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Employees finishing work at Calexico Tissue plant

January 30, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Ken Schwenk of Hauppauge, N.Y.'s American Tissue Inc. said there are no plans to ramp up production at the Portico Boulevard Calexico Tissue Co. plant here despite rumors that some laid-off employees were recently called back to work.

Schwenk said the handful of employees working at the plant are just there to convert leftover bulk paper rolls into napkins and hand towels. Once those bulk rolls have been processed, the remaining few employees could be let go.

There have been no recent shipments of bulk paper rolls to the Calexico plant.

Calexico Tissue's full-production facilities were shuttered Dec. 7. Since then, a skeleton crew has answered the phones and worked to process the bulk rolls left from the plant's salad days.

Schwenk said there is still a possibility the plant could reopen sometime this year but no announcement is imminent.

At 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Calexico Tissue plant manager Javid Nassir said he could not take a phone call because he was eating. Late, a call to his cell phone went to his voice mail. Earlier Tuesday he said he was on the "other line."

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American Tissue and a number of its subsidiaries, including Calexico Tissue Co., filed for Chapter 11 protection Sept. 10.

Since then, the company CEO was told to resign and turn over the reins to Chicago-based restructuring specialists.

After resigning, the former CEO, Mehdi Gabayzadeh, started working at a company called American Paper Inc.

Using money made during his time with American Tissue, Gabayzadeh began buying former subsidiaries of American Tissue and hiring his former employees.

In late October papers filed in the federal bankruptcy court in Delaware accused Gabayzadeh of scheming to "steal" American Tissue employees and property to solicit American Tissue customers for the benefit of nondebtor properties he owns and controls, according to the Union Leader newspaper of Manchester, N.H.

If those accusations are on target communities such as Calexico are being forced to wait for payment on loans given to Gabayzadeh's former company while his current company buys the discounted mills and paper plants of American Tissue.

Calexico officials have said Calexico Tissue Co. owed the city more than $300,000 at the time of American Tissue's bankruptcy filing. Schwenk said Calexico will not be repaid until American Tissue's finances have been shored up.

He said that process will take a long time as Kugman and Associates deals with liens against physical American Tissue assets and past due loan payments, such as the Calexico debt.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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