RISI’s 2017 Top 50 Power List


Welcome to the 10th Top 50 Power List.

Looking back through the archives to that first list all those years ago, it seems that in some ways the industry has hardly changed at all when it comes to the leading movers and shakers. In 2008, Teguh Wijaya, chairman of APP, was in the top spot, with the chairwoman of Nine Dragons, Cheung Yan, at Number 4. Those two industry stalwarts are still there in high positions, along with Jussi Pesonen of UPM just a little further down the list. This is really a salute to successful longevity in the remarkable world of pulp and paper.

However, in a lot of ways—as all of us in the business know—the industry has been through dramatic change, with names of prominent people in the industry no longer on this list, and some companies even disappearing all together.

The editors really enjoy putting this list together. As we always say, this is not a scientific study, nor is it a popularity contest; it is purely a ranking put together by the editorial team after speaking to a lot of pulp and paper industry experts from around the world.

We would really like to hear from you about who we might have missed or, indeed, who should not be on the list at all! Contact Graeme Rodden at [email protected], or Mark Rushton at [email protected] with your own thoughts on who really wields the power in pulp, paper, and packaging.

1. Cheung Yan
Nine Dragons Paper

RISI’s Asian CEO of the Year for the second time, Cheung Yan continues at the helm of one of the most amazing success stories the industry has ever seen. And the positive results just keep on coming: earlier in the year the company issued a profit alert reporting that the group’s core profit for the six months ending December 2016 has increased by 45 percent on the same period over 2015. Sales volume for the six months hit an historical high at 7.1 million metric tons, despite the fact that no new paper machines started up in that period. In a recent RISI interview Cheung Yan stated, “I am very positive about the future of the packaging and paperboard market; demand will continue to grow as people’s living standards continue to be raised.”

2. Mark Sutton
International Paper

Sutton smartly pulled the plug on the firm’s Asia corrugated and boxboard business and continues to strongly lead the firm’s dominant position in North America’s largest and most successful business today: containerboard and corrugated boxes. Also, he has led the company further forward with additional specialty pulp capacity at Franklin, VA, and the Riegelwood, NC, mill. Sutton is a pure US paper industry leader with a global touch who understands American business, growing from his LSU college days in the Southern US and running mills within the IP system.

3. Walter Schalka

For an unprecedented third consecutive year, Schalka has earned RISI’s Latin American CEO of the Year. He again earned plaudits from the analysts choosing the winner for his work on the bottom line. As one said, “He has been quite vocal about increasing pulp prices and Suzano seems to have taken the lead recently with announcing them.” On the mill side, Schalka brought Suzano into the tissue sector and he was recognized for knowledge of the market. As one analyst cited, “He stands out in terms of efficiency and transparency with the market, always being clear with the company’s strategy. In 2016, he did a very good job with the paper market even though the pulp scenario was under pressure.”

4. Steve Voorhees

Under his leadership, WestRock continues to move ahead. It has completed the sale of its Home, Health and Beauty business to Silgan Holdings for approximately US$1.025 billion in cash. The company expects to use the proceeds from the sale of the business in connection with its previously announced purchase of Multi Packaging Solutions International. In March, WestRock acquired Star Pizza Box, the largest US manufacturer and distributor of pizza boxes. One contact familiar with the deal said Star will provide an outlet for WestRock’s containerboard and white top linerboard production. Other management moves—e.g., the SP acquisition—have proven very beneficial to the company over the years. It also recently announced that it wants to invest US$50 million in new wood chip storage and transfer facilities at its paper mill in West Point, VA. It again has been named to Fortune Magazine’s annual list of the “World’s Most Admired Companies.”

5. Cristiano Texeira

Another newcomer to the list with big shoes to fill, Texeira has replaced Fabio Schvartsman as Klabin’s man in charge. He comes in on a wave of optimism as the company’s first foray into market pulp, the Puma project, reached design capacity in April after a shutdown; cash costs per metric ton have also been reduced. It started up in March 2016. Texeira joined Klabin in 2011 and was recently executive officer for corrugated board, industrial bags, containerboard, and kraft papers.

