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The Champion company store operated from 1917-1934


Tokens were commonly used for purchases at the company store in the 1920's and 1930's.

The Champion Coated Paper Company

After the water receded, Logan Thomson joined more than 1,000 paid Champion employees in a massive cleanup, removing mud and debris and salvaging machinery and paper to make way for a new complex. Within three months, the rebuilt mill was in full operation.

Peter G. Thomson was a far-sighted and fair employer of his time. His mills frequently employed several generations of the same family. He had family members working in key positions for the company, but they all started at the bottom and earned their way upward. From its earliest years, Champion welcomed Appalachians, many of who were moving to industrialized areas seeking steady work. Thomson said they tended to be loyal, adaptable, hard working and ingenious at fixing machinery.

Thomson was regarded as an innovator in papermaking and employee relations. His workers were able to save at an in-plant company store from 1917 to 1934, and had group insurance coverage for themselves and dependents after 1917. He provided a full-time industrial physician after 1916, added an advertising department in 1924 and built a research facility in 1926. Thomson -- whose philanthropy and civic leadership aided all Hamiltonians -- directed the mill and the company until his death July 10, 1931.

Peter’s oldest son, Alexander, became president of Champion paper following Peter’s death in 1931. In 1935, Logan became president of the Champion Paper & Fibre Company, and held that post until his death Aug. 6, 1946.

In the 1930s, when the Great Depression idled many local factories, production at the B Street mill shifted to plain grades of paper that were in demand and a "work-for-all” policy was implemented. Instead of devastating layoffs, most of Champion's 4,000 or more coaters, millwrights, pipefitters, sorters and other employees worked five or six days a week, a one or two-day reduction from the boom years of the 1920s. When the U. S. entered World War II in 1941, the demand for paper soared. The private sector, the government and the military needed paper for everything from patriotic posters, ration stamps and war bonds to maps -- and, of course, thousands of applications, forms and required records.

Through WW II, Champion remained the largest coated paper manufacturer plant in the U.S. But changes in the industry and competition would cause vast changes for the Company in coming years.

To align production and contain costs, about one third of the production work force was laid off in 1961. To remain competitive, Champion Papers Inc. merged in 1967 with U. S. Plywood Corp. to form U. S. Plywood-Champion Papers Inc., with a combined total 31,000 employees and 130 manufacturing operations, headquartered in New York City.

In 1972 shareholders approved changing the company name from U. S. Plywood-Champion Papers Inc. to Champion International Corp. As Champion International observed the 100th anniversary of its Hamilton founding in April 1994, employment at the B Street mill was reported as about 1,500 people. Three and a half years later, in October 1997, Champion International announced its intention to sell the Hamilton mill as part of a corporate restructuring.

Champion Paper ceased to exist as an entity in 2000 when International Paper acquired all of Champion International assets for about $7.3 billion. On June 21 2000, International assumed ownership and direction of the B Street mill which then had 800 employees. The mill was later sold to an investment group in 2001 and is still operating on a smaller scale.