Morris Housen, chief executive and president of Erving Industries, operates a paper mill in Erving, Massachusetts. Established in 1905, the company employs more than 100 people and has sustainability high on the agenda: it uses nearly 50 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 400,000mcf of natural gas annually. The mill produces napkin, towels and tissue paper. He talks to TWM.
TWM/1: What is the main opportunity for you over the next five years?
“We’d like to see a natural gas pipeline built so that we could take advantage of piped, low cost energy.”
TWM/2: What are the main challenges?
“China’s appetite for wastepaper impacts our wastepaper supply and pricing and wastepaper still has significant flow through Northeastern ports. Obviously, we prefer low and consistent pricing for wastepaper.
“New England electricity is the most expensive in the country. Reducing this cost is critical to long term sustainability.
“This is less of a regional issue, but the growing cost of health care and health care insurance is impacting both our bottom line and our employees pay cheques.”
TWM/3: Are you looking to grow or acquire?
“Erving is always interested in incremental growth and we consider both organic and acquisitional avenues. Our focus will remain on jumbo rolls, continuing to provide more, higher and higher quality rolls that meet our customers’ needs.”
TWM/4: How important is product innovation and environmental sustainability?
“Our mind-set is always on continuous improvement and lately we have had a focus on uniquely innovative products. With regards to environmental sustainability, our Millers River is known to be among the best trout fishing in Massachusetts. We are vigilant about keeping it clean and healthy.
“As a recycling mill, we produce a by-product comprised of significant quantities of precipitated calcium carbonate mixed with small paper fibre. We’ve spent a lot of R&D time, energy and money to find a sustainable solution for this product.”
TWM/5: Is there overcapacity in the tissue market there, and how are you dealing with it?
“We are experiencing overcapacity in the jumbo roll market. Offshore paper and new domestic mills oversupply and soften pricing. Obviously, we would prefer not to have this factoring into our business, but at the end of the day, we believe that competition breeds excellence.”