6. Anthony Pratt
Pratt Industries

The company’s go-getter global chairman received a standing ovation from President Donald Trump at an event in New York City in May after pledging to invest in the US. “I’d like to pledge another US$2 billion over the next 10 years, doubling our rate of investment, to create an additional 5,000 high-paying manufacturing jobs mainly in the Midwest,” Pratt said. During the past couple of decades, the Australian billionaire has spent about US$2.5 billion building Pratt Industries into the sixth largest US containerboard producer, with four recycled containerboard mills and more than 60 box plants generating US$3 billion in sales. The Midwest has been a major area of recent investment, but recent speculation has been on Pratt Industries’ future expansion plans in the West, where the company bought Robert Mann Packaging. Pratt has talked of plans to build a US$1 billion corrugated box business in California and possibly add a mill on the West Coast. More recently, he mentioned plans to build a “high-tech, robotic” box plant in California for more than US$70 million that could be capable of producing 135,000 tpy of corrugated.

7. Teguh Wijaya

No power list in the pulp and paper industry would be complete without Wijaya, chairman of APP. The company continues on its mission to be the biggest player globally, with the recent start-up of the 2.8 million metric tpy Oki pulp mill in Indonesia—the mill is now reportedly running at about 80 percent of full capacity. All the output so far from the greenfield mill has been shipped to APP’s own mills for paper and board production. The company is also expanding massively in its tissue production with the recent order of eight huge units from Italian supplier Toscotec, which will each produce 100,000 tpy. On the environmental front, positive progress is finally being made on reengaging with FSC, which disassociated itself from APP in 2007.

8. Peter Oswald

With former Mondi CEO David Hathorn retiring, Vienna-based Oswald has taken over the reins at the packaging and paper giant. Former winner of the RISI European CEO of the Year and Global CEO of the Year Awards, Oswald has acted in various roles at Mondi since joining in 1992 and has been serving as executive director and CEO of the Europe & International division since January 2008. Mondi recently announced that it is set to continue growing its packaging business through investments in its existing divisions and evaluating acquisitions “anywhere between Germany and eastern Europe and Russia.”

9. Marcello Castelli

The world’s leading eucalyptus pulp producer (and market pulp producer) has announced it is moving forward the expected date for the completion and startup of the Horizonte 2 Project to build a second pulp production line at its unit in Três Lagoas, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. Previously scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2017, the mill is now slated to start operations in September. In February, construction began on the intermodal terminal in Aparecida do Taboado, Mato Grosso do Sul, which will distribute the pulp produced by the new mill in Três Lagoas to the Macuco Terminal at the Port of Santos in São Paulo, which also is already under construction. However, Fibria may take significant downtime at its Aracruz mill after ramping up a new pulp line at Três Lagoas. After the startup, Fibria may reduce market BEK output at its Aracruz mill by between 100,000 to 300,000 metric tons on a yearly basis.

10. Christian FisCher

Following in the footsteps of Jim Hannan, who has been promoted within Koch Industries, cannot be easy, but Fischer has long experience with GP, most recently as executive vice president of the packaging and cellulose units. The company just announced that it will spend US$400 million for a new TAD machine, GP’s fifth. It will be focused on growing the firm again in the private label sector; start-up is set for 2019. Estimates put the GP share of the US private label market at roughly 15-20 percent, based on RISI’s latest Outlook for World Tissue Business Forecast.

11. Tony Smurfit
Smurfit Kappa Group

Smurfit Kappa is a giant in packaging that continues to grow under Smurfit’s leadership, even in at time of rising raw material costs and currency volatility—particularly stemming from its Americas operations. Figures for 2016 report that growth is approaching 3 percent in Europe (excluding Germany) and 1 percent across all operations, with pre-tax profit increasing by 9 percent. Last year the group completed a number of acquisitions in the Americas, including two integrated corrugated packaging companies in Brazil, Industria de Embalagens Santana (INPA) and Paema Embalagens in Brazil, and the Scope Packaging sheet plant and Empire Packaging & displays in the US, which helped see corrugated volumes surge by 20 percent in the region. The company also acquired the UK’s Saxon Packaging business last year.

