James Loder was facing a major business challenge.
Director of energy management for York-based Glatfelter, the international paper firm, he had to decide how to upgrade operations at Glatfelter’s mill in Spring Grove to meet current and anticipated environmental regulations.
And natural gas “gave us a viable option,” Loder told about 30 energy, manufacturing and other business officials at a forum early Thursday near York.
After spending $94 million at Spring Grove and at an Ohio Glatfelter plant, natural gas “gave us an opportunity to keep the plants viable, keep the risks down and keep us viable for the next 150 years,” he said.
Loder was a panelist at a manufacturing forum Thursday at Homewood Suites by Hilton.
The forum, “How Has the Manufacturing Industry in York County Benefited From the Natural Gas Industry?” was led by the Keystone Energy Forum, an organization that seeks to increase awareness of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas industry, and attracted a range of York-area business and industry officials.
Find out who the decision-makers are
Glatfelter spent $63 million of the $94 million at Spring Grove, in order to build two new natural-gas boilers, a new building to house the boilers a new water system and natural-gas connector and other additions, Loder said. Some 850 people work at the Spring Grove plant, he added.
Another speaker, Ben Lawrence, is an official at KCF Technologies in State College, which, thanks to acoustics and vibration equipment it makes for the natural-gas industry, has gone from near bankruptcy to booming success, Lawrence said.
The forum also was jointly sponsored by the York-based Manufacturers’ Association, MANTEC, the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce and the York County Economic Alliance.
Lawrence urged businesses aiming to get involved in the industry to find out where the decision-makers are — even visiting these guys in the field — anything you can do to earn a little bit of face time with the people who are getting their hands dirty in this industry, every day, to understand what their problems are.
“When we approached some of these companies and asked, what are your problems and what can we do to make your job better,” it made all the difference, he added.
Asking those questions gave them “a tremendous amount of insight,” Lawrence also said.
Thursday’s forum was another in a series of statewide “educational and outreach” sessions by the Keystone Energy Forum, which aims to eventually hold such events in all 67 counties in the state, said Rod Wilt, organizational field director.