KAUKAUNA - Thilmany Papers officials say their paper mills in Kaukauna and De Pere are being sold.
KPS Capital Partners, a private equity firm out of New York, has agreed to purchase the mills from Packaging Dynamics, owned by the Kohlberg Company.
KPS is buying the two mills with a plan to keep them running.
"It's very exciting for us, just that the longevity of our paper mills is going to continue with this investment," said Addie Teeters of Thilmany Papers.
Thilmany officials say KPS plans to take its Kaukauna and De Pere mills and combine them with Wausau Paper's mills in Mosinee and Rhinelander, to form what could be the largest specialty paper company in North America.
KPS announced it was going to buy the Wausau Paper mills, last month.
"I think what it does is bring another generation of paper making to all these communities," said Jon Geenen, the international vice president for the United Steelworkers.
Currently, Thilmany employs about 800 people in its two locations. Thilmany officials say the new KPS company will have about 1,800 employees.
"Being that we produce specialty paper products, we're not at risk of electronic substitution like with the copy papers and printing and writing papers," said Teeters. "We really have a solid place in the marketplace."
According to its website, KPS invests in manufacturing companies that are either challenged or in a period of transition. KPS operates 85 manufacturing plants in 25 countries.
" The specialty industry has been badly fragmented and what KPS brings is a solution to that by consolidating the industry, so its more able to compete in a very, very difficult marketplace," said Geenen.
The Thilmany deal is contingent on the closing of the Wausau Paper deal. Thilmany's current owner expects the deal to be finalized in a few months.
"It's been our goal for the last several years to make money for our investors and we knew eventually we were going to be sold," said Teeters. "We didn't realize it was going to be this wonderful of a sale and really we are going to have such a good impact on the entire state of Wisconsin."
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