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Travels with Larry Archive

An Open Letter from Larry N. Montague

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Hello everyone, We are just about to come to the end of another calendar year and the beginning of a new decade. TAPPI will celebrate its 100TH anniversary this decade in 2015.

I am proud of our members, board of directors, contractors, and our collaborative partners with other associations and our staff. TAPPI just completed our fiscal year in the black for the third year in a row. We picked up more than 1,000 new members this past year and have had ever increasing attendance numbers at our events and training courses. Our TAPPI Press products are enjoying increased sales in many categories as well.

Next month, January 14 - 17, we will hold our 14th Student Summit in Kingsport, Tenn., USA. Domtar will be our host this year. We are experiencing a record number of sponsorships from companies who are willing to make job offers to students from paper engineering programs.

The industry net earning's summary, reported by PricewaterhouseCoopers, shows that both the 10 largest European-based and U.S. based forest and paper companies reported significant growth in net earnings in the third quarter of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009. We are not out of the woods yet (no pun intended); however, we are seeing signs of improvement.

TAPPI is ever evolving to add more value to our members and the industry. We continue our efforts in the areas of pulp and paper while spreading our wings into many areas in the world of packaging, such as corrugated, folding carton, and flexible packaging. We are also heavily involved in nanotechnology, biomass, biofuels, sustainability, nonwovens, tissue, specialty papers, and printed electronics. Our ambition is to expand in the areas of consulting, industry management, safety, human resources, and managing other associations in the next few years.

During recent times our industry has experienced a major "sea change" in ownership of companies, raw material supplies, international competition, and non-traditional competition from the world of electronics. Things such as electronic readers, on-line news, e-banking, e-tickets, etc., have changed the way we conduct business. Our industry has even been attacked during church services. I was singing away at a church service recently when I realized that I was reading the music on a screen from a company named The Paperless Hymnal.

I have been in this industry for 30 years now and somehow, someway, the human spirit seems to rise to the occasion by continually reinventing itself not only to survive, but to thrive. I remember the edited words of a CEO I reported to in years past—"This ain't a job for the weak of heart." He was correct; however, I wouldn't want it any other way.

I love this industry and the families who work in it every day. We are great stewards of our natural resources. In the U.S. our industry is among the top 10 employers in 40 states. For every tree harvested in managed forests we plant three to four in its place. Our industry counts for 6% - 9% of the GDP. We provide jobs for rural America and rural areas around the world.

To the naysayers, let me know how it all works out for you when the battery runs out or the power goes off, or how important this industry really is to you personally when it's time to blow your nose or visit the restroom. I would also like you to reflect on how difficult it would be for you to exist without paper and packaging in your everyday lives. From the clothes that we wear to the toothpaste we use, to the roof over our heads, we have paper and packaging to thank for bringing these items to us in a clean, efficient, recyclable manner. We can coexist with new technologies. We always have.

Thanks for listening. Now go spread the positive word about your industry.

Larry N. Montague
President and CEO



Naylor, LLC