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Unsettled Times
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Thinking back over the decades, I can't hardly think of a time in the pulp and paper industry that was more unsettled than now.

Whether it is the direction the industry is going, pricing, business solvency, or regulations, both domestically and abroad, suddenly it feels like everything is in turmoil.

There are a lot of small mills shutting down. So many, that this seems like the last gasp for mills nearing or surpassing the century mark. When I started in this business, they were fifty years old; now they are one hundred and their age is showing.

Material choices are in turmoil. Laura came home the other day with a six pack of toilet tissue wrapped in paper, not plastic. Haven't seen this since the early 1960's. The same statement can be made in many other corners of the business and in most areas, they favor us.

US and European regulations seem to be diverging, which will cause international players much grief.

Then there is the matter of energy sources. Despite many proponents and opponents arguing this subject is settled, I don't think so. I predict many billions will be wasted before there is a settled answer here. My recommendation is unless your government or your customers are demanding change, go slow.

It is not a time to come to rapid conclusions. Study the tea leaves, then study them again.

Jim Thompson is CEO of Paperitalo Publications.



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


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