Hiring underway at IP fluff pulp mill

Published 11:11 am Monday, August 1, 2011

By Dale Liesch

The Tidewater News

FRANKLIN, Va. – International Paper began hiring for its Franklin mill’s fluff pulp operation effective Monday, Aug. 1.

The Memphis company, which closed its paper mill in June 2010, eliminating 1,100 jobs, will begin taking applications online only for some of the 212 positions, which will pay $13.53 to $27.05 an hour.

IP spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth said Friday the company anticipates bringing in workers as early as September. The plant is expected to go online in mid-2012.

“In order to meet that timeline, we are preparing to staff up,” Wadsworth said.

IP is looking for applicants with a minimum of 10 years experience in operation or maintenance of Franklin mill machinery or equipment with certification in paper, power and recovery, pulp, fibers, maintenance or shipping.

IP encourages former employees to apply.

“We have a high level of skill in our former employees,” Wadsworth said. “It would be advantageous to get these people back.”

John Smolak, president of Franklin Southampton Economic Development Inc., said this is more positive news for the community.

“It’s a great boost to everybody’s morale and psyche,” Smolak said. “I think it’s great news.”

Wadsworth doesn’t know how many workers will be hired initially. That will depend on the number of qualified applicants. IP plans to hire its 212 employees by spring.

Fluff pulp is used in a variety of absorbent products (baby diapers, adult incontinence products, feminine hygiene products, etc.) and in airlaid products such as cleaning and baby wipes.

IP is expected to invest $83 million in repurposing a portion of the Franklin facility as a fluff pulp mill. The plant will be capable of annually producing up to 270,000 metric tons of high quality fluff pulp for the global market.

Applications and resumes will be accepted at www.internationalpaper.com until Monday, Aug. 15. An electronic version of a resume must be included with the online application. Anyone who needs assistance can go to the Regional Workforce Development Center at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin.

(Dale Liesch is a Staff Writer for The Tidewater News in Franklin, VA, a sister publication of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index.)