12. Raymond Lee
Lee & Man

One of the largest containerboard manufacturers in China, Lee & Man continues to become a major force in the industry with total sales in 2016 of 5.3 million metric tons and an annual profit increase of 22.7 percent. The company is continuing expansion into Southeast Asian markets with the startup of its operations in Hau Giang, Vietnam, which will add another 400,000 metric tons of output. It is also starting up another 400,000 metric ton machine at its Jiangxi plant this year, which will push its production over the 6 million tpy mark. Lee & Man has also successfully entered the tissue market, where it is producing around 355,000 tpy, with plans to virtually double that production in the near future with the start-up of six new tissue production lines.

13. Richard Garneau
Resolute Forest Products

Facing some tough issues—including countervailing lumber duties as well as duties on supercalendered paper imposed by the US on some Canadian producers—Garneau continues to battle. In a major change of pace for the company known for newsprint and lumber, Resolute managed to successfully start up its first tissue machine at the Calhoun, TN, mill. Garneau was also recognized by the Montreal Economic Institute with the John Dobson Medal for Free Enterprise for his fight against Greenpeace.

14. Li Hongxin
Sun Paper

Chinese company Sun Paper continues to grow and diversify into other areas and grades. Traditionally a large graphic paper producer in China, it has recently diversified into recycled containerboard with the start-up of two 500,000 tpy machines at its Zoucheng site. It has recently announced that it will add another 800,000 tpy of capacity at the same site. The firm also recently announced that it is bringing a 200,000 tpy specialty paper unit online at its flagship mill in Yanzhou city, Shandong province. Elsewhere, the company has applied for permits for the planned pulp and bio-refining mill in Arkansas as a dissolving pulp facility. It is also going ahead with building a new pulp mill in Laos, complete with a swing line capable of producing 300,000 tpy of bleached hardwood kraft pulp or 250,000 tpy of dissolving pulp, starting up mid-2018.

15. Jussi Pesonen

Looks like all the right decisions have been made when it comes to growth initiatives as profits soar at UPM. Under Pesonen’s leadership, the Biofore company has flourished in focused areas such as labels and specialty papers, while it carefully manages the decline in graphic paper demand. The company continues to have ambitions in biofuels for transport, which have always been a central part of the Biofore strategy. On the pulp front, UPM is moving ahead on negotiations for another giant mill development in Uruguay. The company already has a 1.3 million tpy bleached eucalyptus mill in Fray Bentos, Rio Negro.

16. Mark Kowlzan
Packaging Corporation of America

Kowlzan must be doing something right. He was named the 2017 TAPPI/PIMA Executive of the Year and he also captured RISI’s 2017 North American CEO of the Year. What did the analysts say? With Kowlzan in charge, PCA “has continued to put up best-in-class margins and expand their converting presence. They have maintained a strong balance sheet and with stock at all-time highs are poised for another growth step.” In the past year, PCA acquired several independent converters that increased its containerboard-to-box integration and added containerboard capacity as part of a conversion project at its DeRidder, LA, mill.

17. John Williams

Under Williams’ guidance, the company established a strong presence in the personal care and fluff pulp sectors. Now, North America’s largest uncoated freesheet (UFS) paper producer will push more heavily into making specialty papers, including for labels and food service packaging. The company makes specialties at five of its 12 paper mills. Domtar remains a favorite among the financial analysts. As one noted, “While the company’s 3 million tpy uncoated free sheet business will no doubt take a step or two backwards this year, the company’s now 2 million ton softwood-based paper-grade and fluff pulp business will take several leaps forward.”

18. Miles Roberts
DS Smith

As we were putting together the Power List for this year, breaking news came in that DS Smith has signed an agreement to acquire Interstate Resources in its first major move into the US corrugated box market. London-based DS Smith has proposed to pay US$920 million for 80 percent of the private, family-owned US company’s equity and US$226 million for 100 percent of its debt, which would value the entire company at US$1.38 billion. This major acquisition under Roberts’ leadership signals that it is very much “business as usual” at DS Smith, with organic and acquisitional growth going hand-in-hand. In the first half of the year the company acquired Creo in the UK and Deku-Pack in Denmark, and has recently announced the acquisition of France-based packaging provider DPF Groupe. On the organic growth side, DS Smith recently announced it will install a new, state-of-the-art containerboard machine at its Lucca mill in Italy.

