Shell Chemical’s Reserve facility changes handsLEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / August 4, 1999LAPLACE – Shell Chemical’s facility in Reserve has changed hands, effective yesterday, according to the new owner.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 4, 1999

The 19-acre, 25-employee manufacturer of industrial cleaning chemicals was purchased for an undisclosed price by Tomah Products Inc., accordingto president and chief executive officer Stephen B. King.Tomah Products is a 32-year-old chemical manufacturer, headquartered in Milton, Wisc. The Reserve plant had $40 million in 1998 sales.However, King said, “The future of Tomah is here.”Tomah was founded by Mike Clumpner and named for his home town. Thecompany sold itself to Exxon in 1984, but in 1994 a buyout brought Tomah back to independence.

“For the past three or four years my vision has been to establish a second manufacturing site,” Knight said, “preferably on the Gulf Coast.”Two years ago talks were initiated with Shell Chemical to bring Tomah’s manufacturing facility closer not only to its raw material suppliers but also to many of its customers.

Tomah also manufactures chemicals for pulp paper processing and to extract ink from newspring for recycling.

There will be a few changes at the present Shell Chemical facility.

“We intend to make a fair amount of capital expenditures to expand the current and add new capabilities,” King added.

Employment levels will only go up with planned expansions, King assured.

Openings will develop for operators and technicians, and possibly engineers.

In addition, King continued, “management will stay exactly in place,” with King only making periodic visits. The current plant manager, Larry Paline,who now spends 80 percent of his time at Shell Chemical’s Taft facility, will move to Taft. Greg Linder, the new plant manager, will only makeweekly supervisory visits.

“It’s the team concept of running the plant,” King said. “If it’s not broken,don’t fix it.”Among those capital improvements will be to add certain surfacent, or surface active agent, chemical processing units and to double the dock facilities over the next five to seven years.

“When Shell bought that plant in 1991 (from Rhone-Toulenc), they put them through their paces to make it environmentally safe,” King said.

“Tomah will be equally responsible.”The plant was originally constructed in 1982.

And, Paline said, Shell Chemical isn’t simply importing its own competition. “They’re getting out of a market we’re in.”Tomah’s Wisconsin plant employs 55 people on a 26-acre site.

“It was a very attractive site with room to grow,” King said. “The peopleare great, industrious and efficient.” “This is part of a 5-year dream for me,” King concluded.

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