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Interview with Robert (Bob) Carroll, August 28, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Robert (Bob) Carroll, August 28, 2002
August 28, 2002
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Carroll, Robert (Bob) Interviewer:  Zarbock, Paul Date of Interview:  8/28/2002 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length  42 minutes


Zarbock: Good afternoon. My name is Paul Zarbock, a staff member of UNCW’s library. Today is the 28th of August in the year 2002. We’re going to interview Mr. Bob Carroll who is the purchasing manager here at the International Paper Mill, Riegelwood, North Carolina. In addition to Mr. Carroll, we have our long-time friend and associate, the Director of the North Carolina Museum of Forestry, Mr. Harry Warren.

Zarbock: Mr. Carroll, how did you start out in a pathway of life ending up in this particular industry? What events took place?

Carroll: Well it goes back I guess to when I got out of college. I graduated from Marist College in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration being the major concentration. At the same time in our lives, I guess we all remember, they had the Arab oil embargo and I was very hard pressed to find a job at that particular time.

So here I was, staffed with a Bachelor of Science degree and couldn’t find a job. During the time I was in college, I had the opportunity to work part-time in a summer program with Nabisco in Beacon, New York, at their printing and carton plant where I was able to put stock on the floor and do different things as part of that program.

I got out of school and couldn’t find an opportunity available to me after several interviews and going to different companies, I went back to Nabisco and they found an opening for me as a stock handler on the floor and a lift truck operator. So I went back to Nabisco, spent some time on the floor as a stock handler handling stock for the printing presses and the cutting creasing presses and learned a little bit about the folding carton industry which is I guess you might say that was a converting operation for what we make today in this particular facility.

From there, they recognized that I had a college degree and they put me in a management training program which is a very intensive program with Nabisco that takes about two or three years at the time. Those people that went through that program generally wound up in very high level positions in the company. So I got into that program, progressed through the program and when my time was finished, I wound up back at that facility as the purchasing manager, personnel agent.

I proceeded to do the duties of that job and go from there. As time went on, I’m not sure of all the particular dates, but if anybody checks out the history of Nabisco, they’ll find out that Nabisco merged with Standard Brands. Standard Brands I think was then taken over by another company and there were a series of acquisitions there which are kind of a blur now because it happened so fast. During that time period, I managed to stay with the company and keep my employment continuing forward.

In 1985 I believe it was, the folding carton business for Nabisco and Nabisco brands was sold to Federal Paperboard Company and my plant was turned over to them and I continued to maintain my position. I also continued to acquire additional experience there because they also made me production plant manager for a while in addition to doing the personnel and purchasing duties for that facility. That was approximately 300 person employee operation at the time so it was a pretty intensive job and I got to learn a lot.

Subsequently in 1989 thereabouts, our supply agreement with Nabisco ran out and economic positions as they were and the way we did the operations in that particular facility, we were not able to continue operating and the plant had to be shut down. So one of the last things I did as the personnel manager was to try to place everybody out of the facility by helping them find other jobs and turn the key to the facility as I walked out the door.

Zarbock: You turned off the lights.

Carroll: Basically I turned off the lights. There was only one person left there after I left and he was a fireman who just stayed there to make sure the boiler kept the place warm in the wintertime.

Zarbock: Did you find a job for yourself?

Carroll: At that particular time the Federal Paperboard said they would continue looking for something for me and as I was getting ready I guess to go to the unemployment lines, an opportunity became available at the Riegelwood Mill in Riegelwood, North Carolina at which point I came down here immediately after they told me there was an interview. I got on an airplane.

I came down here, interviewed and fortunately for me the skills I developed during my career, the personnel skills, the purchasing skills, you know, the hiring and the firing, the union stuff that I did, the production planning, the public relations work, you know, the safety work I did in my position at a small plant gave me a very varied, wide range of skills so when I came down here and interviewed for the position, they felt that I was the person that they wanted because they could kind of use me as a shortstop for a while any place they needed me.

So the opening that was available for me at the time was an opening for a public relations manager for Federal Paperboard Company. They came down here, did the interview. I got on a plane, went back home and waited a couple of weeks and it was just about 10 days before Christmas, they called me up and told me they had an offer for me. I accepted the offer and started work down here on January 3, 1991.

