IVEX Specialty Paper recently celebrated its 100th anniversary and OLLI members visited the facility to learn about the history and future of the Peoria Papermill.
The tour was introduced with a background on the history of the company. The mill was originally the Illinois Paper Company, built in 1912 by Judson M. Bemis, an Illinois farmer. Manufacturing began in 1913. The plant was built with a paper mill and a small bag factory to produce white coated flour sack paper and consumer size flour bags. In the 1920’s the name of the plant was changed to the Bemis Bro. Bag Co. and in 1985 the mill was sold to a group of investors who changed the name to Petratex Paper Co. In 1987 Petratex filed for bankruptcy and the mill closed. IVEX Corporation reopened the mill in 1988 and successfully ran the mill until 2005 when the mill was acquired by Forest Resources LLC Mill Divis.
We were also given a guided tour of the facility to learn how IVEX uses both recycled and virgin fibers to produce natural and colored krafts. It was fascinating to see show much work was being accomplished at the plant even though there were more OLLI members on site than employees. The staff is fairly small in number, but many of IVEX employees have worked for the company for a number of years. One former employee, Ed Ward participated in the tour as an OLLI member. Ed seemed to be very nostalgic as he talked about his years with the company and reminisced with former colleagues on site.
The Learning Trip to IVEX Paper was a first-time tour for OLLI. We would like to thank Mark Reardon, General Manager, and his entire staff for opening their doors for an insightful OLLI tour.