About Us


A History of Adaptability and Innovation

The Early Origins of Appleton

We trace our origin to the Webster Planing Mill, a woodworking firm operating in Appleton, WI in 1881. Over the next 40 years, Webster expanded from wooden pallets and chopping blocks to a wider product line that included spear poles and paddles for the paper industry that was growing rapidly in central Wisconsin. Shortly after World War I, the company purchased Mac-Tube located in Michigan City, IN, thereby becoming a producer of fiber tubes and cores. Wood products were still being produced for the paper industry. That portion of the business now included dewatering surfaces for the paper mills.


Ted Holzem, Orville Gitter and the Holzem Core Cutter

In 1948, Ted Holzem purchased the company. Ted and Orville Gitter then developed the “Holzem” core cutter. Orville patented the cutter under Patent US002521004. Holzem and Gitter’s designs are the basis on which today’s internal drive mandrels are built. The patents have long expired and competitors have honored Ted and Orville by cloning their concepts. By the end of 1950, Appleton had two models of core cutters in the market. The tragic death of Ted in a plane accident led to Orville becoming the acting President. Orville’s untimely death a few years later lead to the sale of Appleton to John Strange Paper Company in about 1952. The purchase was a logical one in that the paper company was a major supplier of the kraft paper used to make cores. (John Strange was partially owned by Menasha Corporation.)


John Strange Paper Co. and New Core Cutters

Product introductions continued under John Strange’s ownership. Six new models of cutters were introduced in the period ending about 1968. These machines improved on Holzem’s original designs, making the cutters more flexible and better suited to customer needs. It’s also important to note that throughout its history, the machine building department also served as the maintenance department for the core manufacturing departments. This created a strong understanding of the need to keep the core making equipment running. This understanding became part of our culture and is evident today in our sense of urgency and “can do” attitude when a customer needs assistance. We are still supporting equipment built in the early’50s; servicing and reconditioning equipment more than 60 years old, returning them to top notch daily production. A tribute to the durability and longevity of Appleton’s equipment and Service Technicians who support it.


The Menasha Corporation Years

Around 1969, Menasha Corporation bought out their partners, taking full ownership of Appleton Manufacturing. By now, demonstrating a pattern of continued innovation, Appleton was machining ultra high molecular weight polyethylene plastics, replacing the wooden dewatering surfaces they had made for the paper industry. Appleton added a line of showers for cleaning the wires and forming fabrics used on the paper machines. The firm also continued to make cores and core cutters. Two more core cutters were developed in the period that preceded Menasha’s 1981 sale of the John Strange mill to US Papers. Around 2002, US Papers was sold to Sonoco. Though the mill was sold, Menasha Corporation retained ownership of the Appleton Mfg. Division—the machine building and the core manufacturing plant. The core making operations were subsequently sold to Sonoco in 1985.

In the mid-80’s, Appleton Mfg. Division updated its line of core cutters to meet changing customer needs:

  • four new models were introduced to better meet the emerging needs of the customers

  • automated parent and cut core handling equipment was added to increase customer productivity

  • new safety standards were adopted

  • complete core processing systems were introduced

  • dual mandrel core cutters were conceptualized but discarded due to safety, reliability and maintenance concerns

Appleton joins the Double E Group

Today, as a member of the Double E Group, Appleton is a fully integrated engineering, design, sales, service and manufacturing firm producing custom and semi-custom material handling solutions and remains committed to its heritage of innovation and customer service.

This heritage, coupled with high-quality products and outstanding product support, are the very reasons why every day there are more Appleton machines cutting cores throughout the world than any other manufacturer.

Visit our product pages for the latest on new developments. If you have a need for core cutting and handling equipment, showering or material handling that we don’t offer, or if you have a converting challenge that requires specialized machinery, send us an e-mail describing your application and we will work with you to meet that need. When you work with Appleton, you are working with a fully-integrated engineering - design - sales - service and manufacturing company that is responsive to your needs.