Clients like to see their own handmade products on the shelves, and in the papermaking industry, papermakers have been in a long tradition of producing their own goods.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time,” said Tom Trowbridge, president and CEO of Kentucky’s first papermaker, Louisville Papermakers.
“But it’s really grown from that.
We started out making paper with the same people that we have today, and the people who worked for us.”
In 2016, the company added a full-service printing facility to its manufacturing operation, adding a production facility and distribution center to meet growing demand for paper products, and plans to double production by 2021.
The company’s headquarters is located in Lexington, Kentucky.
The business, founded in 2013, has been profitable since 2017, but is still struggling to find a steady source of revenue.
“This is really a story of two industries that have been around for a very long time and they’re kind of falling apart,” Trowbridgesaid.
“You’re seeing the papermaker businesses, where people who grew up doing this kind of work, they’re getting their kids out and getting jobs in a world where you don’t need a college degree to do this.”
The rise of papermakers The business has been expanding steadily since it first opened, but Trow Bridgesays it is now facing a tough time in attracting customers.
“There is not a lot of competition,” Trows papermaker said.
“Papermakers, they are a very niche business.”
The industry was once the focus of a growing number of papermaking jobs, including in the fields of paper making, color and letterpress printing, and printing in metal, paper, and other industries.
But the growth in the business is coming from a changing landscape in papermaking as companies look to adapt to digital printing, while businesses looking to cut costs are moving to more specialized, print-only products.
The industry’s recent economic downturn has helped push the demand for more specialized and more print-oriented products, Trowbetsays.
“I think papermakers are a niche industry, but they are also part of a very strong industry,” he said.
The downturn has also forced the papermakers to look to other industries, like the manufacturing of medical and dental supplies, Trowsays.
The recession also saw a large number of jobs go unfilled.
“The jobs that were being filled with papermakers, those jobs are gone,” Troysaid.
The resurgence of paper manufacturing in Kentucky has also had an impact on the workforce.
In 2017, more than 8,000 people were laid off in Kentucky from jobs that could have been filled with people who might have been interested in a career in the industry, according to a survey by the Louisville Papermaker Association.
“It’s an extremely small workforce that can have a very big impact on our businesses,” TRowbetsaid.
Trowbringsays hopes that the resurgence of the paper industry will allow him to continue to bring customers back to his business.
“As much as we need the paper, it’s not as big a deal as we thought it would be,” hesaid.
“Our customers, they come back for a reason.”