From that point, I did public relations work down here for a little while, did a full mill video, did some television commercials, did some radio spots, did publications for the company down here as well as some of the other Federal facilities that we still had on board. From that particular position, I then went on to do some additional work in HR as openings occurred. They were looking for people, like I said, put me in as a shortstop occurred to fill in those gaps.

Somewhere in 1994-5, I went into the purchasing department as a buyer and in 1996, I became purchasing manager. I’ve been doing that job ever since. I believe it was also around 1996 that we merged from Federal to IP and I continued to keep the same position and I hold it today so I guess you might say I’m a merger man.

I’ve been through numerous mergers, never lost my first day of service, but I attribute that primarily to the skills I developed as I went along because it’s so easy to be displaced sometimes when you go through a merger. If you don’t have the right skills and your skills aren’t needed, you know, sometimes you’ll find the doorway before it’s all over with. I believe because of my skills and the fact that I had so much longevity and was able to make the change very, very quickly, that I’m still around today and have not lost my first day of service.

Zarbock: What does a purchasing manager do?

Carroll: The purchasing manager at this facility is responsible for procurement of all raw materials, all operating materials, all MRO. Basically we make sure that the mill has everything it needs to keep running. One thing we do not purchase because we have a separate division that does that is the…we do not purchase the wood fiber, that’s done by a logging fiber supply group, but everything else basically we purchase.

Now it’s more complicated than that because we also have corporate structure and our corporate purchasing department is centralized. So we have buyers in Memphis who handle raw material purchases and we have people, buyers in Cincinnati or Loveland, technology center who handle some of the large MRO items. They develop what they call corporate purchasing agreements and then we’re supposed to go out and make sure we buy our products with the corporate purchasing agreement.

So we’re kind of like a gatekeeper. We make sure that all the things that we buy follow corporate purchasing policy. We also make sure that we follow up with the vendors, take care of invoicing problems, do SAP. Basically all of the local contract of services that’s done, you know, all the repair jobs is usually bid out to the mills and we oversee that corporate purchasing policy is followed.

INTERVIEWER 2: Bob, I want to get back and get a little more personal information on you and then come back to some of the questions that Paul was asking and get some more detail of those. Where were you born and raised?

Carroll: I was born in Beacon, New York, May 6, 1951, and that’s where I was raised. I spent a little bit of time in upper New York state when my father got a job at one point, but the better part of my life, I spent in the Hudson Valley area.

INTERVIEWER 2: Anybody in your family associated with paper making or forestry or anything that’s related to what you’re doing?

Carroll: No, I’m the only one that’s in this industry from my family.

INTERVIEWER 2: And you kind of got into it through the merger route you were saying, to being with Nabisco’s carton making facility. That’s similar to papermaking. I mean there’s some similarities there, is that right?

Carroll: Well there is in a way. What the carton plant was was a converting facility. The board that we make here at this facility either goes to the printer to be printed or it goes to…if it’s a food container board, it will go to a packaging company who will take that board and convert it into a folding carton or a packaging material. The Nabisco plant I worked at was that, it was a converting facility. So what it did is it took the materials that you get from a facility like this and turn them into products that you get on your consumer table at home.

As an example if you’ve ever bought Wheat Thins or Triskets or any of those style crackers, they would have started in a facility like this as the board was being made, but the converting would have been done at a facility like where I started. That’s what we did there.

INTERVIEWER 2: So Nabisco, you just purchased the raw material, whatever weight board that you needed to make whatever packages and you all finished them off with the graphics and whatever.

Carroll: That’s correct. At the time the board we used is what we call recycled paperboard which now today is a little bit different. There are still recycle board plants out there, but the plant we purchase 90% of our board from was a plant in Sprague, Connecticut, which made recycled board for Federal Paperboard Company. So Nabisco was using recycled board at the time, buying it from Federal Paperboard Company who supplied our plant and we had a very close relationship with them so it worked out very beneficial for us.

