M&A professionals often tout the importance of strategy in turning around or growing a business. But the effects of strategy are notoriously hard to isolate, as it rarely operates alone. A recent turnaround engineered by Watermill Group, however, provides a rare opportunity to examine the power that the right business strategy can have on a distressed company.

In November 2009, Watermill acquired Madison Paper Co.’s mill in Alsip, Illinois, near Chicago. By most traditional measures, the Alsip paper mill did not look like a sound investment.

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