To find something Special sometimes you have to look under every Rock

My dad used to tell me that if you really want to find something special sometimes you have to look under every Rock.

On June 22, 2016 I had the pleasure to visit a location of a 75 Year TAPPI Sustaining Member Company. That company is WestRock and that location was the Aurora, IL Paperboard Facility.

Jeff Barnhart and Matt Rice July 7 2016Jeff Barnhart-Manager, Sales and Business Development, Matthew Rice-Process Engineer

Jeff Barnhart hosted me for the visit and Matt Rice doubled as my tour guide. Talk about 6 degrees of separation, I had met Matt a few years back through TAPPI when he was with a supplier to our industry.

I actually introduced Jeff to our industry back in the early 90’s with Republic Paperboard.

And if that is not enough, Ed Curtis-VP & General Manger is a fellow Tennessean. After talking with Ed we discovered a kinship in the love of the mountains of Tennessee.

In operation since 1909, the Aurora mill sets the standard in Binder boards for the hard back book industry with its 100% Recycled Red Label product. In addition, the Aurora facility features a converting operation where large book board sheets are cut to size for bookmakers.  The Aurora facility also manufactures protective cornerposts and slip sheets. 

The hard back book business is alive and well in the Chicago Land area and these folks have what it takes to make some of the flattest recycled board that I have ever seen. And oh by the way, they do not paste board together to make thicker sheets. Single ply sheets come off the paper machine in calipers up to .250, that other recycled mills in North America cannot match without pasting board together.

Ed Curtis July 7 2016 

Ed Curtis - VP & General Manager, Aurora Paperboard

Ed has put together a great team here. Folks seemed genuinely happy, enthusiastic and customer focused. I was very excited about touring this facility to learn about an area of our industry that really is a niche market. Here are a few of the points that I learned on this visit:

  • The Aurora Mill has been in operation since 1909 and produces 32,000 TPY of 100% recycled Red Label Book Board
  • The mill has a fourdrinier machine, which utilizes a wet lap papermaking process
  • Book Board Caliper ranges of 70-250 point
  • Red Label book board meets or exceeds all specifications established by the National Association of State Textbook Administrators, (NASTA) and the Library Binding Institute, (LBI).

Inside banner                                Book Cover Board                                Corner Board July 7 2016


     My thanks to Ed, Jeff, Matt and the rest of the WestRock team in Aurora for their time and hospitality during my visit.

    For more information on WestRock Aurora contact Jeff Barnhart-

    For more information on TAPPI go to

    Remember there are two types of people in our industry, TAPPI members and those who should be.

    Until next time………………….Larry

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