Peshtigo paper company ramps up wrapper production for salt water taffy season

Tuesday, Feb 03, 2015

A lot of products – especially paper – are made right here in Wisconsin.

But there are some that you might know about.

And for BPM, Inc. in Peshtigo, right now is the specialty paper manufacturer ramps us to keep a favorite summer candy under wrap.

Salt water taffy.

The multi-colored, chewy, wax-paper-wrapped candy is one many have grown up with. While it is often made in far-flung factories or small mom-and-pop shops around the country and state, millions of the special wrappers are made right in the small Northeast Wisconsin town.

“You go to the Wisconsin Dells, the east coast, in the summer time, all you see is taffy wrap,” said BPM’s converting manager Rod Wiltzius.

“There’s a large candy show in Chicago and we went there and saw all the taffy wrap,” Wiltzius said, “and it was like, ‘wow, we’re missing out on something here.'”

Under new ownership , the former Badger Paper Mill expanded its product line. The 110-employee company makes and converts specialty confectionary paper packaging – from suckers to cough drops, hamburger patties, and of course taffy.

“To have fresh taffy, (confectioners) start making it in the summer time, so that’s why we start ramping up now so they have their wrappers and they’ll start making it and producing it for June – or May, actually.”

Wiltzius says at this time of year, production roughly doubles. So how many pieces of candy is that? Well one roll of waxed paper can wrap roughly 16,300 pieces. There are 144 rolls per pallet, and at least 20 pallets per semi-truckload, which is more than 46 million pieces of salt water taffy.

Last year, for taffy alone, the company says it sold enough wrap for 1.2 billion pieces.

BPM general manager Jim Koronkiewicz says the company is wanting to grow, and run operations 24/7. But a not-so-sweet part of the gig is finding a skilled workforce, as the baby-boomer generation retires.

“I already have – in my workforce – I know that five are retiring this year,” Koronkiewicz said. “So it’s replacing them. And that’s tough.”

A far more difficult task than choosing which flavor of taffy you prefer to pop in your mouth, or pocket.


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