Chillicothe Paper Mill

This is the fifth and final article on papermaking in the Scioto Valley of Ross County, Ohio. In the previous four articles I have written about the first recorded history of papermaking in Scioto Valley as well as the history of the paper mill on the south end of Chillicothe, Ohio. The mill on the south end of Chillicothe was known in 1847 as the Entrekin, Green and Company until acquired by the descendants of the Ingham Brothers in 1852. They operated the mill until 1890 when it was purchased by Colonel Daniel Mead of Dayton, Ohio and became Mead Paper.

Article one, “Papermaking In Scioto Valley,” is a basic history of early papermaking in the Scioto Valley of Ross County, Ohio from its earliest known origin on the Kinnikinnick Creek with Quaker brothers Hezekiah and Isaiah Ingham. The latter part of the article is an early history of the mill after it was acquired by Colonel Daniel Mead.

Article two entitled, “Life & Death of Mother Mead” is a history of Mead Paper from 1890 until its merger with Westvaco in 2002.

Article three chronicles the 1975 union strike at the Chillicothe mill that shut down the facility from August 12, 1975 until October 27, 1975. The article is “Mead Paper Strike – 1975.”

Article four of this series details Mead Paper’s successful fight against a hostile takeover in 1978 by Occidental Petroleum led by Chairman Dr. Armand Hammer. CEO and President of Mead, James Wilmer McSwiney, led the effort to prevent this takeover. This article is entitled, “A Big Mac Saves Mead.”

History records that two Quaker brothers from Pennsylvania, Hezekiah and Isaiah Ingham, began making paper on the Kinnikinnick Creek in Scioto Valley in 1810. Paper for printing was in demand in the area as Chillicothe in 1803 was the first capital of Ohio and there was a need for printing paper to support the state government. Descendants of the Inghams in 1852 acquired a paper mill on Honey Creek in the south end of Chillicothe operating it until 1890 when it was purchased by Colonel Daniel Mead of Dayton, Ohio.

More: Local author Tom Breeden takes readers on a journey through life

The Mead family also had a paper mill in Dayton, Ohio but with the purchase of the mill in Chillicothe the Dayton mill was closed circa 1905 and some of its equipment moved to the Chillicothe mill. 1905 is also the year that George Houk Mead, the grandson of Colonel Daniel Mead, began the revitalization of a paper mill that was in bad shape both mechanically and financially. A testimony to his success is that the Mead Paper Company operated in reality from 1890 until its merger with Westvaco Papers in 2002, a period of 112 years. The Mead Paper Corporation in 1996 was an international company with sales of $4.7 billion and over 21,000 employees scattered in many different countries of the world before it merged with Westvaco Papers.

MeadWestvaco – 2002

After struggling financially in the 1980s and early 1990s the mid-sized Mead Corporation became more financially sound in late 1990s and a target of larger corporations for takeover. In order to avoid a hostile takeover of the Mead Corporation they engaged in a three billion dollar stock swap with another mid-sized forest products corporation, Westvaco, in 2002. Westvaco in 1996 had over 15,000 employees and 1.8 billion in sales with its main area of business being printing papers, packaging, and specialty chemicals.

The new MeadWestvaco Corporation had revenues of eight billion dollars and over 32,000 employees with its core businesses being packaging, specialty papers, consumer and office products, and specialty chemicals. Mead President and CEO, Jerry Tatar became Chairman of MeadWestvaco with Westvaco President and CEO John Luke Jr. becoming the CEO and President of MeadWestvaco. After one year Chairman Jerry Tatar exercised a “golden parachute” agreement retiring in a deal estimated at over thirteen million dollars leaving top management of the company to John Luke Jr. MeadWestvaco had five printing papers mills including Mead mills in Chillicothe, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan, and Rumford, Maine with Westvaco mills in Luke, Maryland and Wickliffe, Kentucky. The old Ingham Brothers mill on Honey Creek in Chillicothe, Ohio was now a MeadWestvaco mill.

NewPage – 2005

After three years of being a MeadWestvaco mill the five printing paper mills and 900,000 acres of forestland was sold to a private investment company Cerebus Capital Management for 2.3 billion dollars with purchase being complete in May of 2005. MeadWestvaco had decided that their main core segments of business would be in packaging, consumer and office products, and specialty chemicals. The old Ingham Brothers mill on Honey Creek was now a NewPage mill but it did not fit into the plans of NewPage management and it was sold to the Glatfelter Company of York, Pennsylvania with sale finalized in April of 2006.

At the end of 2012 NewPage was listed as a leading producer of printing and specialty papers in North America with net sales of 3.1 billion with paper mills in Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Maryland, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Annual production capacity of these mills was 3.5 million tons of paper. In 2014 NewPage was acquired by Verso.

Glatfelter – 2006

A press release in February of 2006 announced the purchase for eighty million in cash of the NewPage paper mill in Chillicothe, Ohio by the P. H. Glatfelter Company of York, Pennsylvania. Glatfelter was a global manufacturer of specialty papers and engineered products with mills in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania and Neenah, Wisconsin and operations in Germany, France, and Philippines. Shortly after the purchase of Chillicothe mill Glatfelter announced the closure of the Neenah, Wisconsin mill.

In April of 2006 began the changeover to being a Glatfelter mill when Glatfelter’s Chairman and CEO, George H. Glatfelter II stood in the entrance ways to the mill and greeted all of the incoming employees, welcoming them to the new company. Later, Glatfelter management personnel held employee meetings talking about Glatfelter and answering questions. Glatfelter stated the “Chillicothe mill was not on their radar, it was the radar!” As a member of the sales force I had the opportunity to interact with George H. Glatfelter II at sales meetings and found him to be a special charismatic leader with ability to personalize himself with employees. Glatfelter introduced “book paper” to the production mix and after a learning curve it became a standard product for the Chillicothe mill.

Pixelle Specialty Solutions – 2018

On October 31, 2018 P.H. Glatfelter Company announced the sale of their paper business to private investment firm Lindsay Goldberg. Lindsay Goldberg rebranded the new company as Pixelle Specialty Solutions with mills in Chillicothe, Ohio and Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. Pixelle is one of the largest specialty papers companies in North America specializing in food contact papers, inkjet, release liner, carbonless forms, envelopes, greeting cards, book paper and playing cards. Later Pixelle would add the Jay, Maine and Stevens Point, Wisconsin mills collectively operating eleven paper machines and producing more than one million tons of paper annually.

H.I.G. Capital – 2022

April 4, 2022 Lindsay Goldberg announced an agreement to be acquired by H.I.G. Capital but terms not announced. That old Ingham, Mead paper mill in south end of Chillicothe on Honey Creek may have a new name, unknown as of the time of this writing. May she perform for the new owners as she has so reliably for her previous owners and may smoke continue to come out of the candy-striped smoke stack.

Local author Tom Breeden has recently released his new book, “My View of the World.”