Harbor Paper management out, operations curtailed

The Daily World staff

Harbor Paper in Hoquiam will temporarily curtail operations during a transition period involving a “wholesale management change” at the mill, management of the mill announced Monday afternoon.

John Begley, who has served as the mill’s top manager since it reopened in August, is reportedly out.

It’s unclear whether the mill will see a total shutdown and information released by Elliot Rust Holdings LLC, which owns the mill, was sketchy at best.

About 180 people work at the mill.

Begley and Tacoma area investors reopened the mill after had closed as Grays Harbor Paper a year earlier. They announced their acquisition in April of last year and started production late in the summer.

“In any new enterprise, obstacles will present themselves, and not

all of them can be foreseen,” read a one paragraph press release from Elliot Rust Holdings LLC. “As Harbor Paper navigates these obstacles, we would like to express

our greatest appreciation for the continuing support and understanding Harbor Paper has received

from the Grays Harbor community. In light of the recent circumstances regarding operations,

Harbor Paper’s Board has made the difficult decision of making a wholesale management

change regarding operations at the mill. During this transition time, the mill will be temporarily

curtailing its operations. Harbor Paper hopes these changes will improve viability of the mill as

a long term enterprise.”

Tim Gibbs, CEO of Greater Grays Harbor, the local non-profit economic development operation that worked to help reopen the mill, said he had heard rumblings recently that there might be problems, be he was still surprised by today’s development.

“We were certainly not happy about what we heard today and stand ready to help in any way,” Gibbs said. “We’ve had conversations, and will continue to have them, about how to move forward in this. The jobs are the primary concern in our area. We stand ready to help the new management.”