Originally published on Page A1 of the York Daily Record/Sunday News on Wednesday, December 21, 2011.
By LAUREN BOYER
Daily Record/Sunday News
You’ve penned the thoughtful messages, stuck the stamps and sealed envelopes until your tongue throbbed with papercuts.
But before you lighten your load on the U.S. Postal Service, take a deeper look:
Those heartfelt holiday greetings — and the envelopes they’re sealed in — may have started as trunks of U.S. grown trees broken down into millions of pulp fibers, bound together and rolled out the door in massive reams at one of Glatfelter’s mills in Spring Grove or Ohio.
For the past decade, the York County manufacturer has been a primary supplier of paper for Hallmark, a $4.1 billion company with products in more than 40,000 stores nationwide.
On its website, the Kansas City, Mo.-based greeting card maker names Christmas as the largest card-sending holiday, with Americans sending 1.5 billion annually.
For Hallmark — and Cleveland, Ohio-based American Greetings — the magic often starts with a batch of thicker quality paper, whipped up by Glatfelter’s engineered products business division.
Demand for this material increases “modestly” just before the holiday season, said Glatfelter spokesman Bill Yanavitch.
In fact, so does the need for “those beautiful Christmas postage stamps,” which are, at their roots, a Glatfelter product, he added.
“People certainly send messages electronically,” he added, “but there’s something different — when it’s tangible and you can touch it — that people relate to.”
It’s a remnant of the past in an era where an email increasingly does the job of a handwritten note and Americans turn to electronic means for reading newspapers and books.
In fact, Glatfelter expects sales of its book publishing paper to decrease at an annual rate of 3 to 5 percent, due to the iPad and related technologies, CEO Dante Parrini said during a third quarter earnings conference call this year.
Meanwhile, the greeting card business remains “very stable,” Yanavitch said.
“When you think about Christmas and gifts and gift-giving, that feeling a person experiences and the joy of opening up and wondering what’s inside in terms of the words and the messages,” he said. “It creates a special feeling for people.”