19. Kari Jordan
Metsä Group

This will be the last full year with Jordan at the helm of the Metsä Group—he is set to retire on April 1, 2018, with Ilkka Hämälä (current CEO of Metsä Fibre) to take over the top position. Jordan has done a remarkable job in the transformation of the Metsä Group, which started in 2005, and leaves the company in great shape with the giant Äänekoski bioproduct mill set to start up shortly, the packaging side of the business in good order with increased capacity, and the successful exiting of all woodfree paper production complete. Last year Jordan won both the RISI European CEO of the Year and Global CEO of the Year awards.

20. Karl-Henrick Sundström
Stora Enso

Sundström recently commented that Stora Enso started 2017 showing some promise as it continues to transform into a “renewable materials” company. In Q1, sales increased for the first time since 2012, mainly due to the ramp-ups of Beihai consumer board, and the Murów and Varkaus mills. The company recently scrapped plans to build a new 500,000 metric tpy recycled containerboard machine at its Ostoleka mill in Poland following a feasibility study.

21. Magnus Groth

SCA has been much in the news lately as it has cleared the way to split into two listed companies: SCA, which will be a forest products company; and Essity, a hygiene and health company. The split aims to increase the value for shareholders in the long-term through increased focus, customer value, and development opportunities. Groth has been named as president and CEO of Essity. SCA recently rebuffed a SEK 200 billion (US$22.23 billion) offer for its hygiene business from a consortium of private equity companies.

22. Linda Massman
Clearwater Paper

Massman is working hard to grow Clearwater in tissue consumer products, namely private label. The firm is ranked as the second largest private label tissue paper producer in North America. Her approach has been noteworthy, with a large energy project that is expected to greatly help reduce the company’s mill production costs at its largest complex in Lewiston, ID, as well as the February announcement of a planned second TAD tissue machine in Shelby, NC. The company also has pushed forward using new technology for converting tissue automation.

23. Lars Idermark

Last year was one of transition for Södra as it embarked upon major investment and restructuring to set itself up for demands of the future. The company completely restructured its wood raw material operations as well as invested extensively in its Värö and Mörrum mills, which is part of its 2020 Group strategy. Idermark recently stated, “Södra’s efforts to create a stronger company in a more global and competitive market are continuing. The investments of recent years are among the largest in the company’s history, and we are strengthening our customer offering and securing markets for our members’ forest products.”

24. Joe Kruger

Kruger Packaging started up its 400,000 tpy lightweight recycled linerboard machine on May 7, right on schedule. It is a complete rebuild of former No. 10 newsprint machine. The head of the family-owned, Montreal-based company has never been afraid to invest. The US$183 million project uses the latest containerboard manufacturing technology, and the market has shown confidence in the product as the machine was oversold for May. Kruger Packaging is a new company that combines all Kruger’s containerboard and packaging operations. The conversion was designed to produce new opportunities at Trois-Rivières, QC, and secure 270 jobs at the large mill complex, which had been facing declining sales for newsprint and printing paper grades. Kruger is “happy about the timing” of the startup, coming at a time when North American box demand is strong; plus, no new capacity expansion projects of 250,000 tpy or more have been definitely announced in North America for 2017-2019.

25. Luigi Lazzareschi

With its 50-year anniversary this year, the fast-growing Italian-based tissue manufacturer has recently released figures for 2016 that show an increased turnover and profits in line with its ambitious forecasts. The company has been on a major expansion drive over recent years that now sees it as a major tissue producer with subsidiaries in 13 countries including Italy, Spain, the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Romania, Turkey, and the US. CEO Lazzareschi recently picked up the Capo d’Orlando Award in the Science and Industry category for “having combined the injection of state-of-the-art production technologies with industrial management of rare environmental sensitivity.”

