Making a Difference


At the end of each year, the Paper360° team likes to remind readers why the industries served by our publication are truly special. While our companies and products contribute to global commerce, health, energy, technology, education, home environments, and more, it’s our people who truly make us proud. Here are a few examples.

Wake Up and Dream

Diane, John, and Mary Ellen Grover.

When you wake up to a cup of Dreamers Coffee, you’re doing more than enjoying a delicious java jolt: you’re supporting an organization that helps raise awareness about the need for increased employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. The dream began 11 years ago when John and Diane Grover moved their family to Georgetown, SC, where John had a new post as mill manager at the International Paper mill.

When I showed up for my first day, the mill happened to be in an outage. There were about 1,200 contractors in the place, and I didn’t know who was IP and who was a contractor—you know how chaotic outages can be! The day I became mill manager, we closed on the house,” says John.

John had been on the job for only 10 days when Diane gave birth to their fifth child—their daughter Mary Ellen—and the Grovers learned that the baby had Down Syndrome. “Our next challenge was that we were told Mary Ellen was born with a hole in her heart, which is typical for children with Down Syndrome, and she needed open heart surgery,” John recalls.

Although the Grovers had barely arrived and knew no one in South Carolina, they were overwhelmed with support from the IP Georgetown community. The union president even came to the hospital when, at only six months old, Mary Ellen had her successful surgery. “We were getting support, and meals, and I had team members helping from every facet of the mill,” John says. “The mill did a charitable golf tournament every year, and they came to us and said that they wanted to do it for Down Syndrome.”

Over the next two years, the mill’s golf tournament raised more than US$50,000 for families affected by Down Syndrome. Working with Sharon Hughes, another Georgetown mill mom who also had a child with DS, Diane helped found a nonprofit group called the Grand Strand Down Syndrome Society. The Grovers moved to Memphis when Mary Ellen was two; in 2008, Diane founded the International Down Syndrome Coalition, an all-volunteer nationwide advocacy group. Diane devoted herself to volunteering until Mary Ellen was about nine years old. “I stepped away from advocacy work for a year,” she explains. “I told John, ‘I’m not doing anything unless it lands in my lap.’ Then Dreamers Coffee landed in my lap.”

While creating gift baskets to raise money for the Down Syndrome Association of Memphis, Diane met with local coffee roaster John Pitman of J. Brooks. “Their coffee is absolutely amazing, so I asked John if he was interested in donating coffee for the baskets. One thing led to another, and we began talking about a coffee blend that could be my very own—one that I could sell to raise awareness about the low employment numbers for individuals with a disability. This blend could perhaps help me to employ individuals of all abilities,” says Diane. “Dreamers Coffee was born!”

The online company sells the premium, fair-trade coffee and other items through virtual storefronts run by representatives of all abilities who Diane calls “Dreamers.” The company now has 33 stores online selling nationwide. They also operate a small retail operation inside Vantage Point Golf Center in Cordova, TN, a suburb of Memphis.

Says John, “I was a mill manager for International Paper in two locations, and I’ve worked in four mills for IP. The company creates a culture and community where people take care of each other. The way the Georgetown mill supported me—how they were there for my family in those tough times, how everyone worked together to help run the mill—that touched our souls.”

The Grovers hope that Mary Ellen, now 11, will someday run Dreamers. Says Diane, “She talks about coffee every day! At her learning center, I tell them, ‘no pressure, but just so you know, you’re preparing the next CEO of Dreamers Coffee.’”

To learn more, visit

From Stone Age to Modern Days

Danny Herron, Domtar Kingsport.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year (see related story on page 22), Domtar’s Kingsport, TN, mill inspires a rare type of loyalty in its employees. There are 20 with more than 50 years of experience. One of them is Danny Herron, who has been with Kingsport for 53 years—more than half of the mill’s long history.

Herron started with Mead in 1963 in the labor pool and worked on the old paper machines and the old pulp machine before coming to maintenance in 1981. He is now a maintenance planner/supervisor. The only member of his family to work in the mill, Herron says he has seen three major changes since he started:

A big increase in safety awareness. “It has come 1,000 percent from where it was.”

