Holyoke’s Hampden Papers sold to Kentucky company

  • Hampden Papers, Inc. at 100 Water Street in Holyoke, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. The business has been sold. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hampden Papers, Inc. at 100 Water Street in Holyoke, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020. The business has been sold. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Hampden Papers Inc. at 100 Water St. in Holyoke is shown Tuesday. The business has been sold. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/29/2020 6:44:47 PM

HOLYOKE — After 140 years of local ownership, Hampden Papers has been purchased by the global packaging-materials and industrial-laminate company LLFlex.

In a press release Tuesday, LLFlex — which is based in Louisville, Kentucky — announced that it had acquired the assets of Hampden Papers, which specializes in paper, foil, film and holographic products as well as transfer metalized lamination, sheeting, and embossing.

Hampden Papers was founded in 1880 as the Hampden Glazed Paper and Card Co., and has operated as a family-owned business in Holyoke for five generations.

It was not immediately clear on Tuesday afternoon what the purchase will mean for the city, Hampden Papers’ 100 employees or its 300,000-square-foot manufacturing and warehousing plant at 100 Water St.

However, in an interview with the publication Triad Business Journal, LLFlex CEO Victor Dixon said that much of Hampden Papers’ equipment will be moved to the company’s new, 73,500-square-foot “fully integrated manufacturing facility” in High Point, North Carolina. Dixon also told the publication that the purchase may result in more jobs in North Carolina.

Hampden Papers did not return a voicemail left Tuesday afternoon, and efforts to reach leadership at LLFlex were unsuccessful.

In an email, Marcos Marrero, Holyoke’s director of planning and economic development, said it was his understanding that the company’s real estate wasn’t part of the transaction. He said the closure is part of “a very long trend in the paper textiles industry,” noting the sale of Curtis Business Forms and closure of Holyoke Machine Co. in recent years.

Marrero said that in the city’s industrial areas, cannabis manufacturing interests have been securing properties and that he could foresee that industry having possible interest in the Hampden Papers site.

In its statement, LLFlex said that acquiring Hampden Papers expands its footprint in the packaging and paper-based materials industries.

“The collective customers and broader market will notice immediate benefits by being able to source a wider range of products from one combined company that can better support brand owners, package designers, printers, converters and other related users of laminated and coated materials,” Dixon said in the company’s statement. “Bringing the high-quality Hampden products together with the large scale and robust global supply chain of LLFlex will result in a myriad of benefits for our valued customers.”

Hampden Papers was founded in 1880 by three men, according to the company’s website: Joseph Parsons, George Fowler and Col. Aaron Bagg. Eventually, the Fowler family purchased the majority of the company, and continued to own it until today. Robert Fowler is the current president of the company, according to corporate filings. A voicemail left for him was not returned Tuesday afternoon.

In 1973, the company adopted its current name. Over the years, the company has produced many different products, from “chaff” released from planes during World War II to fool enemy radar, to gift wrap and book covers, according to its website. In 1989 the company added 26,000 square feet of manufacturing space to its location, and in 1995 it added another 56,000 square feet.

The company’s website says it “boasts sales of $30 million.”

Holyoke was the center of the paper industry in the late 19th and early 20th century, earning the city its nickname, Paper City. Though many of those manufacturing jobs have since left Holyoke, the city is still home to specialty paper manufacturers like Hampden Papers and Hazen Paper Co.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at dchristensen@gazettenet.com.

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