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Baitler jay staples easy riderOP legend Baitler
back on TOPS

Ex-SPLS leader returns to
help convert papermakers
into hygiene growth mkts

Private Equity firm Atlas Holdings hired OP legend Jay Baitler 8yrs ago to help direct & develop, under-invested legacy paper makers, into new use markets eg hygiene supplies. I first met 'Easy Rider' Jay back in the 80's at Summit (NYC) and followed his 18yrs success with Staples (B2B chief). We discuss progress and plans...




brown howard hitouchBackground 

The 80's with Summit, NYC with Howard Brown (pic right). We recall sales back then were a substantial $70m sales. The emerging consolidator back then was a Bruce Nelson led BT Office Products, that acquired Summit in 1987. When Corporate Express acquired BT in 1994, Baitler switched to Staples in 1995. Brown stayed with CEXP before leaving to start up dealer Allied OP. The Brown ceo/Baitler coo partnership was legendary for its strong customer relationships, direct approach, featuring dawn car convo commutes, between theduo discussing expansion opportunities 

1995 - 2013 with Ron Sargent as Staples Business Advantage chief. When Baitler joined Staples, superstore retail dominated its agenda. Sargent & Baitler's mission was to build the B2B division via acquisition and organic growth. Office Depot was the market leader back then and acquired the admired Viking to consolidate its position. Staples accelerated via acquisitions too inc. Quill, and by mid 2000s overtook the inept Depot with powerful organic growth & Staples.com webstore action, plus the acquisition of CEXP in 2008 taking sales to $27Bn. Later Depot would merge with Max to reach $24Bn. 

At the end of 2013 Baitler departed for PE firm Atlas, handing over the reins of SBA to prodigy Neil Ringel

Atlas Holdings

Joined Private Equity firm Atlas Holdings in 2013 as operating partner involved in some of the following investments:

Screen Shot 2021 01 05 at 1.21.47 AMIconex Solutions, Duluth, GA - Receipts & Labelmaker - CEO Craig Gunckel (pic left)

Iconex with the acquisition of the Interactive Printer Solutions (IPS) division of NCR Corporation.  Iconex invented the cash register receipt 130 years ago and continues to be the world’s largest manufacturer of quality receipt solutions. The transaction includes all dedicated assets and employees of NCR’s IPS division worldwide, other than in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. An additional technical closing for the MEA region is expected to occur in the third quarter of 2016, following satisfaction of regional closing conditions. With over 800 associates, Iconex operates 26 manufacturing facilities and distribution centers.

“Iconex is the premier provider of solutions that power commerce around the world,” said Andrew Bursky, Managing Partner at Atlas. “This transaction combines an iconic brand, known for its ‘best-in-class’ quality, innovation and customer service, with Atlas’ financial and human capital and proven ability to grow manufacturing and distribution businesses. We are very excited to welcome the Iconex team to the Atlas family.”

We understand Iconex is benefiting from Baitler's skills given its interest in the business supply market with receipts, labels and image solutions.. Progress has been relentless given its competitive edge with quality leadership, people and agility 

baron ron marcalMarcal Paper, Elmwood Park, NJ - Towels, Tissues maker - CEO Ron Baron (pic right) 

Atlas Holdings, acquired Elmwood Park, N.J. based Marcal Paper Mills in 2012, a tissue and paper products manufacturer and distributor, and renamed it Soundview Paper Co. Soundview continued the mill’s production of towel and tissue products for the at-home and away-from-home markets in North America.

Located 15 miles northwest of New York City, Soundview’s operations encompass more than 1 million sq ft of manufacturing and storage facilities on its 30-acre site. Operations include a manufacturing facility with fully integrated deinking, towel, tissue, napkin, and facial production and converting capabilities, as well as separate storage facilities for housing finished goods and parent rolls. According to a report by RISI, Brussels, Belgium, the mill plans to start using some purchased virgin pulp to make tissue paper, possibly for part of a private label business with Home Depot.

"We plan to focus on superior customer service and product excellence by building on the quality of our people, our equipment, our papermaking skills, and our core brand, Marcal," said George Wurtz, CEO of Soundview Paper Co. "Soundview's leadership team is comprised of industry veterans with unparalleled experience in the tissue business. With the strong focus and high standards of this team, Soundview is well-positioned to transform this business, better serving our customers." Wurtz’s paper industry background includes EVP at Georgia-Pacific.

"We are excited about the acquisition of Marcal by Soundview," said Tim Fazio, managing partner at Atlas Holdings. "Soundview fits well with our core investment strategy of investing in and revitalizing businesses that are critical to the markets they serve. The Soundview employees have unmatched tissue industry experience and are a welcome addition to the Atlas family.

marcal pre post fire"While there are certainly challenges inherent to running a successful manufacturing business in New Jersey, we believe New Jersey's pro-growth policies create an environment in which we can save and eventually grow this important business," Fazio added.

Atlas Holdings owns and operates more than 70 facilities with nearly 8,500 employees worldwide. Its businesses are engaged in a broad spectrum of industries, including pulp, paper, and tissue manufacturing, food and agriculture, wood products and building materials, packaging, capital equipment, and industrial and business services.

The 2019 Fire

Marcal Paper Mill, a North Jersey institution for 80 years, will restart operations in January 2020, nearly a year after the mill was decimated by a massive fire.

Rob Baron, ceo, said the paper mill will be "back in business" in January 2020, one year after 500 people lost their jobs due to the fire. The decision was made after assessing the site and merging with a Pennsylvania-based paper company, he said.

matt roberts TOPS  “The prospect of such an announcement seemed impossible 11 months ago, when a devastating fire eliminated 80 years of manufacturing history in less than eight hours," Baron said. The paper mill served as an icon of Elmwood Park for decades, employing several residents of the town, before a mammoth fire burned 16 acres of property in January.

The timing of the restoration involving Baitler, included investment in 'state of the art' machinery proved to be incredibly fortunate given the onset of Covid in March'20. Now the wheels of Marcal are spinning rapidly in the making of original brand and private label towels & tissues products. 

TOPS, Ampad, Penaflex, Quality Park brands under LSC Comms holding company - CEO Matt Roberts (pic right)

LSC Comms a spin off from the iconic RRDonnelley (Chicago) magazine, catalog & printing corporation in 2016 invested in traditional stationery baitler jay atlasbrands: TOPS, AmPad, Pendaflex & latterly envelope maker Quality Park. CEO Tom Quinlan continued to acquire, ignore & waste assets, allowing the businesses to sink. After a failed acquisition bid by Quad Graphics it fell from its NYSE position into bankruptcy.

Atlas under Baitler's guidance rescued LSC in Sep'20 and is now in the process of review with a development strategy underway embracing the skills of the management group including ceo Matt Roberts and ubiqitous OP veteran, the ex-Acco & GoJo Bill Cardone.

We expect a Baitler boost to these legacy brands and a transformation in conversion facilities towards growth markets in personal stationery, hygiene, packaging markets

Closing Remarks 

Baitler has been an iconic leader in the OP market for 35 years. He joined Summit after serving as a buyer with one of their larger customers. His direct and matter of fact style, plus an engaging jovial demeanour has made him a popular personality in the industry. Clearly, his track record of nurturing and mentoring talent will serve Atlas well in their expansion endeavours.

We expect much more Atlas true PE activity ahead as legacy businesses fade in the OP market, maybe many in need of the 'Baitler boost' to revitalise and transform the skills of neglected management and people. Watch this space....



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