Von Drehle begins expansion

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NATCHEZ — Crews have started doing some of the preliminary work that will eventually support von Drelhe’s 100-job addition at its Majorca Road facility.

The work, which started this week, is to prepare the ground for sewer and sprinkler lines, site manager Joe Pankratz said.

Engineering for the full expansion — which will house a paper-manufacturing operation — is nearly completed, and the contractors have been chosen for the project, he said.

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The von Drehle corporation manufactures what it characterizes as “away-from-home” paper tissue and towel products. It has already ordered a Metso paper machine for the site, which has the ability to manufacture paper using conventional and textured methods using virgin or recycled fibers.

“The machine will be ready for delivery in May 2015,” Pankratz said. “It will be disassembled, packaged and will start arriving here in the middle of June.”

The largest component of the new machine will be a 140-ton drying apparatus, he said.

The von Drehle facility was purchased in early 2013, approximately three months after the former Mississippi River Pulp shuttered its pulp recycling operations there.

The company announced its plan to resume the recycling process and to hire between 50 and 60 people, but said a major hiring push — for more than 100 additional employees — would follow with the advent of a paper manufacturing line.

Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said he is excited to see the initial groundwork beginning at the von Drehle site.

“This is the culmination of a year-long discussion, from the announcement to ordering machinery and equipment to beginning construction,” he said.

“It will eventually mean 100 new jobs that will come into the area, and roughly about $100 million worth of new investment. We are particularly excited to see this construction.”

Prior to being purchased by MRP in 2010, the Majorca Road facility was Mississippi River Corporation. When it opened in 1960, it housed Diamond International.