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History repeats itself – again
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Ladies and gentlemen, having been in the industry for nearly two decades now, I’ve seen this happen over and over again.

I’m talking about companies expanding – and contracting. Often at the same time.

We saw this scenario play out again this month.

If you listened to the 14 Apr 14 episode of Pulp & Paper Radio International, you heard that a PM40 company announced it would be expanding its operations at one of its locations, pumping millions of dollars into the facility, expanding the facility by more than 40,000 square feet and adding new jobs and “innovative equipment.”

Good news, indeed, especially for the folks who work at what the company described as a “world class facility.”

In our very next story, we reported that the very same company confirmed will be closing another manufacturing facility entirely in less than two months. More than 200 workers currently work at that plant.

I always find it a bit amusing that a company will beat its chest and distribute a press release all over the place, touting an expansion that will add approximately “50 new office and manufacturing employees” – but grudgingly confirms to the media that it’s shutting its doors of an entire facility that employs (for now) more than 200 folks. However, it’s not terribly surprising. (Accentuate the positive, right?)

But it is sometimes surprising to see the reaction of employees and local town or city officials when this type of bad news occurs. They lament, “This place has been here for years and is a major employer,” and, “These folks spend money here and contribute to our economy,” and, “I never thought this would happen to me.” In the case detailed above, the facility that will be closing in June was owned by another company (which had gone bankrupt) until late last year when the current owners bought the bankrupt company’s assets and took over its operations.

We all know when companies merge or buy other companies, there’s a better than average chance that consolidation is on the horizon (job cuts, facility closings, etc.).

It’s important to always remember that a company’s goal is to make money, not to simply provide jobs. That should really go without saying, but sometimes we let ego and the focus on our own situations cloud the bigger picture. It’s so easy to think, “I am way too important to be let go, they need me. I earned this job and deserve this job.”

It’s been proven over and over again that no one is indispensable. No one.

It is up to us to take care of ourselves, not our employer. It is up to us to be highly competent, motivated, energetic and excel at what we do.

Famous college football coach Woody Hayes (1913-1987) once said, “I've had smarter people around me all my life, but I haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good. That's just the way it is. And if you believe that and live by it, you'd be surprised at how much fun you can have.”

I believe we’ll find if no one outworks us, and we always strive to be highly competent, motivated, energetic and excel at what we do while paying close attention to our surroundings, we’ll never be out of work.

And if you believe that and live by it, you'd be surprised at how much fun you can have.

Steve Roush is Vice President, Content Channels and in charge of the International Desk at Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at steve.roush@taii.com.

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