It’s safe to say the owners of Mule-Hide Manufacturing, ABC Supply Co., Inc, understand the meaning of community. Mule-Hide runs the more than 100-year-old paper mill in Cornell, Wisconsin, the largest employer in town. Cornell is proud of its logging and paper mill past. When you cross the Chippewa River, the only surviving pulpwood stacker IN THE WORLD greets you. One of the founders of Western Union, Ezra Cornell, owned 500,000 acres of timberland in the area near a small town once called Brunet Falls. When Cornell died, he endowed the land to Cornell University. When the University sold the land to fund the endowment, the timber industry boom began in the Northwoods and Brunet Falls became Cornell.
Without that mill, Cornell’s key role in the history of Northwoods logging could disappear.
ABC Supply CO., Inc. bought the plant in the early 2000s to make sure the community survived, and the Cornell Mule Hide mill turned to creating felt roofing paper for the construction industry.
Mule-Hide began working with Focus on Energy since the program began 20 years ago. Understanding the scenic Northwoods environment surrounding them, Mule-Hide committed to their employees, the community of Cornell, and their customers, a pledge of sustainability and reduction of energy waste.
For the past 20 years, Mule-Hide has developed a steady flow of energy efficiency projects ranging from updating lighting to installing their 55,000 pound/hour boiler in 2014 with $200,000 in incentive assistance from Focus on Energy.
“Whenever Mule-Hide is adding equipment, they do it in the most energy efficient ways,” Focus on Energy Advisor for Mule-Hide Randy Urness said during the Energy Efficiency Excellence Award presentation.
In 2019 and 2020 with the assistance of Focus on Energy's Rural Industrial Bonus offering, Mule-Hide installed VFDs on pumps as well as high efficiency re-pulper rotors, completed compressed air projects, LED lighting projects, and insulation projects.
These projects will save them 1,459,000 kWh, 15,741 therms, and $111,300 annually.
“Your story is so powerful as we look across the whole state,” Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Office of Energy Innovation Director Joe Pater said. “Whatever we can do to amplify the success of just this location (in Cornell) will accelerate the transition to clean energy and efficiency through Wisconsin’s manufacturers.”
In 2020 Mule-Hide hosted a Focus on Energy Pop-Up Lighting Fair for their employees. The lighting fair was an opportunity to extend energy efficiency to the community while helping their employees save energy and money.
“Awards isn’t something we really work toward,” Mule-Hide General Manager Sheri Scheidler said. “We work toward keeping jobs in a small community and providing good employment. Our owners (ABC Supply CO., Inc.) see value in this community and energy savings. They know and we know Focus on Energy isn’t just fluff. How many projects would we have not been able to do without the incentive from Focus on Energy? For many businesses that (the incentive) could be the one thing pushing them to invest in that energy project.”
Xcel Energy (Northern States Power)