Mohawk was founded in 1931 in upstate New York, where the Hudson and Mohawk rivers come together. Here generations of papermakers honed their craft on fine papers for letterpress printers in the northeastern US. The company was started when George O’Connor acquired the Frank Gilbert Paper Company at the beginning of the Great Depression. From this modest origin, Mohawk has grown through careful management and investment over three generations of the O’Connor family, and today the company is a thriving business with a global presence and expanding markets.
Over the past 80 years, the company has evolved with an evolving industry. In the 1940s when printing shifted from letterpress to offset, Mohawk developed archival Mohawk Superfine, the world’s standard for premium uncoated printing paper. During the 1950s and 1960s, the company grew to become a major player in the advertising and print markets around New York, Boston, and Washington, DC.
In 1972, Thomas D. O’Connor, son of George O’Connor, invested in retooling and modernizing the company. Thus began a series of innovations that include Mohawk’s patented Inxwell papers, Navajo and Options; Mohawk 50/10, the first coated paper made with postconsumer fiber; and a new breed of papers engineered for digital color production presses such as the HP Indigo, Kodak NexPress, and Xerox iGen3.
In 2003, in support of our long-standing commitment to environmental sustainability, Mohawk became the only paper mill and one of the first large-scale production facilities in the United States to offset emissions from electric power generation with the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) issued by wind farms. This commitment to windpower is part of a series of voluntary efforts over time that also include reducing natural gas and electrical consumption, capping air emissions, reducing water usage by almost half, and converting our fleet of trucks to a biodiesel fuel mix.
In 2005, Mohawk began to expand its premium paper operations with the acquisition of the Strathmore and Beckett brands from International Paper Company. This move was complemented by the subsequent acquisition of the SMART Papers brands in 2009 and the company’s decision to begin converting and distributing its own envelopes. In 2011, the company made another significant move, acquiring Bravo Solutions, a leading supplier of specialty synthetic and paper substrates for digital printing. After a process of consolidation and redesign, Mohawk now offers a diverse palette of highly regarded paper brands and specialty substrates that are perfectly adapted for today’s designer and printer.
In 2009, Mohawk opened a warehouse in Amsterdam, NL, reflecting the company’s growing international commitment, which includes sales offices in Asia, Europe, and Latin America. At the same time, Mohawk increased its presence in the online world with the launch of mohawkpaperstore.com, feltandwire.com, and feltandwireshop.com. This effort continued with the creation of pinholepress.com and pinholepro.com in 2010 and our mohawkconnects.com flagship site in 2012.
Today, the third generation of the O’Connor family is guiding Mohawk, honoring its rich history while looking ahead to the future. With CEO Tom O’Connor, Jr. at the helm, the company has embraced the process of reinvention as it faces a radically changing market. While the company still manufactures premium papers on three paper machines in upstate New York, Mohawk is driving to be an essential supplier of non-paper substrates with the acquisition of Bravo Solutions, Inc., and to create new platforms that demonstrate the power of print and connect designers and printers to new markets.