26. Steve Binnie

As CEO, Binnie continues to lead Sappi in the right direction. His strategic focus on dissolving pulp and specialty papers is paying dividends as graphic paper demand continues to decline. Earlier this year the company announced that it would boost specialty packaging capacity in Europe with projects at the group’s Alfeld mill in Germany and Maastrict mill in the Netherlands. Sappi Europe CEO Berry Wiersum recently picked up the RISI European CEO of the Year Award for leading the successful transformation of the division into a leading specialty papers producer in the region.

27. Mike Grimm
American Eagle Paper

This is a leader with a small mill in a declining uncoated freesheet white papers business who strongly competes and has bettered his business with several capital additions in the last few years. The firm just completed a major boiler job that reduced energy cost, and has added sheeting and warehouse space. It also has moved to somewhat diversify its product mix.

28. Michael Doss
Graphic Packaging

Continuing to show strong leadership since he took over the CEO role in 2016, Doss joined with DHL Supply Chain CEO Scott Sureddin to announce the companies will make a combined US$274 million capital investment in Northeast Louisiana and develop a 1.27 million-square-foot folding carton plant and logistics center in Monroe. In West Monroe, Graphic Packaging will continue to reinvest in its paper manufacturing location, including upgrades to the mill’s paper machines. The company’s West Monroe operations will supply paperboard for the new packaging and logistics center in Monroe. In addition to West Monroe mill investments totaling US$120 million over the next several years, Graphic Packaging will invest US$70 million in new state-of-the-art folding carton plant equipment for the converting plant in Monroe. Doss was also honored as the ASPI 2017 Customer Executive of the Year, the highest honor that ASPI can bestow on an individual.

29. John O’Donnell
Neenah Paper

This former Georgia-Pacific leader has steadily grown Neenah Paper through acquisitions and creative energy. The company adds grades in a declining white papers market and pivots to grow nicely in technical specialty papers and luxury packaging. Neenah Paper just started up a transportation filtration machine in Wisconsin, by converting a white papers machine, in an end segment where the firm has a leadership position globally.

30. Matías Domeyko

The world’s number two producer of market pulp has just received notice that it can proceed with a new 1.5-million metric tpy bleached eucalyptus kraft pulp line at its Arauco mill in Horcones, Chile. The MAPA project, as it is known, will cost US$300 million and include a new effluent treatment plant. The company has also broken ground on a new particleboard mill in Michigan. In 2017, the Chilean-based company celebrates 40 years of business with China, where it is one of the leading pulp suppliers.

31. Jan Åström

The merger of two companies, Ahlstrom and Munksjö, has created a new force in specialty papers in Europe that will be led by Åström in the role of president and CEO. The combination of the two companies creates an entity with net sales of around Euro 2.2 billion (US$2.3 billion), approximately 6,200 employees, and 41 production and converting facilities in 14 countries.

Åström says of the merger, “By being devoted to increasing efficiency and lowering costs without compromising on our quality leadership, I am convinced that we will be able to achieve the target of annual synergies of Euro 35 million as well as add top line opportunities.”

32. Scott Pruitt
US Environmental Protection Agency

One of the new US administration’s more controversial appointments, Pruitt has flown under the radar recently because of the other more newsworthy issues plaguing President Trump. Pruitt had advocated exiting the Paris Climate Agreement; he has also strongly rejected the established science of climate change, outraging scientists, environmentalists, and even his immediate predecessor at the Environmental Protection Agency. A headline in a column by David Horsey of the Los Angeles Times read: “Undermining the EPA with anti-scientific ignorance.” The actions of the EPA have a direct effect on the industry. The Trump administration’s proposed federal budget would whack the Environmental Protection Agency especially hard—a 30 percent cut. Even some big corporations that are less-than-enthusiastic fans of the EPA are worried the budget stinginess will be problematic for their operations because there won’t be enough staff at the agency to process and approve the applications needed to move ahead with environmentally sensitive projects.

