LYNN – The coronavirus has devastated many businesses, but it turns out that a factory manufacturing toilet paper isn’t one of them. Since Lynn resident and Swampscott native Marc Cooper opened up the Tissue Plus manufacturing company in Bangor, Maine earlier this month, demand has been off the charts.
The factory operates 18 hours a day, producing roughly 60 rolls a minute, and it’s not even at capacity yet. Cooper has already hired 20 workers, and interviewed eight more last week. “We’re obviously very grateful to be in a position of getting started when demand is so high,” said Cooper, who bought an empty building in Maine last June and spent months transforming it into a functioning paper goods manufacturer. “We also feel fortunate that we have a business that can continue to thrive in a difficult time and make a contribution to the community.”
Even though the coronavirus has increased demand (though Cooper and other experts are still at a loss to explain exactly why so many people have started stockpiling it), it has also introduced new complications. “It adds another level of complexity, and we’ve implemented some pretty stringent safety and health policies,” said Cooper. “We limit who we let into the factory … we try to limit the number of people in a small area to two or three max, enforcing social distancing to the extent it’s possible.”
Cooper has a long history as a paper entrepreneur. For over 20 years, he owned the Beverly-based Fiber Resources Group, a full service secondary fiber and job lot paper brokerage company that bought, sold, and converted paper and pulp for a wide range of purposes. He also invested in paper mills and invented a paper-converting machine. In 2010, he started Imagination Brands, a children’s toy company that became well-known for the Doodle Roll, a dispenser of up to 30 feet of rolled paper with crayons included that make it easy for children to draw.
Cooper wanted to start this newest venture, which produces a range of paper products from napkins to paper towels to tissues, to create a sustainable way of producing products people would always need. “I wanted to set up a company that had some continuity that wasn’t so inconsistent in terms of buying and selling,” he said. To keep up with the huge spike in demand and the need to stay at home, Tissue Plus is offering a year’s subscription of 48 rolls of 2-ply 500 sheet toilet paper delivered monthly for a total of $999 plus shipping. They are also donating rolls to local homeless shelters and charities.
Even though Tissue Plus is a Maine operation – it helps to manufacture paper in a heavily forested state – Cooper’s North Shore Jewish roots run deep. He grew up in Swampscott and is the son of Neil Cooper, who led the former Jewish Federation of the North Shore and he was also involved with Combined Jewish Philanthropies and United Jewish Appeal. His mother is Deanna Cooper. Cooper sent his three children Dylann, Morgan, and Jake to the Epstein Hillel School in Marblehead.