Almost a year after buying sprees in the toilet paper section of grocery stores across the country, the executives of an Anderson towel and tissue manufacturer have yet to take a breather, with plans to install an additional through-air drying machine.
“First Quality remains committed to the ultra-premium category and we are focused, particularly during these challenging times, on providing our customers and consumers with the quality bath tissue and towel products they need and desire,” First Quality’s Kelly Wolff said in a news release. “Adding additional state-of-the-art manufacturing capacity will enable First Quality to meet the growing demands of our customers in a timely and efficient manner. We want to express our sincerest appreciation to the entire Anderson County community, and especially the economic development team, for their continued support and partnership which has made this expansion possible.”
A new construction site and gate has popped up along Masters Boulevard in front of First Quality’s total 2.9 million-square-foot tissue production, print and packaging facilities, and company representatives report that the project is expected to conclude in the third quarter of 2022.
According to Anderson County property records, First Quality purchased a 96-acre property adjacent to its Masters Boulevard campus for $2.4 million in October 2020.
The expansion will add an estimated 70,000 tons of paper products to the company’s annual capacity, according to the news release. A through-air drying machine allows tissue to be dried without being compressed by running the paper through a vacuum box or vacuum roll, allowing for higher permeability than tissues dried through compression, according to industry site Tissue Story.
First Quality installed its fifth paper machine in 2016 at the Anderson facility after the Great Neck, N.Y.-based company purchased the former nylon fiber plant in 2010.
“Upon hearing this wonderful news about First Quality’s latest expansion, I was reminded of the tremendous faith the company showed in our community when they first arrived back during the Great Recession,” Tommy Dunn, Anderson County Council Chairman, said in the news release. “Now, as we work together as a county and a nation to move forward in the aftermath of the pandemic, I am gratified that their faith in our people and our workforce remains strong."
First Quality’s Anderson campus is one of two that produces toilet paper and paper towels for First Quality's Plenty and Panda brand alongside the company’s Lock Haven, Pa., location. The Masters Boulevard packaging and print facilities produce printed rolls used to package the company’s tissue products, as well as shrink film and compression bags, according to the website. Both Anderson facilities employ more than 800 people.