The focus on safety has been matched by the focus on the environment.

Perhaps most important, there has been a much-increased awareness/interest in the way workers care for each other; this extends to the company. “The administration cares for every individual more, in and out of work. There is better communication. My boss comes into my office every day.”

It may be difficult putting it into words, but Herron says there is an “at home” feeling within the mill. He also points out that Kingsport is now a modern mill, not a 100-year-old one. “When I started here, we still had a team of mules in the woodyard. They had been retired, but still lived there. We have progressed from the Stone Age to modern days. In the old woodyard, we used to unload the boxcars by heaving the logs over our shoulders and throwing them into the yard.”

In maintenance, Herron has also worked through numerous changes. “We used to have to piece stuff together to get it to run. Now, we need to fix things properly to have them run perfectly with less energy.”

— by Graeme Rodden

Carrying on a Legacy

Jeff Siegel and his daughter
Jaclyn Siegel Epstein.

Daniel Siegel

At Mica Corporation, three generations of the Siegel family represent a past, present, and future of industry achievement and TAPPI involvement. Mica’s legacy began with founder Daniel Siegel and continued with his sons, Jeff and Andrew Siegel, when they were elected as president and vice president almost 15 years ago. In February, as Mica celebrated 45 years in business, Jeff’s daughter, Jaclyn, joined the team, marking the third generation of Siegels at both Mica and TAPPI.

My dad was a participant in TAPPI meetings going back to when they were held in New York City,” says Jeff . “Dan won the Division Technical Award from the PLC Division (now TAPPI’s PLACE Division) in about 1985 or 1986.”

As chairman of Mica Corporation, Dan was a true innovator, says Jeff, who now serves as company president and recently celebrated his 30th year with the company. “When founding Mica in 1971, my dad helped create the niche we still serve: water-based primers for extrusion coating. The success of Mica Corporation in the first 15 years definitely made me think about following in his footsteps, but it wasn’t until I had already established myself in the finance world that I made the move ‘home’ to Mica. Similarly, Jaclyn had a six-year successful career at General Electric before bringing her talents to Mica.” Jaclyn Siegel Epstein is now strategic projects manager at Mica.

Invigning av Södras massabruk i Värö. Fr.v. Jonas Eriksson, Platschef Södra Cell Värö, H.M. Konung Carl XVI Gustaf, Lars Idermark,
Koncernchef i Södra. ENG: Inauguration of Södra Cell Värö. From the left: Jonas Eriksson, Mill manager, Södra Cell Värö, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf, Lars Idermark, CEO of Södra.

Jeff also followed his father’s lead by becoming active in TAPPI. When he joined in 1987, he immediately became the secretary to the Extrusion Coating Committee, and a few years later became chair of that committee. After volunteering on several TAPPI committees and councils, Jeff joined the TAPPI board and served as its chairman in 2009. “When my daughter Jaclyn joined Mica, it was sort of a no-brainer that she would get involved with TAPPI,” Jeff says. “She attended her first PLACE conference this spring, and recently attended the extrusion short course.”

When Dan passed away in 2010, Mica Corporation and the Siegel family established The Daniel Siegel Memorial Scholarship to honor his memory. TAPPI presents the scholarship, which is awarded every two years to qualified undergraduate candidates in flexible packaging programs, at the annual PLACE Conference.

TAPPI has been around for more than 100 years. The Siegel family’s involvement goes back about half that. TAPPI has been an incredible boost to Mica Corporation and to me personally,” says Jeff. “It has been a platform for us to showcase technical achievements and has helped us nurture and grow relationships within our industry.”

Knowledge, Experience, and the Art of Papermaking

CPU’s new member class at the 2016 meeting during PaperCon in Cincinnati, OH.

Forget your SATs and GREs. One of the pulp and paper industry’s most selective “universities” has the one requirement you can’t reduce to a single score: experience.

