KPAQ Industries LLC is on schedule for a mid-July start of a second production line, which will make wax paper used by the food industry, Chief Executive Officer Allen Byrd said Tuesday.
“We estimate there’s going to be somewhere between 33 and 40 people when we ultimately end up at the full staffing,” Byrd said. “We are going to proceed with filling those positions as soon as we get good candidates.”
With the workers for the second production line, the KPAQ mill will employ around 250 people, Byrd said.
The jobs being added will pay from $14 per hour for entry-level jobs to around $28 per hour for the more skilled positions, Byrd said. Around half of the jobs will pay more than $20 per hour.
KPAQ, with support from the state economic development department, will hold a jobs fair from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 24 at Baton Rouge Community College to help fill those positions, Byrd said.
The positions to support the new machine include skilled mechanical and electrical craftsmen; experienced papermaking operators; entry-level operators plus professional positions for engineers and supervisors. More information on the job fair is available on the company’s website at kpaq.com.
Byrd said earlier this year that KPAQ was considering a phased-in startup.
But the company likes what it’s seeing from the paper market’s response to the second production line announcement. KPAQ already has customer commitments for the second machine’s paper, Byrd said.
The second machine will make machine-glazed papers, the specialty products used in the medical, food and pharmaceutical industries. Machine-glazed papers include the waxed paper used to wrap restaurant carry-out sandwiches or to pick up doughnuts. Production will be around 100 tons per day.
Byrd said the company is hoping to kick off production on July 12, the one-year anniversary of continuous paper production at the mill.
KPAQ already operates a liner board machine, which makes about 600 tons a day. Cardboard typically consists of a corrugated sheet sandwiched between two pieces of flat liner board.
The mill was able to continue operations despite the high water levels in the Mississippi River, Byrd said.
“We had a pretty white-knuckle period with the high river water,” Byrd said.
Normally, the plant’s treated wastewater flows into the river, Byrd said. But the water level was so high that the mill had to pump out the treated wastewater for 31 days.