Rob Baron, President and Chief Executive Officer of Marcal Paper, announced that the company will return to regular papermaking operations in New Jersey sometime in January, less than one year after a 10-alarm fire destroyed its iconic manufacturing facilities and caused the immediate shutdown of the business. Baron also announced that the company will host, in the weeks ahead, an event at the site to thank those who supported the business’ recovery in 2019 and herald the return of Marcal to New Jersey’s industrial economy.
“We are thrilled to announce that we will officially be back in business,” Baron said. “The prospect of such an announcement seemed impossible eleven months ago, when a devastating fire eliminated eighty years of manufacturing history in less than eight hours. Thanks to the support we have received from the awesome New Jersey community, and the efforts of our entire team, we will soon return to regular papermaking operations in Elmwood Park.”
Baron added, “We understand that many in our family lost a lot the day the fire struck our mill, and we have done everything possible to try to help them recover. We also understand what Marcal means to Elmwood Park, to Bergen County and to New Jersey as a whole; we were – and now will be again – the one and only recycled tissue manufacturer in the Garden State.” “In the days ahead, we will gather at our mill to officially ‘restart’ Marcal, express our gratitude to our first responders, our elected officials, our community partners and all those who stuck with us. We will officially launch a new chapter in what is a uniquely New Jersey story.”
In the immediate aftermath of the fire, Marcal coordinated an aggressive program of assistance for those team members whose jobs were lost that day. State and local officials and dozens of employers connected associates with new employment opportunities and critical human services, and Marcal provided associates with financial assistance and extended health insurance coverage.
Several tasks essential to evaluating the realistic prospect of a restart and then making it happen were undertaken. These activities included: (1) assessing the extensive equipment and property damage; (2) restoring utilities to the site, including water, natural gas, and electricity; (3) repairing and replacing critical equipment and infrastructure damaged by repeated freezing and thawing; (4) restarting boilers; (5) replacing the fire suppression system damaged due to freezing conditions immediately after the fire; and (6) completing a multi-month site demolition and clean-up effort.
Marcal has also finalized a merger with Nittany Paper, a converting operation in Pennsylvania, to ensure that the paper rolls manufactured in Elmwood Park can be converted into final product for sale. The fire substantially destroyed sixteen acres of property, including twenty-one paper converting lines. By merging with Nittany, Marcal has secured the only viable pathway to restarting operations in Elmwood Park now, and saving its brand, while leaving open future opportunities for growth or redevelopment at its site in New Jersey.
“Marcal is one of the oldest tissue manufacturing companies in the country. It started as a small, family-owned business and became a symbol of New Jersey’s industrial economy, a trusted employer and valued steward in this community,” Baron said. “We did not want to just start up some machines and fail. From day one, we wanted to give ourselves a fighting chance to hire back as many people as we could, as fast as we could, while ensuring we had a viable, sustainable roadmap to thrive – in a very challenging market.” “We’ve all waited 330 days to be able to say that Marcal was ‘back in business.’ That day has arrived.”