Award Winning Leaders Share Perspectives at Spring Meet

ASPI’s 2023 Spring Meeting welcomed members who heard from the winners of the association’s two awards: Customer Executive of the Year and the Excellence in Leadership Award. The group also enjoyed a full program of speakers who discussed some of the most critical issues facing today’s pulp and paper industry. The meeting took place February 22-24 at the Hyatt, Clearwater Beach, FL.

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Clay Ellis, International Paper (left), accepts his award as 2023 Customer Executive of the Year from ASPI President Steve Grandchamp, Buckman.

This year’s Customer Executive of the Year is Clay Ellis, International Paper. The highest honor that ASPI can bestow on an individual, this award is presented annually to a customer executive who has worked diligently within his or her company and with the company’s suppliers to dramatically increase the benefits the company derives from its supplied goods and services.

As senior vice president for IP’s Global Cellulose Fibers business, Ellis is responsible for leading the company’s absorbent, specialty, and market pulp business around the world. He joined IP in 1992 as a process engineer at the Natchez, MS, mill, and over the course of his career has held a variety of manufacturing, engineering, technical, and commercial leadership positions. Ellis was named a company officer in 2012 and elected senior vice president in 2019.

Ellis serves on the board of The National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc. (NCASI) as well as Seeding Success, a Memphis “cradle to career” partnership for children. He previously served on the board of directors for the National Paper Trade Association and AF&PA printing, writing and pulp sectors, as well as the Memphis Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Ellis earned a BS in chemical engineering from Louisiana State University and completed Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

In his presentation to ASPI members, Ellis offered valuable insight into his world-leading company, discussing the recent transformations that have led to IP being, in his words, “a more simple company today.” He also shared the company’s Vision 2030, giving attendees a clear look at the goals driving this important industry customer.

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WestRock’s Fred Lundy (right) with ASPI President Steve Grandchamp, Buckman, and Lundy’s 2023 Excellence in Leadership Award.

For this special recognition, ASPI members may nominate individuals who have demonstrated leadership in capital projects, mill transformation, grade changes, mill restructuring, and/or human resource management. ASPI chose WestRock’s Fred Lundy for this year’s recognition.

Lundy has been with WestRock for 20 years and now serves as senior vice president, Engineering and Manufacturing Services. Lundy’s team provides a multitude of support services to the fleet of WestRock mills. He started his career in construction and engineering services; prior to WestRock, Lundy worked for a German company that was the world’s largest producer of photographic paper.

As a leader, Lundy relies on a list of “focus areas,” he told meeting attendees, as he walked them through each of the following points:

  • Getting things done
  • “Managing teams” vs “managing up”
  • Building teams
  • Leading teams
  • Leadership style
  • Creating an environment and culture that empower teams and individuals to grow and prosper
  • Working with leaders to align on what each team does and how it delivers value
  • Bringing together stakeholder teams