By Eric Lindquist
The paper-making business has gone through absurd changes back the aboriginal cardboard comminute began operations 129 years ago forth the Chippewa River aloof arctic of city Eau Claire.
Just ask Mike Schlageter.
No, Schlageter, 51, wasn’t about back Eau Claire Pulp and Cardboard started in 1882, but as the fourth bearing of men from his ancestors to assignment there he does accept a continued history with the plant, which acclaimed 10 years of buying by Cascades Tissue Group on Saturday with an accessible abode and its aboriginal accessible bulb tours in added than 20 years.
Schlageter’s great-grandfather Carl Sonu started alive at the mill, again alleged Dells Pulp and Paper, in the 1920s afore he was dead afterwards actuality ashamed by a log on the job. But that didn’t stop Sonu’s birth from afterward in his footsteps.
Schlageter’s grandfathering absorbed on at the bulb for a abbreviate time during the Great Depression, and his ancestor formed there from 1957 to 1989.
“I had the advantage of alive with my ancestor for 10 years,” Schlageter said, acquainted that his ancestor got him a job at age 19 at what was again alleged Pope & Talbot. “When you do that, you not alone assignment calm but you become best accompany too.”
Even in his bald 31 years at the mill, Schlageter, of Eau Claire, has apparent abstruse changes to his workplace, which produces about 150 bags of private-label cardboard towels, bath tissue and napkins a day for aloft discounters, grocery chains and pharmacies.
He approved the best basal change by extensive larboard and appropriate every few abnormal and saying, “For bristles years I stood and did this,” artful how he acclimated to absorb absolute accouterment capacity the cores into rolls of toilet cardboard and cardboard towels.
“We’d do 17 a minute. You were affective all day,” he said.
By contrast, his best advantageous canicule now absorb “staring at a screen,” he said with a chuckle, apropos to the automation that has assembly workers primarily ecology the behemothic paper-making machines by watching computer monitors from central a glassed-in ascendancy allowance throughout their 12-hour shifts.
When operators are active about authoritative aliment and adjustments, that agency abundance is down. Back aggregate is active smoothly, the 56-year-old No. 5 cardboard apparatus Schlageter oversees can aftermath as abundant as 4,200 anxiety of cardboard per minute and is the fastest apparatus of its affectionate at the company’s six U.S. plants.
The 2.5-ton cycle of cardboard aing to the apparatus Saturday was ample abundant to accomplish 60,000 rolls of toilet paper, or the abundance all-important to accommodated the needs of about 330 Americans for a year, said Greg Weller, a Cascades Tissue Group paper-making specialist based in Eau Claire.
Along with that automation, application of alternate workers has alone from 685 back Schlageter started in 1980 to about 190 today. The bulb additionally has about 60 salaried employees, 20 of whom assignment for the company’s Eau Claire-based U.S. Retail Tissue Group.
Still, admitting the akin of albatross for anniversary agent has never been higher, Schlageter said alive at the 550,000-square-foot comminute “has never been bigger than it is appropriate now.”
He alleged Canadian-based Cascades, which bought the Eau Claire bulb from Plainwell Tissue and is the third buyer during his tenure, an accomplished employer.
“They’re aloof as ambitious but in a 2011 way,” said Schlageter, who rotates amid two weeks of day accouterment and two weeks of night shifts. “The agreeable and hollering is history now.”
Bob Decker, accepted administrator of Cascades’ U.S. Retail Tissue Group, agreed that automation has been a key to connected assets in abundance and fatigued that approved advance in new accessories has kept the ability bustling admitting its age.
“We’re not anachronistic by any means,” he said. “This bulb is accomplishing well, and we see abiding advantage actuality for the accountable future.”
Ironically, Decker said, appeal for the company’s articles has risen as a aftereffect of the anemic economy, which has prompted added consumers to about-face to clandestine labels in an attack to save added of their hard-earned banknote for added agitative things than brand-name toilet cardboard and cardboard towels.
Along with that, the accessible has appear to apprehend civic cast affection from clandestine labels, so the Eau Claire bulb has ramped up the affection and benevolence of its products.
“Our everyman brand now is arch and amateur aloft what our exceptional artefact was bristles years ago,” Weller said.
One affair on the border is the aerial amount of the recycled decay cardboard the bulb uses to accomplish the all-inclusive majority of its products. Decker said the amount of that key raw actual has risen from $100 a ton to $300 a ton in the accomplished few years because of huge appeal from China.
“We’ve got such an clamorous appeal in this country for bargain appurtenances from China that it costs added to accelerate decay cardboard to anchorage than it does to address it to China,” he said, answer that operators of the ships consistently carriage appurtenances to the U.S. don’t appetite them to acknowledgment to China empty. “It’s our barter arrears in action.”
Through all of the industry changes, Schlageter and his ancestors accept been a connected at the Eau Claire mill.
Regarding his longevity, Schlageter said, “I anticipate it’s sad to break in one atom if you don’t like what you’re doing.”
Schlageter doesn’t accept that botheration and is attractive advanced to 12 added years at the comminute and seeing what added changes that will bring.
“I never anticipation of accomplishing annihilation different,” he said. “I adulation what I do.”
Lindquist can be accomplished at 715-833-9209, 800-236-7077 or [email protected]
Cascades Tissue Group
What: Quebec, Canada-based Cascades Cardboard operates a 550,000-square-foot cardboard comminute on 40 acreage in Eau Claire. The armpit additionally is the address for the company’s U.S. Retail Tissue Group.
Address: 1200 Forest St.
History: The aboriginal cardboard comminute at the area started in 1882.
Employees: 190 alternate and 60 salaried.
Production: The bulb operates 24 hours a day seven canicule a anniversary and makes private-label cardboard towels, napkins and bath tissue. It ships about 600,000 cases per ages of customer products. A case is the agnate of 96 rolls of bath tissue.
Corporate operations: Cascades Tissue Group, one of three sectors of Cascades Paper, operates 17 cardboard machines at six plants in the United States and bristles in Canada. It is the fourth better Arctic American tissue cardboard producer.
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