Demopolis, Marengo leaders respond to Rock-Tenn

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 2, 2005

Its no secret that the biggest impact of the sale of Gulf States to Georgia based Rock-Tenn will have the biggest impact right here in Demopolis. The Demopolis Pulp and Paperboard Mill, located on Highway 80 employs 450 people and is among the largest sources of work in the area.

The mill has proven to be extremely efficient through the years operating as one of the lowest cost solid bleached sulphate paperboard mills in North America. Facts like this immediately caught the eye of Rock-Tenn and led to purchase negotiations.

Through the process Rock-Tenn has also caught the eye of city and county leaders. Local leaders asked about the sale said they were very optimistic about their new partner.

Demopolis Mayor Cecil P. Williamson said she looks forward to building a healthy relationship with their new partners.

“We are thrilled,” Williamson said. “We are looking forward to working with Rock-Tenn and developing the same partnership that we had with Gulf States.”

Marengo County Commissioner Ken Tucker said he feels grateful to Gulf States for the positive impact they have had on the county and entire Black Belt through the years. Tucker said they have never failed to do their civic duty when asked.

“Gulf States has been a positive part of Marengo County for many years,” Tucker said. “They have had a tremendous impact on our economy for a number of years and have always been outstanding in their willingness to cooperate and get involved in the community.”

With the change comes opportunities and Tucker said they are eager to begin a similar relationship with their new friends at Rock-Tenn.

“As for our new industry, we hope to share in the same type of relationship we had with Gulf States,” Tucker said. “It doesn’t appear as if there will be any significant changes as far as employment.”

Many believe the end result with the completion of the sale will be a great benefit to both companies. Tucker said, looking at the big picture, it appeared that things would work out for the better as far as both companies were concerned.

“This should be a positive for both companies,” Tucker said. “We are looking forward to this having a positive impact on Demopolis and Marengo County.”

The strong national reputation Rock-Tenn brings to the table has many local leaders excited about the future. Rock-Tenn is one of North Americas leading manufacturers of packaging products, merchandising displays and recycled paperboard.

Tucker said the success they have achieved in the past shows that they are more than willing to do whatever it takes to remain competitive in a highly competitive international market.

“Rock-Tenn seems to have made a commitment to being a major player in this market,” Tucker said. “I think that bodes well for everyone.”

Job security is the key for most employees in the sale. Because of the nature of Rock-Tenn’s business the local Gulf States branches appear to be a good fit for their employees as far as job security is concerned.

Jay Shows, President of the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce, said the new addition looks to be a good one.

“From talking with different individuals in upper management they feel very good about the stability of their jobs,” Shows said. “As far as Gulf States is concerned this is a very good fit. It looks like a sale that was made to order.”

Shows said Gulf States is unique to other mills owned by Rock-Tenn. He also believed this would add to job security.

“The job security at the mill should also be very good,” Shows said. “Rock-Tenn doesn’t have another mill like it so it looks like this is going to be a good fit for the employees.”

Reassurance also came from the states capital. District 23 Senator Hank Sanders said he felt that if Rock-Tenn’s intentions were as they seem the sale can be a positive change.

“Gulf States has been very important to the economy of Marengo County and West Alabama,” Sanders said. “This sale can be a good thing based on what they plan to do. If they expand resources this can be very good and I hope and pray that is what they plan to do.”