothe Gazette.

Tuesday's news was the latest of several major developments for iconic businesses in York County. Bon-Ton has filed for bankruptcyHarley Davidson announced growth at its York County plant as the company shifts hundreds of jobs, closing a Kansas City plant; and the York Fair could move to July or August.

Glatfelter said it plans to focus on its engineered materials businesses, namely Advanced Airlaid Materials and Composite Fibers. Those units manufacture items including food packaging, personal care products and food and beverage papers such as tea bags and coffee filters.

Glatfelter released fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday that showed increased profits in both of those businesses, while the specialty papers business was less profitable year over year. 

The news comes four years after the state announced $8 million in grants for Glatfelter.

The money was dedicated to a conversion project to help the Spring Grove mill's boilers switch from coal to natural gas.

At the time, then-Gov. Tom Corbett said the conversation project "secures - for decades to come - good-paying jobs for the employees of Glatfelter, a major economic contributor in York County for 150 years."

The state said Glatfelter was investing more than $55 million of its own money into the project. Corbett announced the grant money in September 2014, during a tour of the mill.

"We believe Specialty Papers and its employees, customers, and communities would benefit from stewardship that continues to invest in improving the business with a strategy that singularly focuses on Specialty Papers' many strengths and attributes," the news release states. 

At this point, Glatfelter's is in the early stages of a strategic review process and did not say how long it might take to reach a decision. All locations will keep operating as normal during the strategic review, the release says.

Spring Grove Borough Manager Andrew Shaffer said Tuesday morning that while he was concerned about the news coming from the ​largest employer in the borough, he did not yet have much information on the topic.

"​Being up for sale doesn't mean it's closing," he commented.

Then-Gov. Tom Corbett, center, tours Glatfelter's Spring Grove mill in September 2014. (Photo: Ed Mahon, York Daily Record)


This story comes to us through a partnership between WITF and The York Daily Record

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