Manufacturing and Small Business & Startups

Fine paper distributor turns to new owner

November 15, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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Fine paper distributor turns to new owner
Scott Tietema, president of Quimby Walstrom, stands among inventory at the fine paper company’s Walker distribution center. Photo by Pete Daly

A fine paper distributor operating in the area since 1919 has a new owner.

Divisions of Quimby Walstrom’s parent company, Bradner Central Co. in Elk Grover, Ill., have been acquired by Central National-Gottesman of Purchase, N.Y.

Terms of the sale were not released.

Quimby Walstrom, which has been based in the Grand Rapids area since 1919 and employs 38, is a merchant of fine paper for commercial printing.

It has a 40,000-square-foot warehouse on Walkent Drive in Walker and a 35,000-square-foot warehouse in Dexter, near Ann Arbor.

Rick Bull, chairman/CEO of Bradner, told the Business Journal no changes are expected in Quimby employment in Michigan.

Subsidiary

Since 2005, Quimby — known simply as Quimby in the fine paper industry — has been owned by Bradner.

Bradner announced the sale of nearly all of its paper distribution subsidiaries to CNG this month, with closing of the deal expected Nov. 15.

CNG’s Lindenmeyer Munroe division now will include Quimby, as well as other former Bradner paper distributors in Illinois, Wisconsin, Georgia and Texas.

“We look forward to joining forces with Lindenmeyer Munroe and are excited to be able to expand the products and services required by our customers and suppliers,” said Timothy F. Shannon, president of Bradner Central’s Merchant operations.

Scott Tietema, president of Quimby in Walker, said Quimby will have access to Lindenmeyer paper inventories throughout the Midwest, creating a “dramatic increase” in inventory for its customers, which are located throughout most of Michigan, with the exception of southeast Michigan.

Family owned businesses

Bradner was founded in Chicago in 1852 and has been owned and operated by the Bull family for the last seven generations.

Bull, who is approaching retirement, said Bradner has always been a family owned business and so is CNG.

“Of all of the options for the sale of our paper distribution business, I am quite glad CNG was the one we were able to work with,” Bull said. “Their philosophy of the highest standards of customer service, fair dealing with their suppliers and a commitment to be good citizens of the communities that they operate in best matches our own.”

Bull added that “being a multi-generational family held business,” CNG “makes me confident the transition of the business from us to them will be, for the most part, seamless to our trading partners.”

Founded in 1886, CNG is one of the largest privately held pulp, paper, packaging and tissue companies in the world, with revenue exceeding $4 billion in 2011, according to its website.

Fine paper market

Quimby supplies fine paper for commercial printing: primarily, coated stock for magazines, catalogs, brochures and pamphlets.

Due to the Internet, paper consumption per capita in the U.S. has been in slow decline for several years, but Quimby's Tietema noted paper distribution “is still a vibrant industry for those that are doing it right.”

He said fine paper for printing is an important business worldwide, because there is still great demand from many consumers for “collateral you can touch.”

Sappi Fine Paper, which owned and then closed the long-standing paper mill in Muskegon a couple of years ago, was and still is a major supplier to Quimby, Tietema said.

Pulp for paper production is still produced in North America, as well as in the Scandinavian countries and in Asia, Bull said.

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