33. Eduardo Posada
Grupo Gondi

In 2016, the company completed the acquisition and change of control of Aluprint Folding Cartons from Austria-based Constantia Flexibles, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of flexible packaging and labels, after receiving COFECE’s authorization. Aluprint Folding Cartons, located in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, is a premier manufacturer of high graphic folding cartons; the acquisition will further Grupo Gondi’s market share in high graphic packaging (“Sexy Boxes”) and extend its range in the growing and dynamic consumer goods industry in Mexico and the US. Following this acquisition, Grupo Gondi will operate 14 plants and employ more than 7,200. Recently, the company hired Bellmer to revamp two paper machines at its Empaques Modernos Guadalajara (EMG) and Empaques Modernos San Pablo (EMSP) mills. With completion of the revamp in the first quarter 2018, Gondi expects to add 90,000 tpy of recycled containerboard capacity and improve product quality. The company has just announced it will build a 350,000 metric tpy lightweight recycled containerboard mill in Mexico, investing US$300 million in the project.

34. Jane Molony

An enthusiastic and ebullient South African, Molony has recently been appointed as the new president of the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations, where she will serve for the next two years. Molony is also currently executive director of the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa. Molony said of her appointment, which was announced at the ICFPA annual meeting in Berlin this past spring, “Without our products, many people would not be able to teach, read, or learn; businesses would not be able to ship merchandise or protect goods; nor would people be able to improve their lives through the basics of personal hygiene.” The ICFPA represents more than 30 national and regional forest paper associations around the world.

35. Sylvain Lhôte

Lhôte joined CEPI as director general only 10 months ago and is admittedly “very impressed with the pulp and paper industry’s resilience and sustainability qualities.” Lhôte has joined from the aluminum industry and is hoping to urge European producers to get away from the mindset of “selling tons of paper” and into the more lucrative one of selling functionality and surface quality, where there are much higher margins. Lhôte is also actively engaged in making sure the European industry is in no way hindered by unfair competition from producers outside of the EU. (See page 38 of this issue for Paper360°’s exclusive interview with Lhôte.)

36. Per Lindberg

Despite something of a production nightmare at the beginning of the year, BillerudKorsnäs continues be a major and growing force in the fiber-based packaging industry and is embarking on some major expansion projects, including a new 550,000 tpy board machine at its Gruvön mill and a relocation of its 100,000 tpy machine-glazed PM from Finland to its Skärblacka mill in Sweden. Lindberg recently stated: “We have stabilized our production, and the most important event last year, the decision to build a new board machine at Gruvön, gives us the foundation for long-term growth.”

37. Jim Pattison
Jim Pattison Group 

This may fall under the listing of what may be. The largest shareholder for West Fraser and Canfor are now one and the same: Pattison, one of Canada’s most prominent billionaires, owns a rather large stake in Canfor (48 percent of the company’s shares after his latest additions according to Bloomberg and others). However, it was recently publicly released that he also has a sizable investment in West Fraser, after West Fraser’s latest batch of share repurchases pushed Pattison’s WFT ownership above 10 percent (the threshold needed to be considered an insider and thus requiring a disclosure). According to Paul Quinn, RBC Dominion Securities, this is not the first time Pattison has held large positions in two of BC’s largest lumber companies. In 2003, Pattison held large stakes in both Canfor and Slocan Forest Products, which would later merge in a C$455 million deal that same year. What would a potential combination look like? It would create the largest global lumber company, with a combined capacity of about 12.3 BBF (32 percent in the US and 68 percent in Canada) and 52 mills (28 from West Fraser and 24 from Canfor). However, Quinn notes, this potential merger would result in a combined company representing 53 percent of BC interior production, which would likely draw significant regulatory scrutiny. He adds that he does not see this combination coming to fruition any time soon given the significant competitive issues associated with the Canadian lumber industry.

38. Larry Montague

Further strengthening the association’s financial position in 2016 was but one of the high points of the year as TAPPI entered its second century of operation. With a series of successful conferences (PaperCon, PEERS, International Nanotechnology) and its many educational offerings, in 2017, TAPPI is also looking forward to a new must-attend conference, the Tissue Event, organized in collaboration with RISI, which takes place in October in Miami. The TAPPISAFE program is growing and has gone global with orientations in six countries. It presents a standardized approach to safety within the industry. As Montague says, “There are two types of people in this industry: TAPPI members, and those who should be.”

