Fort Mill Times

Catawba paper mill gets new name

A new name is being put on the building and there's a new logo, but to those who work at the sprawling paper plant in southeastern York County it will always be Catawba Operations.

AbitibiBowater, the mill's owner, has changed its name to Resolute Forest Products. The company is already using the name, although it won't become official until approved by stockholders in April.

"It will always be Catawba Operations" said Seth Kursman, vice president for corporate communications, sustainability and government affairs at Resolute Forest Products. "But it's not AbitibiBowater anymore.

"The operations are now under one name, one vision," Kursman said from the company's Montreal offices.

Greenville-based Bowater opened the Catawba plant off S.C. 5 in 1957. Bowater merged with Abitibi Consolidated in 2007 to form AbitibiBowater, one of the world's largest paper producers. The mill has about 770 employees and makes coated paper for magazines and market pulp for paper towels and tissues.

The plant has not had layoffs since April 2010 and recently started hiring, said Barry Baker, human resources manager.

The name change reflects the resolve the company has shown in recent years, Kursman said.

AbitibiBowater filed for bankruptcy in April 2009 and emerged from it in December 2010 a "fundamentally different company," Kursman said.

"With coming out of bankruptcy and diversifying the company, it made sense to change the name," he said.

The company asked employees for suggestions. More than 1,400 new names were offered, many by employees from the Catawba mill, Baker said.

The new name was suggested by two different employees, showing the diversity of the company, Kursman said.

One suggestion came from a Canadian mill in Ontario that produces lumber. A similar suggestion was made by a worker at a Calhoun, Tenn., plant that makes newsprint.

The winners shared a $30,000 prize, Kursman said.

The company's new logo represents the forest, and the paper and lumber products the company manufactures.

According to the company, paper products are reflected in the half-circle of the "R", symbolizing a paper roll, as well as in the folds within the logo. The rectangular and triangular shapes, in the legs of the "R," represent pulp bales, wood products and forestry.

The use of green as a primary color is to show the company's commitment to sustainability, officials say.

Kursman said rebranding of companies typically costs millions, but he said Resolute Forest Products did it a "fraction of that" by doing most of the work in-house. He did not release a specific cost.

The rebranding includes new signs and stationery.

Baker said the Catawba mill will exhaust its current stationery before making the switch. The Catawba mill will get new signage.

The cost was not disclosed, but one mill, Kursman said, made the switch for less than $4,000.

One switch that hasn't been made yet is the Internet address. You can still find the company at bowater.com.

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