As a leader in the print industry, SPC is dedicated to always staying informed about what’s happening in the world of paper manufacturing. Our clients count on our expertise to achieve a successful outcome for every campaign, and a big part of that is the quality of paper we source for their work.
We recently toured the Verso paper mill in Wisconsin Rapids, WI, as a way to help keep our team and our clients educated about paper production. The tour, which happened in September 2019, was a wonderful opportunity for clients and SPC team members to see firsthand how the mill’s paper is sourced, processed and prepared for use by printers. In addition, we were able to visit one of the privately owned lands that Verso uses to source trees for the Wisconsin Rapids mill.
Here are some of the key takeaways from our day spent with Verso.
A Commitment to Sustainable Sourcing
Sustainability is a topic that has just about everyone’s attention, both in and out of the paper industry. During our time spent with Verso, we learned:
- Verso only sources their trees from forests and tree farms that practice sustainability management.
- Trees are a renewable resource! Over 70 years ago, the paper industry realized that they need to plan for regeneration of forests instead of leaving them empty.
- Paper manufacturers are aware of the scrutiny they receive for their effect on the planet. So many manufacturers make sustainability an important part of their business model and how they position themselves.
Staying Profitable Through Uncertainty
Many factors impact the paper industry, and we learned about some of them during our discussion with the team at Verso. As discussed in our recent Q3 Paper Market Blog, the demand for paper is dwindling, the cost of U.S. resources is rising and foreign mills are offering lower prices on paper. This is a dangerous combination for U.S. manufacturers, so they have to be smart and innovative to remain in consideration for American-based printers.
To stay profitable and survive, mills must do their best to be as efficient as possible. Avoiding downtime helps, as does limiting mistakes throughout the manufacturing process. The mills that innovate and adapt to marketers who are transitioning more of their budget to digital marketing have a much greater chance of success. One example that was shared with our group was the conversion of some coated free sheet machines into machines producing board, which support the production of boxes for companies like Amazon. They also recognize the importance of being involved in the conversation about the superior ROI of direct mail versus digital executions, like email.
While there are certain factors that are out of the control of paper suppliers and printers, such as tariffs, there are measures they can take to maintain a strong presence within the industry. Our friends at Verso explained that integrated mills that embrace end-to-end manufacturing have succeeded, and will continue to do so, because they make their own pulp and process it into paper. They aren’t at the mercy of price fluctuation of pulp prices, so the costs of their resources are much more stable.
“SPC prides itself on the relationships we have built, not only with our customers, but with our suppliers, too. And to have the opportunities like this, bringing us all together for an educational and eye-opening experience, helps strengthen the partnership between all parties involved. That’s a win-win in my book.”
-Ryan LeFebvre, SPC Principal
As the paper industry continues to evolve, SPC will continue to keep our finger on the pulse of how it’s changing. One way to do this is by facilitating more client experiences like the one we had at the Wisconsin Rapids mill, because we believe being a good partner is keeping our clients involved and informed.
Interested in joining our next paper mill visit? Just call your SPC sales rep.