39. Donna Harman

Working on behalf of the industry in the US Capital, Harman’s list of tasks seems non-ending, from regulatory reform to rail freight reform to promoting the use of paper over digitalization, to name but a few. With regard to carbon neutrality, the AF&PA’s efforts seem to have paid off. Following Congressional passage of the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations bill—legislation that includes language clarifying federal regulatory policy to reflect the carbon-neutrality of forest-based biomass—Harman said, “US paper and wood products manufacturers have for seven years sought clear policy direction on the carbon neutrality of forest-based renewable biomass energy. Thanks to Congressional action, federal agencies can now ensure the US is no longer out of step with our global competitors.” The AF&PA also reported that for the third consecutive year, the US paper recovery rate rose, from 66.8 percent in 2015 to an all-time high of 67.2 percent in 2016.

40. Rebecca Wesson Darwin
Garden & Gun Magazine

Print is dead? Not so fast. How many other graphic products are growing revenue, ad pages, and circulation (up 140 percent since 2007)? Darwin is cofounder & CEO of the media company she formed with partners Pierre Manigault and J. Edward Bell III that owns Garden & Gun. Launched in 2007, the magazine has won numerous accolades, including the National Magazine Award for Style & Design in 2015. The Garden & Gun brand has continued to develop under Darwin’s direction through the creation of G&G Mercantile & Co., G&G Events, G&G Land, and the Garden & Gun Jubilee. Based in Charleston, SC, Garden & Gun Magazine, LLC is a lifestyle brand anchored by the magazine that covers the best of the South, including its sporting culture, food, music, art, literature, and people. “I am often asked about the title of the magazine, particularly from folks who have not read the magazine yet. The simplest explanation that I can offer is that it is a metaphor for the South—its land, the people, their lifestyle, and their heritage,” said Darwin. 

41. Jürgen Heindl

Earlier in the year, one of Europe’s leading corrugated board manufacturers, Progroup, laid out its plans for its “Two Twentyfive Strategy” to set itself up for future growth and for dealing with the “ever more complex challenges of the market.” This strategy has encompassed expanding at a fast pace, something CEO Heindl has done with regularity after founding the company some 25 years ago. True to form, the company is expanding its capacity in Europe by another 250,000 tpy for 2018 with two new corrugated sheeting plants: one in Drizzona, Italy, and another in the UK, close to Progroup’s existing facility at Ellesmere Port. This brings the total capacity of the Progroup corrugated sheet board to 1,380,000 metric tpy.

42. Birgitta Sunblad
RISE Bioeconomy

RISE is the newly-formed umbrella organization for a Sweden-based institute that has merged research bodies Innventia, SP and Swedish ICT. Sunblad, formerly president of Innventia, heads up RISE Bioeconomy, a division that encompasses Biorefinery and Energy, Papermaking and Packaging, and Biobased Materials. In the past, Innventia has carried out many complex research activities involving the circular economy, forest products, and paper and packaging, which will continue under the RISE Bioeconomy banner with Sunblad as leader. The institute has 320 people working on research projects in Sweden, Norway, and London.

43. TAPPI Women in Industry/
Young Professionals Committees

Through the years, women have always been a part of this list; many others from around the globe play a critical role in their countries’ industry (Elizabeth de Carvalhaes in Brazil, Marina Asp and Annica Bresky in Sweden, and Julie Corbett and Nicki Slusser in the US, to name a few.) Yet the Women in Industry Committee plans to do more than support women already leading; it works to create networking opportunities, conference programming, and educational resources to build “a competitive, diverse and dynamic industry that offers long-term, fulfilling careers where women and men work synergistically.” In a similar way, the YP Committee is fostering leadership skills and providing mentor matching for promising younger professionals in an effort to ensure strong leaders for tomorrow. By attracting and training talented leaders, both committees are working to shape the industry’s future.

