MADAWASKA, Maine — Between 30 and 35 workers remain furloughed at Fraser Papers Inc. as the company continues to be cautious about overproducing.
In the face of the economic downturn that has hit the state’s paper industry especially hard, the company is not building speculative inventory.
Its machines are being monitored weekly to see if workloads merit their remaining operational, said William Peterson, the company’s director of human resources.
In mid-January the company temporarily shut down its papermaking No. 7 machine, citing a lack of confirmed orders, as part of a companywide effort to build and manage cash flow by running its machines only when orders are in hand.
Peterson said Friday that the No. 7 machine is now up and running, while the No. 5 and No. 6 machines are still idle for now.
“Our Number 6 machine is scheduled to run four days next week to fill our current order backlog,” Peterson said. “The No. 5 machine is scheduled to start up on Feb. 11 to fill our current order backlog.”
He stressed that all of that is subject to change depending on orders coming in.
“We just want to be prudent in our production,” he said. “We don’t want to overproduce but we also want to make sure that we can meet our customers’ needs.”
Late last year, the company shut down two of its six paper machines from Dec. 24 to about Jan. 5 to balance inventory levels of specialty and commodity groundwood papers with customer demand.
Fraser Papers produces a variety of technical specialty, fine printing and writing papers and groundwood papers. The mill normally employs about 700 workers and has a production capacity of 460,000 tons per year.
Katahdin Paper Co. LLC in East Millinocket announced earlier this week that about 140 workers will be furloughed for up to 28 days starting next week, and its No. 5 paper machine will be temporarily shut down Monday.
Wausau Paper in Jay laid off workers last year.