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Finch Paper Names New President and CEO

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Press release from the issuing company

GLENS FALLS, NY -- Finch Paper LLC today announced the appointment of former SCA Tissue-North America executive Joseph F. Raccuia as President and Chief Executive Officer of the uncoated printing paper manufacturer. The 50-year-old Mr. Raccuia succeeds Richard J. Carota, 71, who retired as President and CEO after 53 years with Finch Paper, but will continue in his role as Chairman of the company's Board of Directors and Chairman of the Board's Executive Committee.
"The Finch Paper brand is in demand by printers, designers, publishers and the most successful image-sensitive companies nationwide," Mr. Raccuia said. "Finch Paper is respected for delivering premium service to its customers and real value across its product lines, and I look forward to continuing and enhancing that value for our customers for years to come. Serving the customer and understanding their needs has always been paramount to me, and will continue to be so at Finch."
Andrew M. Bursky, Chairman of Atlas Holdings LLC, which co-owns Finch Paper with Blue Wolf Capital Management LLC, said, "For 25 remarkable years, Dick Carota has served Finch Paper as a gifted leader and a smart, tough and tireless competitor. The great respect and admiration Finch Paper has earned among our customers and competitors is due in no small part to Dick's keen vision and steady hand. "As we enter this new phase in Finch Paper's proud papermaking history, we are fortunate and excited to have a leader with the tremendous experience, ideas and enthusiasm of Joe Raccuia to carry on the Finch traditions of quality paper and unsurpassed customer service."
Mr. Raccuia joins Finch with more than 20 years of paper industry leadership experience, including six years as president and CEO of SCA Tissue-North America, the $1-billion manufacturer of 100% recycled napkin, towel and tissue products with 10 U.S. locations serving the "Away From Home" food service, commercial, industrial and healthcare industries.
During his tenure with SCA, Mr. Raccuia engineered a 35% growth in sales, taking the company from $750 million to $1 billion and propelling SCA to the number-two position in the U.S. Away-From-Home Market. He is recognized for his significant, strategic investments in new product development, and for his customer-focused management approach, which garnered SCA dozens of customer awards based on the company's world-class supply chain and service excellence. Mr. Raccuia also oversaw development of a $240 million fully-integrated Greenfield tissue manufacturing facility in Alabama.
In addition to these accomplishments, Mr. Raccuia developed an industry-leading alliance with the United Steel Workers (USW) union that, according to a 2006 union publication, resulted in a "formal partnership to engage in an open and honest relationship with one another and to look out for the best interests of the business and its employees."
Mr. Raccuia also brings to his new position a deep familiarity with the community of Glens Falls, N.Y., where Finch Paper was founded in 1865 and is still based. He served for three years as president and CEO of the then-Encore Paper Co. mill in South Glens Falls, N.Y., directly across the Hudson River from the Finch Paper mill, before joining SCA's North American operations upon SCA's purchase of Encore in 2001. Prior to his tenure with Encore, Mr. Raccuia held sales and management positions with Colgate Palmolive, Wisconsin Tissue and Roth Rockland Paper.
"This is both an exciting and challenging time to be leading Finch Paper," Mr. Raccuia said. "I look forward to further developing the manufacturing capabilities of the business and identifying and maximizing market opportunities. At the same time, as required by the current economic climate, we will be taking a closer look at all aspects of our operation to make sure that we are operating at peak efficiency while providing high-quality products to our customers."
Mr. Carota, 71, the Paper Industry Management Association's 1993 Executive of the Year, retired as Finch President and CEO after spending his entire 53-year career at the Finch Paper mill, rising from laborer to Chairman of the Board and leading the company through perhaps the most pivotal quarter-century in its 144-year history. His leadership enabled the single-mill company to expand its sales across the country and remain independent through a period of industry-wide mill closures and consolidation. He led the company through the sale of the family-owned business to the partnership of Atlas Holdings LLC and Blue Wolf Capital Management LLC in 2007 and the subsequent sale of its vast Adirondack forestlands to The Nature Conservancy.
Among his most significant accomplishments, Mr. Carota expanded Finch Paper's market presence and product mix, developing a nationwide network of Finch Paper merchants; spearheaded the company's entrance into the premium text and cover paper market, with the introductions of the Finch Fine and Finch Premium Blend product lines; and championed Finch Paper's receipt of the coveted Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) green certifications for the company's forestry practices and its products. He also oversaw a $20 million modernization of the company's largest and most productive paper machine; the development of a $25 million cogeneration plant that has made the company largely energy-independent; and the $10 million conversion to an elemental chlorine-free pulp bleaching process to protect the environment.
Mr. Carota has always said his proudest and most enduring professional accomplishment came in the early 1970s as he spearheaded a complex and all-consuming project to master the company's new and unique ammonium bi-sulfite pulping process. The company had gone in search of a new and improved pulping technology that would allow it to begin producing the premium printing papers that are its staple today. They turned to its corporate neighbor, Kamyr Inc., to develop a one-of-a-kind continuous digesting process in which both hardwoods and softwoods would be pulped together. The goal was to produce pulp with both high strength and high brightness, but the innovative process was plagued with persistent operational problems. In 1972, after many months of operation without the sulfite process actually producing pulp suitable for making paper, then-Finch, Pruyn Chairman, President and CEO Lyman Beeman selected Mr. Carota, then the youngest paper mill manager in the country at age 32, to direct all his attention to the pulp mill in an effort to correct the problems. Mr. Carota worked more than 300 days there without a day off to get the new process to run properly. He succeeded, and the high-quality pulp the mill began producing has been pivotal to the company's subsequent success.
"For more than 50 years, I have had the pleasure of coming to work every day to a job I love and to professional challenges that still excite me. After my family, the people of Finch Paper have meant more to me than anything else in my life," Mr. Carota said. "Though I will no longer have an active role in day-to-day operations of the mill, I am eager to continue working on the long-term success of this business in my capacity as Chairman."




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