44. Martyn Eustace
Two Sides

Eustace has been the driving force behind Two Sides, the initiative founded to promote the sustainable attributes of the pulp and paper industry, as well as proactively confronting “greenwashers” that tarnish the industry’s reputation. Formed around 10 years ago in Europe, Two Sides is now a global organization with numerous member companies from the pulp, paper, and graphic arts industries. Eustace recently received the Paper Industry Gold Medal at the Stationers’ Hall in London. The award is presented annually to those considered to have done the most to further the interests of the paper, print, and allied industries in the UK.

45. The Brexit

The subject of the Brexit also appeared on our list last year, and will probably continue into the future as the real implications of the breakaway of the UK from Europe are felt throughout the European industry and beyond.

46. The E-commerce Package

It could be said that e-commerce has come of age, even though it is still ridiculously young. No longer the domain purely of business-to-business, e-commerce is an activity that takes place almost every day and in every household across the developed world as consumers increasingly expect on-demand service. Some companies, for example Amazon with its AmazonPrime package, are revolutionizing the way we live: while streaming the latest film on your TV, you can be ordering anything from a pencil to a washing machine, which will probably be delivered by tomorrow (if not same day) and mostly for free. This new way of living and buying things has been a welcome boon for the pulp and paper industry; all those goods we want right now need to be packaged and protected by a good, solid corrugated box as they are rushed to our front doors.

47. The Good Old-Fashioned Book

It sounds almost impossible to believe, but the younger generation is being held responsible for the upsurge in printed book sales. According to figures coming out of the UK, consumers there are spending an extra 6 percent, or £100 million (US$128 million), on books, while e-book sales declined by 4 percent. A survey conducted by Nielsen attributed the increase in print sales to younger generations preferring physical books to e-readers. The research also concluded that young people are using books as a welcome break from digital devices and the bombardment of social media.

48. The Digital Transformation

Newspapers are accelerating their “digital transformation” to offset plummeting print revenue. Q1 financial filings from US daily newspaper publishers continue to tell a story of a shrinking print business for North American newsprint producers’ biggest customers. Earnings reports by six publicly-traded newspaper groups revealed that digital revenue continues to rise—but in many cases not quickly enough to offset falling revenue on the print side, especially print advertising. The filings go a long way in explaining the 16 percent drop in demand for newsprint by North American newspapers in the first quarter of 2017. Despite “continued pressure on print advertising” that saw first-quarter print ad revenues at The New York Times Co. drop 18 percent, total revenues of US$399 million were up 5 percent from US$380 million in the first quarter of 2016, thanks to 19 percent growth in digital advertising and “an astonishing” 308,000 additional digital news subscriptions that CEO Mark Thompson called the “single best quarter for subscriber growth in our history.”

49. Richard Coward
Rigid Containers (part of the VPK Group)

As managing director of one of the UK’s leading independent corrugated manufacturers, Coward has been a prominent force in steering the company forward in the areas of acquisition and growth. An ambitious and successful expansion in the Southwest region of the UK has seen Rigid Containers’ geographical coverage increase, and its recent growth into Ireland following the purchase of Limerick-based ICS Europaks has now positioned it as one of the leading integrated manufacturers in Ireland. Coward’s drive and determination, backed by VPK Packaging’s investment, has transformed Rigid’s standing in the corrugated industry by doubling the company’s size over the past decade—in square meters and value. Coward is also vice president of the Confederation of Paper Industries and is chairman of its corrugated industry council; in this role he has helped steer the association for the past eight years through the many economic ups and downs, always with a firm focus on what is best for the corrugated industry and its future. 

50. Chicago Cubs 

For the first time in more than 100 years, the Chicago Cubs won baseball’s World Series. The Cubs’ World Series run generated plenty of sports page coverage; both Chicago newspapers, the Tribune and the Sun-Times, added hundreds of thousands to their usual circulation for Special Editions following the win. And don’t forget the proliferation of printed “W” signs in windows throughout the city’s North Side, or the mountains of confetti used at the Cubs’ World Series parade (crowd estimates range as high as five million people and yes, you can buy batches of used “Cubs parade confetti” on eBay.) The Cubbies also serve as inspiration for any industry in the process of rebuilding and reinventing itself: great things are possible.