We have come out of a long pause, and we are working to finish Paper Town. After discussions with people in the field, and lots of thinking, we decided how to tell the story of this town and its paper makers. And while doing so, we explore how a business deals with challenges and victories.
Paper Town, 2021-2022
At MeadWestvaco in Lee, Massachusetts, Pat Begrowicz was showing potential buyers the paper mill she managed in South Lee, Massachusetts. The other mills in town, owned by another company, were closing. In this town, it might be end of paper making after 200 years of making paper.
Two colleagues came to Pat and suggested the three of them make an offer on the business. “No way, she said. I have kids, I am a single mom, and I cannot take that kind of risk. They said they would not do it without her, and they would keep her posted on what they learned. She continued to show the mill to potential buyers.
Then 2008 came and with it a major national financial crisis.
Fast forward, Pat joins with Chris Matthews and buys the business.
In Paper Town, our working title, we follow Pat, the president, and Chris, vice president, as they navigate the decision, the purchase, and how they run an industrial business in a challenging time for American industry.
We interviewed paper makers at Schweitzer Mauduit, the other company with a deep local history, at Meadwestvaco, now Onyx, and other people in town, as well as historians and a buyers and seller of used paper machines.
In the process, we learn about the deep 200-year history of paper making in this town, Lee, Massachusetts. The victories and challenges faced by the early paper makers in a town that once had 24 mills are placed side by side with, challenges and victories that Onyx, (the mill owned by Pat and Chris) sees today.