BROWNVILLE After four months of installing production equipment and interviewing applicants, Florelle Tissue Corp., 1 Bridge St., officially kicked off production Monday, President Harry Minas reported.
Its an exciting time for Mr. Minas, who for the last two years has been busy securing the funding and making plans to outfit the 94,000-square-foot plant, formerly Brownville Specialty Paper Products Inc.
Since January, weve reopened the mill from its closed state to have operational production right now, he said. Weve brought a building that was closed for three years back to life.
Fifteen production workers now work at the plant, where they began operating a napkin machine Monday. Soon, packages of napkins produced at the plant will be shipped to customers in Canada, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Mr. Minas said.
Well have a second machine up and running by the end of this week, he said, adding that the plant will add a second 12-hour production shift this month. The napkins have already been sold, and we have clients across Canada that are waiting for the product.
To be ready this month, three more converting machines are being installed that will produce paper towels and bathroom tissue, Mr. Minas said. The plant will hire an additional 15 to 20 production workers to operate that equipment. Those positions will be announced this month at the Workplace, 1000 Coffeen St., Watertown, which will accept applications for the jobs. Interviews will be conducted at the employment agency.
Itll probably be a couple of weeks before were ready to hire, but it should happen by the end of May or beginning of June, Mr. Minas said.
The starting hourly wage for production jobs is in the range of $8 to $10.50, he said, while wages for other skilled maintenance positions is up to $18 an hour.
Mr. Minas said the plant will continue installing converting equipment throughout the summer. A paper machine that will convert virgin pulp to paper is being installed, which will be completed by August; more converting machines will be installed in June.
Mr. Minas said by the end of the year, the plant will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Employees will work on two 12-hour shifts every day.
I foresee the machines being installed by late summer, he said. We hope to be hitting our target of 70 to 75 employees by the end of the year.
Reported to cost more than $4 million, the project received funding from several local sources, including a $350,000 loan from the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, a $250,000 loan from the Development Authority of the North Country, a $125,000 loan from the North Country Alliance and a $100,000 grant from the Jefferson County Local Development Corp.