For 100 years, a paper mill has been present in Manistique, Michigan. In 2015 the future of that community staple looked grim. With the transition to more online material and a diminishing reliance on newspapers and print material, the paper industry looked to be on the way out. That was until a small group of innovative investors decided to take a risk and do something that would allow the paper mill to not only continue to be an employer in the community, but to also flourish in a new way of producing paper.
UP Paper LLC, previously Manistique Paper, produces 100 percent recycled natural unbleached kraft sheets. Chances are the last time you had fast food or ordered a package from Amazon, you experienced a product that was created at UP Paper. Their paper is used in a variety of ways, from making fast food bags, to creating the paper “stuffing” used to safely transport your most recent online purchase. The decision to fully transition to this paper was not by accident either. UP Paper investors and management saw an opportunity to innovate in a different market, while also cutting the costly and time-consuming process of bleaching paper.
Their innovation did not stop at completing the product change either. UP Paper President & CEO Lars Dannberg and General Manager Greg Anderson went to work on finding ways to cut costs, while also increasing quality and decreasing their environmental impact. This effort involved completing their largest capital improvement project yet. Recent improvements allow them to become much more energy efficient by using variable frequency drive motors, changing the lighting in the mill to high efficiency lighting, and reducing their water consumption by up to 30 percent. Combine these upgrades with their ability to produce 100 percent recycled paper and one can easily see the direction that UP Paper owners are heading – toward sustainability and innovation.
This hard work has not gone unnoticed. In October, UP Paper was awarded the second Annual Rick Snyder Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award by the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM). SBAM awards just one Michigan small business who had a turnaround story that allowed them to achieve substantial growth. The award speaks volumes to the vision of investors and owners and the hard work of the near 100 employees at UP Paper, and it is something that makes Dannberg and Anderson extremely proud.
Longevity is not easy in any business, and the paper industry is no different. UP Paper has been able to take a long-standing business in the Manistique community and continue to innovate for success. Focusing on their customers, their employees, the community, and the environment has allowed them to push forward into year six under new ownership, with a sustainable future in mind.
By: Cloverland Electric's Key Accounts Specialist, Jake Brown.