January 14, 2012

20 will lose jobs in Monmouth plant closing

CRAIG CROSBY / The Kennebec Journal

MONMOUTH -- Nearly two dozen employees at Newark Paperboard Products learned Friday that they will be out of work within the next two months.

David Ascher, vice president of the New Jersey-based Newark Group, said the company's plant at 904 Main St. in Monmouth will close within 60 days and perhaps sooner. About 20 people work at the manufacturing plant, which produces paper tubes, Ascher said.

Employees were notified of the decision Friday morning, he said. He wouldn't say what the workers' average salaries were.

"They'll be operating for 60 days, generally," Ascher said.

Ascher said his company had not notified town officials of the plant's closing.

Selectman Douglas Ludewig said he Friday he was disappointed when he learned second-hand of the company's decision to close the plant. Monmouth has a population of about 4,000.

"It's unfortunate for the town and the people who work there," Ludewig said.

The Newark Group, which has plants in 16 states as well as Canada, Germany and Spain, produces recycled packaging products for industries across the globe.

Ascher wouldn't say why the Monmouth plant is closing.

"We just think we can continue production more efficiently in another way," Ascher said. "We won't state anything further in that regard."

The Newark Group filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June 2010, according to an online story published by Bloomberg Businessweek. A group of five lenders helped buoy the company with a $110 million investment. At the time, Newark officials said the company had been impacted by sluggish sales resulting from the downturn in the U.S. economy.

The Newark Group arrived in Maine in 1997 when it bought the Yorktowne Paper Mill in Gardiner, which was home to Gardiner Paperboard. At the same time, the company opened Newark Paper Tube in South Gardiner.

Gardiner Paperboard closed in 2001. Newark Paper Tube moved to its Monmouth plant about five years ago, Ascher said.

Production of the tube products will be picked up elsewhere in the company, Ascher said.

"We're certainly not disclosing how we're going to do that," he said.

Ascher said his company leases the 62,000-square-foot Monmouth building from Auburn-based Nobility LLC. The building is the former home of Dumont Industries, which closed in 2002. About 100 employees worked at the Dumont plant, making components for power plants and dehumidifying systems for indoor swimming pools.

Ludewig, the selectman, said the large facility sat vacant for a few years before Newark Paperboard moved in.

"We even looked at it as a building to be used by the town, but it was too expensive," Ludewig said.

Craig Crosby -- 621-5642


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