Insight on Business

April 2013

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Rolling with the times Paper industry looks to change image B y M a ry B e t h M at z e k Jeff Landin is on a mission to break through stereotypes and misconceptions that the paper industry in Wisconsin is dying. ���Wisconsin is still the No. 1 papermaking state in the country and it���s home to industries that cover the whole lifecycle from forest harvesting to paper making to the strong converting industry,��� says Landin, the president of the Wisconsin Paper Council, which is headquartered in 20 | Insight ��� A p r i l 2 013 Grand Chute. ���People just think of paper as it relates to what you write on, but tissue is a huge industry in Wisconsin. For example, all of the brown paper in every Reese���s peanut butter cup is made in Wisconsin.��� Raising paper���s profile ��� which seems to only make headlines when a paper mill shuts down, putting hundreds out of work ��� is essential as the industry takes on a challenge facing many manufacturers ��� finding enough skilled workers. The average age of a worker in a paper or converting mill is in the 50s and only going up. As those workers retire, Landin says there is a real concern about who will take their place. ���For a long time, kids have been steered away from careers in paper and people think it���s a dying industry, but it���s not,��� he says. ���It���s a vibrant, growing industry. The paper industry isn���t going to go away.��� Converters ��� companies that take basic paper and then make everything from toilet paper to specialized packaging ��� are the industry���s bright spot. Many paper and converting companies are reaching out to high school-age students and younger to show students and their parents just what a job in the industry is like. ���There are a lot of misconceptions ��� that these are boring jobs in a dark, dirty mill, but our mills are clean, bright places that use a lot of technology,��� Landin says. ���These aren���t the jobs that people think they are.��� Beyond reaching out to schools, Landin works with workforce development boards and education programs at different chambers of commerce offices to make sure they are aware of the industry���s offerings. ���We need to get back to the front of mind when it comes to job options for students. These are good-paying jobs,��� he says. ���Our workforce is aging and we are going to need a lot of workers to fill those spots as they retire.��� Regulations cause concern While the paper industry is doing well, Landin admits challenges remain. Not only are companies facing stiff competition from overseas, especially China, but new environmental rules, specifically the Boiler MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rule, may require millions in capital improvements that some companies may be unable to afford. ���Regulations continue to be the top concern among our members,��� Landin w w w. i n s i g h t o n b u s i n e s s . c o m

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