Voices of the mill: Cecil Baldwin, 92, of Everett

  • Fri Mar 23rd, 2012 2:20pm
  • News

By Debra Smith Herald Writer

In this series, we’re telling the stories of what the Kimberly-Clark mill closure means for workers and for Everett, which has been defined by mills for more than a century.

Cecil Baldwin started work for the Scott Paper Co. as a chemist. In the early 1950s, he came to Everett to help the company merge with the Soundview Pulp Mill.

It was a new business strategy for the combined company: control every step of the process.

Scott Paper owned its own timberlands where it logged trees. Those were turned into pulp that was sold in bundles or turned into the paper that became paper towels and toilet tissue.

“It worked terrifically,” Baldwin said.

At the time of the merger — well before Boeing’s arrival — Soundview was one of the biggest employers in the area and there were still half a dozen mills on Everett’s waterfront.

Baldwin spent his working career in Everett in supervisory positions.

He worked supervising lab technicians that worked with the chemicals that made wet paper towels more absorbent. Later, he worked in the company’s environmental department. His work included finding ways to reduce the massive amount of water used in pulp and paper making.

Even though he was considered “a company man,” he remembers having a good working relationship with his employees, who belonged to a strong union.

The people he worked with were the best. He called them crackerjack.

Even though he’s long retired, he has strong feelings about the closure.

“It still bugs me that Kimberly Clark would sell,” he said.

It also bugs him that a single company would get tasked with cleaning up any environmental damage caused by decades of mill operations. Everyone in the area benefited from the mills and everyone should be responsible, he said.

The mills helped build Everett by providing millions of dollars in taxes to the city and wages for decades of employees, who turned around and spent those paychecks at area businesses.

For that reason, “I, as a citizen, owe as much to cleaning it up as the company does.”

He added: “The company was the lifeblood of the western part of the county. The whole population was subsidized by that company.”