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Sappi Westbrook is thriving, finding success in a niche market

In Westbrook, one of the oldest paper mills in the state is thriving, making a specialty product that’s shipped all over the world. (WGME)

Westbrook (WGME) – The roots of Maine’s pulp and paper industry are still embedded in areas across the state, but some are stronger than others.

In Westbrook, one of the oldest paper mills in the state is thriving, making a specialty product that’s shipped all over the world.

“You innovate your way out of your challenges and this mill is a great example of that,” said Mike Standel, the managing director of Sappi Westbrook.

Standel says in 2004 the Sappi Westbrook was repurposed solely for specialty papers with a focus on textured release paper. The release paper is used as a mold to print textures on fabrics and plastics.

“You would be amazed at how many times you touch our product in the course of a day,” Standel said.

Standel says the Westbrook mill is the market leader in textured release paper producing approximately 40,000 metric tons of the coated specialty paper annually. The demand for it is huge.

“We are 90 percent export from this facility here,” Standel said. “90 percent of what we do goes overseas, goes to all the various continents. We do business in 100 different countries.”

Standel admits the mill is much different now than it was in it’s heyday. As S.D. Warren the mill employed 3,000 people and churned out paper in its traditional form. Now Sappi employs 300 people producing a specialty product. A much different look from what many in Westbrook remember, but Standel says that’s OK.

“We’ve reinvented ourselves multiple times,” he said. “[We’re] always ready for the next challenge and it’s not a matter of if we can, it’s when we’ll do it. And that’s really the vibe and the culture here.”

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