Couch Pit University is a group of industry professionals devoted to perpetuating the art of papermaking. They represent a vast resource of hands-on knowledge: to be considered for membership, you must have been working in the industry for no less than 25 years, and have achieved at least the role of superintendent (or have earned PIMA’s Superintendent of the Year Award.) In 2016, the group celebrated its 25th anniversary.

According to CPU emeritus member Randy Kimpfbeck, the group was started by veteran papermaker Gene Shurling. “He wanted to recognize the up-through-the-ranks papermakers—the ones who clawed their way out of the couch pit and became superintendents,” he says.

As the pulp and paper industry changed and college degrees became more common, paper companies began to promote engineers into supervisory jobs, and some of these hands-on veterans began to feel displaced, says Roger Smith, past president of CPU. “They felt papermakers deserved recognition for experience and ability, as well as for a college degree. Many of our charter members had started sweeping floors and hustling broke; they worked their way up to positions like superintendent, production manager, even mill manager, and had learned a lot along the way,” Smith says. “So they decided, let’s recognize ourselves—let’s recognize that what we learned in the couch pit is the equivalent of a college degree.”

Today, CPU also accepts members with degrees, as long as they also have the prerequisite years of experience. The group limits active membership to 100. “We typically nominate no more than 10 people a year, plus the Superintendent of the Year,” says Kimpfbeck. “There’s also quite a lengthy list of emeritus members—those who’d like to remain involved with CPU, but who want to open their active position for someone new.”

Adds emeritus member Bob Kinstrey, “We’ve got a great depth of knowledge. At a typical CPU annual meeting, we’ll have 1,600 years of experience in the room. We think of it like the School of Hard Knocks, and you don’t graduate the School of Hard Knocks in one year.”

Giving Back

Supporting the industry by sharing their experience and helping the next generation is a core value for CPU members. “We award four $1,000 scholarships each year. We’re currently working with eight pulp and paper universities; we could certainly consider expanding that to additional schools,” Smith says. Scholarships include a memorial scholarship in the name of CPU charter member Hilton Kitchens; another is being established by the family of CPU member Ken Brown, in his memory.

The group also works to provide mentoring for students and young professionals. While the program has been mostly informal, CPU hopes to establish more student mentoring through industry schools. “Our hope is to pass along some of that practical knowledge from our members down to the young people,” says Kimpfbeck. “Our members are spread out around the country. The idea would be that a mentoring relationship wouldn’t need to end with graduation.”

The group holds its annual meetings on the Saturday before each year’s PaperCon; on that Sunday, CPU (jointly with TAPPI) sponsors a reception for members of TAPPI’s Young Professionals Division. “We meet with young people who have an interest in talking with experienced papermakers. Some CPU members also attend the TAPPI Student Summit to establish mentoring relationships there,” says Smith.

We’d love to have students reach out to us,” Kinstrey says. “Our members would be a great resource for knowledge and methods for their senior projects.”

Support For The Future

As CPU plans its next 25 years, the goal is to expand both the scholarship and mentoring programs to continue preserving and passing along members’ thousands of hours of practical experience. The group is hoping to garner more industry support.

The best way for paper companies or schools to support CPU would be to work with us to build a mentoring program,” says Kimpfbeck. “When a young person comes into the mill who could benefit from practical mentoring, see if there are any CPU members nearby. Work with us on mentoring relationships that continue beyond the academic setting. Also, contributions toward our scholarships would be greatly appreciated; donations can be made directly to the scholarship fund.”

Kinstrey feels that CPU serves an important role in the industry. “Raising money and supporting the college kids, getting them engaged with the paper industry, is very useful. I believe in giving back to the students and young professionals. They’re the future of our industry,” he says. “CPU has a lot of members still working in the industry. Today, not only do we have more avenues into the organization, we have more avenues for giving back our knowledge and experience.”

Learn more about Couch Pit University at Contact Gary Nyman at [email protected] to make a scholarship donation; to inquire about mentorship matching, contact [email protected].

