Wausau Paper to Merge with Thilmany PapersSubmitted: 04/24/2013
Story By Lex Gray

RHINELANDER - We can file our taxes online, send emails instead of letters, and pay our bills without seeing a single piece of paper.

So it made sense that most of us worried Wausau Paper would shut down its Rhinelander and Mosinee mills.

But it now seems that probably won't be the case.

An investment firm in New York called KPS announced in late March it would buy Wausau Paper's Mosinee and Rhinelander mills.

We learned Monday KPS also plans to buy Thilmany Papers, which has mills in Kaukauna and De Pere.

KPS will form a new company made up of Thilmany and Wausau Paper's four mills.

That means the mills will probably stay open.

"This announcement is really great news, not only for Thilmany papers, but also for the entire paper industry in the state of Wisconsin," said Thilmany Papers spokesperson Addie Teeters. "This new company will form, by employee count, the largest paper company in the state, and the fact that we're going to support so many families in the state through well-paid jobs and strong papermaking historical franchises coming together, we're really excited about it."

While computers slowly shut down other parts of the paper industry, this new company won't be threatened, because it will make only specialty paper.

That includes paper for microwave popcorn bags, the medical industry, and sheets to protect steel.

"We are not at risk as some of our competitors have seen of electronic substitution," Teeter said. "We are not in the printing and writing business. Because we have such a strong market, we really feel that these businesses are going to be very strong in the future."

Wausau Paper's spokesperson Perry Grueber would not answer phone calls, but wrote in an email, "This is definitely a positive step."

The deal isn't finalized yet, but could be done as soon as June.

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