- July 31, 2004, Teresa Koltzenburg, Senior Editor
Established as a two-machine operation before 1920, Burrows Paper today boasts a dozen facilities. With a brand new Fischer & Krecke press, its newest packaging plant provides the promise of a thriving future.
There's something about having roots in Small Town America. Cursed and celebrated — sometimes in one breath after the other — Small Town America historically has performed, and still today plays, a leading role in politics, in literature, in the news, in movies…and in the business success story.
In November 1919, Burrows Paper Corp. began its almost-85-year history as a one-mill, two-machine papermaking company in the small city of Little Falls, NY. Today, Burrows Paper still makes its headquarter home in the under-6,000 community, but it also calls “home” several small- to medium-sized communities across America.
Considering the words of president and CEO Bill Burrows as well as the current status of Burrows Paper Corp., the company's chronicle seems to be yet another example of that familiar version of the small-town-beginnings American success story.
“Burrows Paper was started by my grandfather, and from 1919 to 1949 he grew the initial paper mill in Little Falls from a two-machine mill to three paper machines,” explains the third-generation company leader. “My dad ran the business from 1949 to 1976, and he grew it to five machines; he also added a paper printing and converting operation in Little Falls.”
In the year America celebrated her 200th, the current Burrows Paper president set out on the familiar growth-oriented path of his grandfather and father.
Today, Bill heads an integrated, multi-operation de-ink market-pulp production, papermaking, and converting corporation, with not only several plants in the US, but with an offshore location in Europe, too.
“We operate a recycled pulp mill in Little Falls. We also have four paper mills, two in Little Falls, one in Lyonsdale, New York, as well as one in Pickens, Mississippi. Our domestic packaging plants are in Fort Madison, Iowa; Reno, Nevada; Mount Vernon, Ohio; and Franklin, Ohio, and our European location is in Kerkrade, the Netherlands.
People and Prosperity
Over the years Burrows Paper has invested back into itself to sustain its continuous expansion and the development of its self-proclaimed niche — specialty, lightweight paper and packaging — in terms of both technology and equipment upgrades as well as in its employees. “I think we have the unusually good fortune of having 900-plus really good people working for our company,” says Burrows proudly. “That makes all the difference. Because it's the people that are innovative; it's the people that are driving the quality. It's the people that put the blood, sweat, and tears into satisfying the customers. It's all about the people at the end of the day.”
Over the last year, Burrows Paper has taken its distinctively successful mix of people and technology and put it toward growing the company further with a more than $30 million investment in a new, state-of-the-art package converting plant in Franklin, OH, an 11,000-plus community between Dayton and Cincinnati. “Our brand new plant is only three miles from the old plant,” explains Joe Healey, VP, corporate marketing and sales.
Healey adds almost all of the equipment in this new 275,000-sq-ft facility is brand new, including a 98-in.-wide Fischer & Krecke central impression gearless, sleeve-based flexo press, a 98-in.-wide BHS corrugator, and two Bobst CER die-cutters.
QSR Means Quality, Strength, and Research Too
The new technology in the Franklin plant will provide the company increased capacity to produce a mainstay of the quick-service restaurant (QSR) industry, micro-flute clamshell packaging, which Burrows manufactures with its F-lite, a strong, recyclable F-flute corrugated produced on its new BHS corrugator. “[That machine] is state-of-the-art equipment,” reports president Burrows. “[The new corrugator] has given us the capability of producing what we consider to be the best quality F-flute produced anywhere. And by that, I'm talking about flatness of board stacks; moisture profile uniformity; uniformity of bond between the medium and the liners; and accuracy.”
Though Burrows Paper's Franklin-based packaging division will continue to produce clamshells, Bill says the BHS corrugator (as well as the other new equipment in the nearly 300-employee-strong operation) will serve as executor of the plan to take the paper and packaging manufacturer into new markets for lightweight specialty paper. “We're in the process of developing a diverse array of new products,” explains Burrows. “What we're talking about is proprietary in nature, but I will say it's [in the realm of] custom-designed products.”
He continues, “The mission of Burrows is to become a world leader in quality and innovation for lightweight, specialty paper and packaging. In order to become the best in quality and the best in innovation, you have to have research and development capability for new product development…. In terms of innovation and quality, our [research and development efforts] are addressing the needs of our customers — all of whom are very quality conscious and innovation driven as well.”
The Attainable DreamBesides the BHS corrugator and the new Bobst die-cutters, Burrows Paper's Franklin plant operates more than 20 custom-designed, proprietary forming and gluing machines.
To provide the high quality graphics for the printed liners incorporated into its clamshell packaging, Burrows decided on the F&K 96S Flex Press. At 98 in. wide, the converter's new press in Franklin is the first North American installation of this ultra-wide model, and it fits perfectly into the corrugator's production template. “[Our new press was] designed at 98 inches to match our BHS corrugator,” says Bob Timmons, production manager at the Franklin plant. “We're able to run a wider web; previously, we could possibly get two forms across the corrugator, now we can get three, which means we're running 50 percent more production on the same roll.”
According to Jeff Hall, Franklin's plant manager, the new press will afford the packaging operation both higher productivity and better efficiency. “We're increasing our capacity in two ways: by going wider and by being able to produce at higher speeds,” Hall states.
Installed over this summer, the press already had gone through some testing by Burrows before it came to America. “A group of us traveled to Bielefeld, Germany, and actually witnessed our press run,” says Hall. “I personally ran it and did some changeovers. Then [F&K] tore it down and shipped it to us.”
The F&K press also is outfitted with an Eltromat video web inspection unit that monitors print quality.
The servo-technology-designed machine helps the Franklin plant turn out precisely printed, high quality jobs in a user-friendly and safe manner. “It's totally sealed when it runs; if you open any of the doors the press stops,” states Timmons. “It's also designed for quick changeovers, and it has an auto-washing system with automatic viscosity controls for the inking units.” Designed with a number of other handy components (like the electronically based control system), the new press, adds Timmons, “is a pressman's dream come true.”
Full Dream Ahead
It seems realized dreams are an integral part of Burrows Paper's company-wide character. From a two-machine operation in 1919 to a multiple-location, integrated manufacturing corporation operating on two continents today, Burrows Paper truly epitomizes Timmons' allusion to the familiar American adage, “making dreams come true.”
As for Burrows Paper Corp.'s future, well, the fact that it's environmentally aware (it sells recycled pulp and much of its packaging is recyclable) and diversified (it also operates two hydroelectric plants and supplies 30% of its own electric needs), is likely to keep the company on its growth path.
Burrows Paper's aptitude for global operation probably will add to its ever-expanding production capacity as well. “We see growth opportunities in places like Europe, where we [already] have one factory,” states president Burrows. “We're selling into more than 70 countries; 15 to 20 percent of our net sales today take place in countries outside of the US. And as economies grow in Asia, South America, the Middle East, and Africa, we perceive we have an enormous number of new opportunities ahead of us.”
Burrows Paper Corp.
730 E. Mill St.
Little Falls, NY 13365
Fischer & Krecke; fischer-krecke.biz
BHS Druck- und Veredelungstechnik; bhsworld.com
Bobst Group; bobstgroup.com
Eltromat GmbH; eltromat.de