A Very Special Visit

Words to live by: Turning Pulp into Possibilities; Making Big Ideas Fly; All Custom Specifications; To Protect our Customer’s Products; We Design to Our Customer’s Specification; Bigger, Brighter, and Stronger Together.

The above words do not describe the normal company involved in pulp and paper; however, they do describe one of the very special companies in our industry—Expera Specialty Solutions™.

Expera & Larry
Russ Wanke (left), president and CEO of Expera, and Larry N. Montague (right) of TAPPI

The Company
Scott Springmier, Tess Ventress, and I had the privilege of sitting down with Expera’s Russ Wanke, president and CEO, and several of his senior management team on Wednesday, February 12. This meeting was to discover more about the transformation of North America’s largest manufacturer of specialty paper solutions with a leading portfolio of brands. The group gathered, just in the conference room, had a combined 187 years of experience in our industry.

Expera employs 1,800 talented people and has four mills located in Kaukauna, De Pere, Mosinee, and Rhinelander, Wis., USA. In addition, it has a supply agreement with a bleached pulp mill in Maine. The company-owned facilities contain 16 paper machines, two coaters, and two unbleached pulp mills.

The Name
What’s in a name? Customers have explained that they turned to Expera for its Expertise andExperience. This combined with a new Era for all four facilities doing things that others say can’t be done resulted in Expera Specialty Solutions.

The Product Lines
New products represent an industry-unprecedented 25% of Expera’s sales each year. The company’s product sectors include Industrial & Technical Specialties, Food, and Pressure Sensitive Release Liners. Key applications include:

  • Interleaver for steel and glass
  • Gumming and masking tapes
  • Saturating and laminating base
  • Flame resistant
  • Insulation
  • Electrical
  • School kraft
  • Medical disposables
  • Microwave popcorn bags
  • Quick service restaurant
  • Food service
  • Parchmentizing
  • Flexible Packaging
  • Pan Liner, baking, and confectionary cup stock
  • Meat and dairy interleaver
  • Bacon layout
  • Prime and variable information labels
  • Industrial tapes and sealants
  • Fiber composite
  • Medical, hygiene, and casting (casting example—the new Dreamliner jet).

The Downside
When we asked the group about the downsides to their business, the resounding answer was regulation. This continues to be our industry’s biggest competition. To that point, we specifically discussed the Industrial Boiler MACT legislation requiring hard decisions for companies in the U.S. who depend on solid fuel boilers to manufacture their products. The costs to comply with some of the pending legislation will equate to 5% - 10% of payroll in some cases, or up to four years of discretionary capital spending that otherwise could provide better products and employ more people in the U.S.

Our Thanks
The Expera team members who met with us included Russ Wanke, Sue Manders, Robyn Buss, Ann Funk, John Katchko, Rob McNutt, Lee Hammen, Jeff Verdoorn, and Addie Teeters.

We enjoyed our visit with Expera Specialty Solutions™. I believe they are poised for great things with their leadership team and product lines.

More information on Expera is available online.

More information about TAPPI is also available online.

"There are two types of people in our industry—TAPPI members and those who should be."

Until next time,

Larry

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Seneca Steel Erectors, Inc.

Eric Fletty and I recently discovered that the town of Logan, OH is home to Men and Women of Steel.


An Accent on Innovation

On May 13, 2014, Eric Fletty and I had the opportunity to visit with one of TAPPI’s Sustaining Member companies, Kadant Inc., at its Kadant Johnson facility in Three Rivers, Mich., USA. 


A Small World

On June 25, 2012, Scott Springmier, Eric Fletty, and I accepted a previous invitation from long-time TAPPI member and a young, Mike Ditka look-alike, Jim Niemiec...

Paper Shows up in the Strangest Places

I have adopted nine cities in my career in this industry, but my hometown was and remains to be Memphis, Tenn., USA.

Dreams Do Come True

Dreams do come true...in so many ways. Our industry has been called many things during the past 2,000 years...


Is it the People or the Equipment?

Finally an answer to that age old argument—is it the people or the equipment?


You Never Know

John, you will be missed...

All About Axchem

Larry spends time with TAPPI's newest Sustaining Member company at PaperCon 2016

The Missing Link

The dates of February 28-March 1, 2012 will go down in history as the kick off dates of the one event that has been on the minds of many...


Familiar Names, a New location and a New Attitude

April 19 20, 2017 (right before PaperCon2017) Kristi Ledbetter, TAPPI’s Converting Division Manager, and I had the privilege to revisit a company that I had the pleasure of writing about several years ago.

The Great Pacific Northwest! Part 1 of 3

Travels with Larry February 2017 


There's No Place Like Home

When visiting Thompson Industrial Services, LLC, Eric Fletty and I had the pleasure to visit a town that neither of us had been before.

What a whirlwind in September & October 2016 Volume 2

Fall 2016 -- I have seen the Future


Runs Batted In

In non-baseball terms, RBI stands for the Renewable Bioproducts Institute located at Georgia Tech. 

What a whirlwind in September & October 2016 Volume 1

Fall 2016 -- Keynote Speaker at Pulp and Paper Industry Reliability and Maintenance Conference. 

When It Rains, It Poors Or Does it?

When it rains, it pours… or does it? During TAPPI’s recent, very successful, PEERS and IBBC conferences in Tacoma, WA, we had over 400 people registered. There were representatives from 14 countries who attended these meetings. Three of

The Year of the Dragon: Part 2

This past May 31, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with personnel from APRIL's pulp mill in Rizhao, Shandong Province, China.


International Research Management at Its Best

On Nov. 4-7, 2013, 36 of our industry’s’ top research leaders, representing more than 30 institutions...

Riddle Me This!

On Thursday, January 8, 2015, Kristi Ledbetter, Eric Fletty and I had the privilege of having two gentlemen from one of TAPPI’s newest Sustaining Members...

The Sometimes Unsung Leaders of TAPPI

I have to be one of the most blessed people on the face of the earth. I get to go to work each day in an industry where I always wanted to work, at an association that I have

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