SUNY-ESF Students Turn on the STEAM

A SUNY-ESF student helps an Ed Smith student at the Trebuchet Center.

Says Scott, “The students love the typewriter! Our event has inspired several students to purchase typewriters and explore using this technology and paper.”

At Edward Smith K-8 school in Syracuse, NY, a highlight of the year is the annual STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics) Night. The popular event is planned and staffed with the cooperation of students from the SUNY-ESF Paper and Bioprocess Engineering program. The event began in 2012.

The partnership with SUNY-ESF students has continued to grow with the evolution of the STEAM Event, and they have truly been an integral part of the evening’s success,” says Kay Scott, event organizer (and wife of Dr. Gary Scott, SUNY-ESF professor and chair, Paper and Bioprocess Engineering.) “Every year, participation has grown and word has spread that this is a very fun family event. About 250 people attended and participated in this year’s STEAM event, with the majority being Ed Smith families, parents and students; about 20 SUNY-ESF students volunteered.”

The event is designed around hands-on activity centers where kids can spend as much time as they like. All the centers are staffed by parents, community volunteers, and SUNY-ESF students. This year, 15 activity centers included a Catapult and Trebuchet Center; Paper Rocket Creation, Launch and Design Contest; The Magic of Math, with mobius strips and flexagons; a Construction/Deconstruction Center; and Historic Technology, featuring typewriters and paper.

The help and expertise of the SUNY-ESF students has been inspirational,” says Scott. “Every year we include some sort of ‘paper-focused’ center that the students fully run, such as paper testing, paper airplanes, or this year’s paper rockets. We hope to inspire teachers, parents, and students to look at STEM/STEAM activities in a new way with a renewed level of enthusiasm and interest. Perhaps this event will even inspire students to consider their future in a STEM field.”

This comment from one of the adult volunteers best captures the event’s success: “I am not sure who had the most fun, the Ed Smith students or the SUNY-ESF students.”

A Foundation of the Community

Contributing to the communities in which the company operates has been a priority for WestRock…since before it was WestRock. The WestRock Foundation has its roots in the Mead Corporation Foundation, which was founded in 1957; and in the Westvaco Foundation, founded in 1953. Since those organizations merged in 2003, they have offered more than US$56.4 million in support to targeted programs. Plus, employee volunteers have donated more than 734,000 hours to more than 3,000 qualified organizations.

Today, the WestRock Foundation seeks to invest in diverse efforts to serve the communities in which the company operates. Ideas for projects, partnerships, and volunteer activities come from local employee teams. The foundation focuses on three key areas for strategic grants and volunteer initiatives:

Sustainable Communities: The WestRock Foundation partners with organizations that help people and families rely on themselves and offer support to their neighbors. Efforts include support of central business districts and work with community youth programs.

Education: The foundation helps guarantee access to education for people of all ages, including WestRock employee families. It funds specific efforts to ensure tomorrow’s workforce is both creative and well-qualified.

Environmental Stewardship: Through educational programs, outdoor learning centers and other facilities, the foundation’s efforts help preserve the natural environment for current and future generations. The foundation also teams with leaders in science and public policy to support care of ecosystems and responsible land management.

The WestRock Foundation accepts proposals continually, and makes allocations for the coming year’s projects each fall. Learn more at

A Royal Visit

From left: Jonas Eriksson, manager Södra Cell Värö; H. M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden; Lars Idermark, CEO of Södra.

H. M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden planting a tree.

The inauguration of a new mill represents a tremendous group effort, and the successful opening is a source of pride for all involved and a cause for celebration. And when a king shows up to mark the event, everyone has an extra reason to feel “proud to be a papermaker.”

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden was in attendance to plant a tree at the official inauguration of Södra Cell’s Värö pulp mill in Sweden. Paper360° was present at the exclusive event that will see the mill increase production from 425,000 to 700,000 tpy, making it one of the largest softwood pulp mills in the world.

We are delighted to announce that production is underway. Our focus in the immediate future will be ramping up the production rate,” said Gunilla Saltin, business area president, Södra Cell.