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Simpson Tacoma Kraft Mill Sold

On Monday Simpson Lumber Company announced the sale of its Tacoma Kraft mill to Georgia-based RockTenn.

RockTenn, a manufacturer of corrugated and consumer packaging, is one of the larger players in that field, operating in a variety of locations from Canada to Chile, but the Tacoma plant will be its first on the West Coast.

Simpson, which has operated in Tacoma since 1890 will continue to be headquartered in Tacoma, focused on manufacturing in its core businesses of lumber and solid wood doors. 

Although both Simpson and the mill have been operating in Tacoma for decades, Simpson is only one of several operators of the facility, which was originally built in 1928, but not purchased by Simpson until 1985.

RockTenn plans to invest $60 million in the Tacoma mill over the next three years. According to The News Tribune, the new owner also plans to rehire the more than 400 mill workers and managers currently employed at Tacoma Kraft, and has entered into a seven year contract to continue to purchase wood chips from Simpson.

Here's the full press release:


RockTenn will acquire pulp, paper and green energy company business, assets

TACOMA, Wash. — Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company, LLC and RockTenn have agreed to terms for RockTenn to acquire the business and assets of Tacoma Kraft.

“This is exciting news for Tacoma Kraft employees and the community. Tacoma Kraft will be better positioned as part of RockTenn — a successful fiber-based company that is committed to the long-term success of the mill,” said Allan Trinkwald, president, Simpson Lumber Company, LLC. RockTenn has committed to invest $60 million in the Tacoma Kraft mill over the next three years.

Based in Norcross, Ga., RockTenn is of one of North America's leading integrated manufacturers of corrugated and consumer packaging. The company operates locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Argentina.

“I want to thank the dedicated Tacoma Kraft employees for their hard work in the past 28 years. They have made the mill into a strong company in Tacoma and positioned it to be a valuable, strategic asset to RockTenn,” Trinkwald said.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals and it is anticipated that the sale will be completed later this year.

“The Tacoma Kraft Mill is a great strategic fit for RockTenn,” said Steve Voorhees, RockTenn’s chief executive officer. “Adding a West Coast mill will improve our ability to satisfy West Coast customers and generate significant operating efficiencies across our system.”

“We look forward to working with the entire Simpson team to build on the fine relationships they have developed over the years with the Tacoma Kraft Mill’s customers as well as enhancing the satisfaction of RockTenn’s customers in the western United States,” said Jim Porter, president of RockTenn’s Corrugated Packaging segment.

Leaders of Simpson Lumber Company, Tacoma Kraft and RockTenn are committed to making a smooth transition to the new ownership for both the long- and short-term good of employees, customers and the community.

The Tacoma Kraft pulp, paper and green energy business has about 425 employees.

Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Simpson Lumber Company, LLC. Simpson Lumber headquarters remains in Tacoma, focused on manufacturing in its core businesses of lumber and solid wood doors. Simpson Lumber also will continue to support organizations and causes in Tacoma and Pierce County and in other communities where it operates.

Simpson has invested $415 million in environmental and other capital improvements since purchasing the mill from Champion International in 1985. 

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Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end of Tacoma’s history with pulp mills.  That’s a pretty photo, but it would look better without the stinky plume.  It’s hard to imagine 425 jobs that could do more than that mill does to limit the greater downtown Tacoma area’s quality of life and its otherwise vast potential to host employers more compatible with population density and civic self respect.

March 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Let’s hope RockTenn is a better neighbor than Simpson Kraft was.  I think much was done to reduce the Tacoma Aroma over the decades but Kraft was an ardent opponent of Prop 1 and constructed much of the fear misinformation campaign that helped its downfall.  Sort of funny now seeing they were in negotiations with RockTenn while trying to delay and actively campaign against Prop 1 and after sealing the deal their complaints are invalid.

March 4, 2014 at 5:19 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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The three words that best describe you are, and I quote, “Stink, stank, stunk”

March 5, 2014 at 8:16 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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fred davie

Who cares about the 400+ jobs? As long as we don’t have to wiff a bad smell. Couldn’t have even a smidgen of discomfort in our utopian lifestyles. Cleanup on aisle 133….three liberals have soiled themselves.

March 5, 2014 at 11:07 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Over the decades, this plant has cost Tacoma more than 400 jobs.  After all, what company or private citizen would build next to a stink factory if they are given the opportunity not to?

March 5, 2014 at 11:51 am / Reply / Quote and reply

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Opportunity cost is a sound economic concept that’s neither liberal nor conservative.  A pulp mill in a highly populated area inevitably carries with it a high opportunity cost.  I’m not anti-paper industry, just in favor of appropriate siting for polluting industries.  A pulp mill in the middle of the Tideflats does more harm than good for Tacoma.

March 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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That bad smell is Phosphorus Dioxide and pretty much is the reason people have chronic bronchitis in the area.  Simpson Kraft would regularly get fined for exceeding their allowable ppm to expel in the air.  Let’s hope the new tenant isn’t as cheap with our health.


March 5, 2014 at 5:39 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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Nothing like getting up on a beautiful sunrise morning in the great city of Tacoma and taking a good deep breathe of the fresh air…. I mean AROMA… that still pollutes the air in Tacoma from that rotting sawdust.  Hopefully this new company will clean up some of that air quality, somehow, some way.  This is a big hurdle for the downtown area of Tacoma to overcome.  The smell here is still bad, and people can still say “Tacoma Aroma” and be justified.  Yes, it has gotten better in the last 10 years, but it could still be much improved.

March 5, 2014 at 1:32 pm / Reply / Quote and reply

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