Sonoco Hutchinson Paper Mill

The Sonoco Hutchinson Paper Mill filed a notice with the State of Kansas on March 6, 2023, stating that the facility will close.

The Sonoco Hutchinson Paper Mill is closing its doors after more than a century in business. The plant, which started in 1909 as a paper mill, has been through several owners. Sonoco purchased the plant from from Republic Paperboard in 2001.

The plant will be closing − permanently.

About 116 employees are affected, said Tucker Allen, the business services director of Kansas WorkforceOne.

“Separation begins today,” he said. “The way I understand it is the hourly employees are all gone. They’ve already been let go as of today.”

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The company filled out a WARN notice, informing the state the plant would close. According to the Department of Labor, the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) provides protection to workers, their families and communities by requiring employers to provide notification 60 calendar days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs.

“On the heels of Hutchinson Regional Medical Center laying off an enormous amount as well without notice, it means that there’s quite a few dislocated workers in the area,” Allen said. “You know, 116 employees will be looking for their next job.”

The Sonoco Hutchinson Paper Mill filed a notice with the State of Kansas on March 6, 2023, stating that the facility will close.

Usually, Kansas WorkforceOne is able to come to the plant before the last day and help with the employees, but not with this plant.

“We’ll do everything we can to work with them to help them secure their next job, whether that’s just helping them with a resume (or)… getting them some opportunities,” Tucker said.

In addition, the Hutchinson/Reno County Chamber of Commerce will provide information to those affected employees by connecting them with community resources and employers in the community who are actively hiring.

“There are many local companies actively hiring, and we will be working to help make those connections on our website and at upcoming job fairs,” said Debra Teufel, the CEO/president of the Chamber. “The Kansas Department of Commerce is also initiating Rapid Response services to those impacted.”

The Hutch Chamber also has a list of employers who are currently hiring posted on their website.

Representatives from the company did not return emails nor phone calls made by the News.

“We are very sad to learn that a company that has had operations in our community for many decades has made the decision to close their doors, and unfortunately, we have not had the opportunity to learn more from them about the reason for the closure,” Teufel said. “We will be working to find out answers and about what the plan for the facility will be so that we can work on a redevelopment plan for the future.”

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What Sonoco did

The Sonoco plant, at 100 N. Halstead St., took in about 320 tons of paper and cardboard each day, with about 295 tons becoming products.

The paper went into paper machines that rolled out the product into various thicknesses. The brown paperboard went mostly into industrial products.

On Oct. 31, 2001, Sonoco (NYSE: SON), the global packaging company, completed its all-cash purchase of the 90,000-ton paper mill.

The Sonoco Hutchinson Paper Mill will close.

The company, in a 2001 release stated “The Hutchinson mill, which had annualized sales through Sept. 30, 2001, of approximately $30 million, has two pressure former paper machines and employs about 145 personnel.”

In 2001, Sonoco stated they were the mill’s largest customer, purchasing paperboard for composite cans, primarily for refrigerated dough products, and for tubes.

Sonoco, founded in 1899, has 22,000 employees working in approximately 300 operations in 32 countries, serving some of the world’s best known brands in 85 nations. The company headquarters is in Hartsville, S.C.