Hammann leaving Halltown plant after 42 years

December 01, 1997

Hammann leaving Halltown plant after 42 years


Staff Writer, Charles Town

HALLTOWN, W.Va. - Conrad "Connie" Hammann walked at ease past beeping forklifts and whirling rolls of paper.

He watched as a worker moved large sheets of cardboard from a cutter. In an eight-hour shift, the machine will produce 40 tons of neatly trimmed cardboard paper.

One worker will lift an estimated 12 tons of paper by hand each shift, but despite turning 68 on Monday, the broad-shouldered Hammann looked like he could easily handle a shift at the machine.


For nearly 42 years, the Halltown Paperboard Co. plant has been like a second home to Hammann.

At the end of December, he will retire from the company, for which he has served as president since 1972.

Hammann said he will serve as a consultant next year to the company, but his days of running the plant are over.

"Connie has been a pillar of the recycled paperboard industry for decades. He has brought Halltown Paperboard through some extraordinary challenges," said Steve Gagnon, executive vice president for Republic Group Inc., which bought Halltown Paperboard in 1995.

"Without his dedication, the mill certainly would not have enjoyed the success it has today," Gagnon said.

Hammann expected to be drafted for the Korean War when he graduated from college with a chemical engineering degree, so he joined the U.S. Navy and went to officer candidate school.

He served for four years as an air intelligence officer on aircraft carriers until 1956, when he left the service and started working for Halltown Paperboard Co.

"At the time, I didn't know anything about the paper industry," Hammann said.

He ended up working in all of the departments: engineering, maintenance, production, sales and purchasing.

He also was active in the Jefferson County community. He was an officer of the old Charles Town-Ranson Board of Trade and in 1959, while acting president of the group, he helped reorganize it into the current Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Hammann also served on the Jefferson County Board of Education from 1968 to 1976.

"He's always been supportive of Jefferson County. I wish him well in his retirement," said Mary Via, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Hammann said he was named president of the company at a time when environmental regulations were becoming more strict. Since then, he's overseen improvements to the air filters and water system while keeping the company operating.

"There has been some real challenges," Hammann said.

The plant employs about 190 workers and operates around the clock, seven days a week.

When new residents to the Halltown area complain about an occasional odor from the plant, Hammann likes to remind them that it has been in operation since 1869.

Hammann said he plans to stay on his 82-acre farm just outside of Shepherdstown, though he and his wife will take some time to visit grandchildren.

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