KPAQ mill in St. Francisville acquired by Tennessee company; no word on whether jobs affected _lowres

Advocate staff file photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Hood Container Corp. has acquired KPAQ Industries LLC, which operates a containerboard and kraft paper mill in St. Francisville. The mill previously was operated by Renew Paper and before that Timbec.

Hood Container Corporation announced Sept. 30 it has acquired the KPAQ Industries paper mill in southwestern West Feliciana Parish for an undisclosed amount.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Hood Container operates two mills, including the West Feliciana facility, and six box plants in the Southeastern part of the United States.

The other mill is located in New Johnsonville, Tennessee, west of Nashville.

Charlie Hodges, the company’s chief operating officer and president, said the plant will be called Hood Container of Louisiana and will be managed by Wayne Morgan, vice president of manufacturing, who also serves as general manager of the Tennessee mill.

Hodges said the Louisiana mill is a good fit for the company’s portfolio, and it will expand the type and quality of material it produces.

“We think we got a great mill and some great products that we can go to market with and expand our offerings,” said Hodges. “We are now able to produce 100 percent of what goes into corrugated boxes.

“We have known about this mill for some time, and we liked the fact it is producing 100 percent virgin paper, no recycled paper. The new growth and new capacity in our marketplace is recycled material. But we believe there is still a very strong market for new cardboard, and we believe we will gain a competitive edge with what we get from St. Francisville because of its quality and the fact it’s not recycled paper.”

He said cardboard made from virgin paper is stronger and more durable than its counterpart made from recycled paper.

The St. Francisville mill produces 650 to 700 tons per day, and Hodges said with investment and better efficiency, the plant will produce 300,000 tons per year.

The plant operates two machines, a large one that produces liner board for the outside of boxes and a smaller one that produces specialty materials such as bag paper and special grades of paper, like glazed paper. Sometimes, the larger machine is used to produce other material, but Hodges said he’d like to see it make liner board 100 percent of the time.

As for the 285 to 290 employees at the mill, Hodges said there are not any plans to change the employment base. He said they will work on training and development to make sure they are well-trained. They also may explore working with Louisiana Economic Development and the Greater St. Francisville Chamber of Commerce to increase training opportunities for the plant.

KPAQ’s parent company, ANZAK, owns the rail line that terminates at the plant. Hodges said long term, he would like the plant to, at the least, utilize the rail line because it would streamline their delivery ability of raw materials to the plant and manufactured goods to their customers in the marketplace.

“It would help with efficiency and costs, so we will continue those conversations,” Hodges said.

Hood, which is privately held, acquired the New Johnsonville mill from International Paper in 2012. KPAQ was owned by Amzak Capital Management, based in Boca Raton, Florida.

Amzak bought the mill for about $10 million in April 2010 through a bankruptcy court auction. Before the sale, the mill had been idle for about five months, a move that put about 200 people out of work.

“There should be limited short-term impact, and in the long term, Hood’s interest in continuing investment should mean greater stability for the facility,” West Feliciana Parish President Kevin Couhig said.