Port Townsend Paper Mill is pictured in this file photo. (Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend Paper Mill is pictured in this file photo. (Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend Paper mill, parent firm purchased

Private equity company buys Crown Paper Group, Inc.

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend Paper Corp., one of Jefferson County largest employers with more than 300 workers, has been acquired by Atlas Holdings, a private investment and equity firm located in Greenwich, Conn., according to a press release from the company.

The acquisition was part of a larger transaction that included Crown Paper Group, a holding company created in 2015, and acquired Port Townsend Holdings Company, which includes the Port Townsend paper mill in Port Townsend; the Crown Packaging plant in Vancouver, B.C.; the Boxmaster packaging plant, also in Vancouver; and Distribution Centers in Kelowna, B.C., and Calgary, Alberta.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Reached in New York City, Sonia Bucan, an analyst for public relations firm Kekst CNC, said no further information beyond the press release was being released.

No information was available about any changes in store for the Port Townsend mill.

Atlas Holdings is a private equity firm founded in 2002. According to its website, the firm prefers to invest in numerous varied industries in addition to paper products and packaging.

Port Townsend City Manager John Mauro said, “We heard about it a little before it happened, so we are aware. The city perspective is the water supply, which was built into our water contract that was approved last year.”

Mauro said the contract includes flow rates, administrative costs and how the city and the mill invest in the 94-year-old water line, which recently was rebuilt, that brings water 29 miles from the Big and Little Quilcene rivers.

“I have proudly spent my professional life strengthening and growing paper and packaging businesses and could not be more excited to take on this new role as chairman of Crown Paper,” said Randy Nebel, Crown board of directors chairman, in the press release.

“Our goal is simple; we will be a superb employer, a trusted steward of our communities and a valued partner for our customers and suppliers.”

Atlas co-founder and managing partner Tim Fazio also said, “It’s always an exciting day when we can welcome a great paper and packaging company to the Atlas Family of manufacturing, distribution, and logistics businesses.

“Atlas planted its roots in paper when we were founded with the purchase of a single corrugated medium mill in Indiana, preserving jobs and transforming operations to lay a strong foundation for future growth.

“Now, more than two decades later, paper, packaging and allied industries remain an important and growing sector for Atlas. We’re thrilled to welcome the Crown team and excited to get to work in building an even stronger company,” Fazio said.

Sam Astor, a partner in Atlas, said “Atlas has a long and established track record of investing in the pulp, paper and packaging industries, partnering with exceptional leadership teams to revitalize and strengthen companies for the long term.

“We’ve invested significant resources and partnered with companies at an inflection point in their journey, and we view Crown as another opportunity to put this experience to work. Today, these companies, including Finch Paper, Iconex, Marcal, Millar Western Forest Products and Twin Rivers Paper Company, are leaders in their markets.”

Janet O’Neil, senior vice president at Atlas Holdings, said: “Atlas has owned and operated businesses that have similar operations and footprints as Crown, including paper mills, packaging manufacturers and wood products leaders with operations in the U.S. and Canada.

“In each case, these companies have been strong economic engines in their local economies. As such, we bring a unique set of capabilities and relevant experience to our partnership with Randy and the Crown team.”

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at brian.gawley@soundpublishing.com.

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