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Phila. benefits as SCA wipes up U.S. market

The North American division continues to grow in Philadelphia as SCA concentrates on the "away-from-home" market for toilet paper, paper towels and napkins.

Ikea may be the most recognizable Swedish company with its North American headquarters in the Philadelphia area, but it's not the only one.

SCA North America has its corporate headquarters at the Cira Centre near 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.

On Monday, the company announced enough promotions to the top leadership of its SCA Tissue Division to spur me to learn more about this billion-dollar company operating here.

Especially because it makes a product near and dear to Philadelphians: toilet paper. (Scott Paper made the first roll of toilet paper here in 1890.)

SCA North America is a division of Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, a $16.9 billion paper company, based in Stockholm. Its biggest product lines are toilet paper, paper towels and napkins that carry the name Tork.

Don't look for them in the grocery store. They're used in the commercial kitchens and restrooms of restaurants, schools and other workplaces — what the industry calls the "away-from-home" segment.

Today, SCA North America employs 136 people in West Philadelphia offices that reflect its corporate mantra of being as environmentally conscious as a company can be when its end-products are made of paper. It says that it turns more than 700,000 tons of recycled paper into consumer products each year.

SCA bought into the U.S. market when the two biggest paper tigers - Georgia-Pacific and Kimberly-Clark - were forced to sell operations for antitrust reasons. Its total employment in North America is 5,100, with big factories in Wisconsin and upstate New York.

Employment locally has more than doubled since it first opened offices in Eddystone in 2001. Under new president Don Lewis, SCA Tissue last fall reflagged a bunch of regional brands, like Coronet, under its global Tork brand.

It's enough to make me wonder what they use in the executive washroom at Ikea's Conshohocken headquarters.