The ‘toothpick factory’ returns to its roots in CloquetIn the early days of Cloquet, the wood products mill in the east end of Cloquet was variously known as “the match mill” or “the toothpick factory,” and it appears that the local plant is on track to return to its roots.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
In the early days of Cloquet, the wood products mill in the east end of Cloquet was variously known as “the match mill” or “the toothpick factory,” and it appears that the local plant is on track to return to its roots.
Rick Pomroy, plant manager for Jarden Home Brands’ Cloquet mill, confirmed this week that a portion of the company’s toothpick manufacturing business has returned to the local plant after being outsourced to China since 2006.
Company spokespeople would not confirm how long it has been since the toothpick manufacturing returned to Cloquet, or whether the enhanced operation will lead to additional job creation.
In an article that appeared in the Oct. 10 edition of Time magazine, distributed to subscribers this week, author Bill Saporito reported that the plant’s parent company, Jarden Corp. of Rye, N.Y., is at the forefront of a trend he referred to as “the rehab of American manufacturing.” He explained that while basic goods sold by companies such as Jarden have been produced cheaply in China for decades, wages in that country are beginning to skyrocket at the same time the costs of shipping have become wildly unpredictable.
According to the Time article, this year Jarden will “insource” some $100 million worth of goods to the Americas, about half of which will come to the United States – including the return of the manufacture of flat toothpicks to the Cloquet plant where it first began.
Toothpicks were once a big-time share of the market for Jarden’s Diamond Brands, whose roots in Cloquet grew out of the Berst-Forster-Dixfield Company. By the 1990s, as demand began to diminish, the local plant was one of the only toothpick factories remaining in the United States, turning out several billion per year up until the company’s decision to outsource their manufacture to China.
Jarden Home Brands’ Cloquet facility also manufactures matches and a number of other wood products.