The Hammermill Paper Company was founded in 1898 by the three Behrend brothers – Ernst, Otto and Bernard — as the Ernst R. Behrend Company, and that same year, construction began at the paper mill in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Prior to the construction being completed, Behrend changed the name of the company to Hammermill, to reflect the Germany paper company owned and operated by his father Mortiz Behrend. The German mill had been built on the site of a water wheel drop forge used to rework scrap wrought iron and locals referred to the original site as ‘the hammer’ due to its thundering noise, and thus Hammermill.
Ernst served as President and Otto as Secretary, while Bernard left the family business to strike out as a mechanical engineer.
Hammermill was the first all-sulphite process paper mill in the United States and later patented a device to provide watermarks without tearing the paper during the then-more speedy process of production. Hammermill was also a pioneer in laboratory testing and control of paper and was the first to employ the use of sales agents to peddle paper across the United States.
The company grew to be one of the region’s largest employers for just short of 100 years when it was purchased by the International Paper Company in 1984 for $1.1 billion.
The Erie plant was shuttered in May of 2002 after years of downsizing and lay-offs, ultimately forcing 1000s out of jobs.
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