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This is directed at those companies with printing & writing machines shut down. May I suggest that perhaps your job today is to create demand? Yes, I know those machines are big, and turning just one on can flood us with more fine paper than we know what to do with, but perhaps it is worth a shot.

Ideas for this may be in our history as a society. Ideas may be found looking at simpler times, before all the media we have today. Think about it. There was a time when there were no birthday cards. There was a time when there were no Parcheesi or Monopoly game boards (I know, they aren't exactly fine paper, but they are paper and paperboard nevertheless). There was a time when there were no beer cartons. These were revolutionary ideas that created huge demand for paper and paperboard.

The world is in a malaise. We are all sick and tired of being sick and tired from the pandemic. This is the first time all the world has been in the same status at once, thus creating a huge market for the right spark to just take off. This may be the last big chance to find people not looking at electronic devices. It just may be graphic designers and paper manufacturers hold the key to a new widget that boosts the spirits of the world and turns on a few paper machines to make that widget, a widget that has never been conceived or made before.

In the latter part of his very interesting career, my dad was a model maker at Kenner Toys in Cincinnati. In fact, if you look at the first episode of "The Toys that Made Us" on Netflix, there is a still group shot of the model shop crew in those days--he is the short stooped over white haired old man near the center of the picture. At Kenner's, the job of the model shop team and their managers was to produce "hits." They would create or buy ideas, make prototypes and put them in a test room with a bunch of kids to see if the kids would play with them. We need a worldwide test room to try out ideas made with paper.

We have talented people in this industry who could lead the charge to get this moving. One I can think of is Phil Riebel, President at Two Sides North America. His team is likely already responsible for keeping the equivalent of at least one or two fine paper machines running. But their efforts have been largely defensive, let's put them and/or others like them on the offense, charged with creating new markets for us.

It looks like there will be plenty of parents and kids at home this fall, trying to fill their school days with meaningful projects. Why not put all these bright minds around the world to work on creative solutions from paper? Start some contests, create a buzz. They may just save one or two of your cobweb-gathering machines. And if we could create a new business like beverage cartons...

Jim Thompson is CEO of Paperitalo Publications.


Get Jim Thompson's "Monograph on Purchasing." Available here.


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