Domtar, Cooper Standard to shut down over Christmas

Rick Wagner • Dec 20, 2008 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Domtar Paper Co. LLC is temporarily ceasing paper production at its Kingsport mill starting Tuesday, with production to resume Monday, Dec. 29.

And Cooper Standard Automotive in the Phipps Bend Industrial Park near Surgoinsville is temporarily closing Christmas Eve and not reopening until Monday, Jan. 5.

Tom Segelhorst, director of human resources for the Domtar plant, said the weeklong shutdown is to let demand catch up with supply, an issue throughout the paper industry.

Maintenance shutdowns are not uncommon this time of year, but he said the downturn in the economy is the cause this time.

“This isn’t a maintenance shutdown. It’s more of a market correction,” Segelhorst said Friday, adding that it also was timed to coincide with the holidays. “It’s something not uncommon in paper mills across the country.”

Scott Keys, manager of the Cooper Standard plant, said the downtime there is not driven by slow business despite turmoil in the automobile industry.

“Christmas this year is no different than what’s happened in other years,” Keys said Friday. “What is unusual is the very, very large extent of what is going on in many (automotive) assembly plants.”

Chrysler is idling all its plants for a month, while GM and Ford also are cutting back. The federal government is providing $17.4 billion in loans to the three U.S. automakers.

Come Jan. 5, however, Keys said the plant will resume production, especially of brake and fuel lines for the new Ford F Series pickup trucks. He said the plant took a hiatus in the summer while Food retooled to start making the new trucks.

The plant also makes parts for Chrysler, as well as some for General Motors, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz.

At Domtar, affected employees will be paid for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as holidays and can take vacation they have for the other days off. Otherwise, Segelhorst said, the days off would be unpaid.

A skeleton crew still will work during the shutdown, among other things keeping the boiler going, he said.

At Cooper Standard, Keys said some workers will be working on maintenance during the plant closure.

During the break, Keys said employees will get six days of holiday pay, meaning they have only to come up to two days of vacation or not get paid for two days.

At Domtar, Segelhorst said the temporary shutdown will have no impact on plans to add new equipment and 15 to 20 jobs at Domtar’s Ridgefields Converting Center, announced Wednesday.

The equipment will allow the facility to produce larger sheets compared to the 8½-inch-by-11-inch ones done there now.

Hiring will start in March and April, with the equipment — which came from a closed Domtar facility — to be in place and in use by July.

The Kingsport mill downtown, formerly operated by Mead and Willamette, employs 350. The Ridgefields Converting Center employs 37, not counting the 15 to 20 to be added next year.

For more information visit www.domtar.com.

Recommended for You