From a picturesque street in downtown Spring Grove, PA, among century-old brownstone churches, homes and businesses, stands an equally stately, long-standing facility that produces paper products manufactured for daily use by consumers across America and beyond.
Pixelle Specialty Solutions – which for decades was the PH Glatfelter Company before it was acquired and rebranded in 2018 – is a visionary leader in specialty paper production that boasts the nation’s most diverse portfolio. Hallmark, Scholastic, 3M, Thomson Reuters, American Greetings and Avery Dennison are just some of the household names Pixelle partners with to meet their everyday paper production needs. From Post-It Notes to birthday greeting cards, playing cards to paper snack containers (think the containers that hold Pringles and Pepperidge Farm cookies), and everything in between – Pixelle’s products are everywhere you look.
The company prides itself on operational excellence – not just in what they make, but how they make it. As noted on their website, Pixelle Specialty Solutions’ mission is to be a high-performance business that provides customers with excellent products and services; engages employees with the resources and training they need to work safely; minimizes their environmental footprint and impact; and focuses on competitiveness and long-term value creation.
Pixelle is the third largest producer of uncoated free sheet papers in North America. The Spring Grove plant alone supports an output of 330,000 tons of specialty printing and converting papers. Pixelle’s specialty paper capacity is 210,000 tons and its capacity to print other paper is 120,000 tons. It accomplishes this with the use of four specialty paper machines, along with a specialty coater, a blade coater, precision sheets and flexible finishing operations. The specialty coater, which Pixelle President and CEO Tim Hess was instrumental in bringing to Spring Grove in 1997, offers a high value in the finishing of many of its products that sets the company apart from the competition.
The plant also has a hardwood and softwood fiberline pulping operation that produces 240,000 tons a year, so that 90 percent of its paper machine demand can be produced internally. As Spring Grove plant Vice President and General Manager Jay Thiessen pointed out to PA Chamber President Luke Bernstein and Director of Member Communications Lindsay Andrews during a recent tour of the facility, nothing goes to waste at the Spring Grove plant – everything gets recycled. A specialty, multi-fuel boiler is powered by coal, waste wood and process residuals. The plant also has two natural gas boilers and one recovery boiler. The mill has the capacity to produce 100 percent of its electrical power needs with five turbine generators, and it supplies electrical power to the grid when necessary. It also has modern, efficient fresh water and wastewater treatment facilities, ensuring that they are living by their values of minimizing their environmental footprint.
The Spring Grove plant employs 515 dedicated and highly skilled team members who are highly trained on the operation of their large, unique and special machines, and even more importantly, to remain safe while doing so. These qualified workers ensure that the series of meticulously-maintained machines efficiently run around the clock, except for the few times of year they’re shut down for routine maintenance. The oldest continuously running machine was built in 1922 – 101 years ago! That machine produces food papers, greeting cards, end leaf (the paper that you see at the end of books and ticket stock), and more.
“As an Investor Member, we greatly value the work that the PA Chamber does to promote a pro-business agenda in Pennsylvania,” Tim Hess said following Bernstein and Andrews’s visit to the facility. “We welcome Luke Bernstein to the helm as the new CEO. We had a great time hosting Luke and Lindsay at the Spring Grove mill, and we look forward to partnering in the future to help Pennsylvania compete in the broader economy.”
For more information on Pixelle, including their locations and host of specialty products, visit www.pixelle.com.
Lindsay Andrews is director of member communications with the PA Chamber.