INTERVIEWER 2: So the transition to Federal really wasn’t that difficult. I mean you had some experience not only with the company, but also working with paper.

Carroll: That’s correct. The transition was fine because I was doing the same job I was before. The key was turned so to speak or the contract was signed. We just had the people directing us and we were somewhat familiar because we used to interact with the Federal people all the time from our operation.

INTERVIEWER 2: You moved here in 1991. You said you actually started in January of 1991 here at the Riegelwood plant working for Federal Paper?

Carroll: That’s correct.

INTERVIEWER 2: And they started you as…we were talking to Erin Sheehan. She’s the communications manager now. You used a different title, but I think it was basically the same sort of job. Were you actually called the public relations person or were you the communications person?

Carroll: The position at Federal at the time when I came down here was what they called the public relations manager for that company, but basically I did some of the same things that Erin is doing today. I believe there’s a few things that she’s involved in with IP with the foundations and the grants that we didn't have as far as Federal was concerned. What we did in that position, we interacted with the community.

I became pretty active in the community, got to know a lot of people, give out donations, you know, attended functions. Again in addition to doing some of the advertising as we did. We basically tried to do the same thing. The communication part was two-fold. One fold was to do internal communications so that our employees knew what was going on which I did a newsletter about two or three times a week to bring up different things that were happening in the mill.

The second part was to interact with the community so the community knew what was going on at Federal Paperboard at the time. It was kind of a two-fold thing, but our main focus in my particular position, a large part of my time was spent trying to foster employee communication at the mill so the employees knew what was going on.

INTERVIEWER 2: I got that from her, that internal communications is a large part of the job, of the communications officer or the public relations person. You said you did three newsletters a week at one time. What other tools did you use? Tell us about the newsletter.

Carroll: Well Federal had a newsletter that I was doing before I came down here. When I came here, my manager at the time wanted to make a little bit of change to that. He wanted me to do something a little more frequently. It was not a big lengthy communication. It was something I did on the PC and just posted it on the bulletin boards and put it out. We didn't have some of the tools we have today, the IP T.V. It was more like you posted it on the bulletin boards and pass it out to the people.

We also did a quarterly magazine which we used to put together. We used to give a synopsis of the history and what we’re doing and things that were happening at the time. We had that before I came down here, but we changed the format when I came down here and made it more, like a magazine you get at home style. It would usually run about 16 pages. We put health care benefit information in there and charts and graphs and stories written by different departments about what was going on.

I was quite proud of the publication end because I do some real neat covers. We even entered some of them in those printing contests. They didn't make it, but I did all my own photography so I was kind of proud of it and we had to put them together. We had some really neat publications.

INTERVIEWER 2: So you’re the plant photographer also basically?

Carroll: I’m not now, I was at the time. I found that rather than hiring somebody to come in and do that, photography was my hobby so I talked my boss into buying me a real nice fancy Cannon camera with a backdrop and I took portraits of people for their newspaper and their listing in the newsletter or magazine. I also used that all the time out in the mill to take pictures around the mill.

I take pictures of new construction and things that are happening. I enjoyed that part of my job, getting a chance to meet the people and take pictures. In fact I think for a while there, we never had a retirement party, they had a little drop-in when somebody retires and I don’t think they had one without inviting me to make sure I came there to take pictures. It was kind of neat.

When we had children’s Christmas parties which we had for a while and employee gatherings and get togethers, I would then take a lot of pictures of everybody and we’d go back and put together a little collage of pictures of things that took place that day so people could spot themselves in them. We had a lot of fun. We did a good job with it and we had the money available to do it so it was a really good piece and I really enjoyed it.

INTERVIEWER 2: You said there were employee birthday parties did you say? Christmas parties?

Carroll: We had a Christmas party for the children which we used to have here on the front lawn.

INTERVIEWER 2: For the employees.

Carroll: For the employees’ children, right and grand-children so to speak and we had a tent, and Santa Claus would come and pass out gifts and all that kind of stuff. We used to have employee, whenever an employee would retire, it was customary that that department would set aside a time and let everybody know they were going to have this drop-in. If you had a few moments, you could drop in and wish them luck. And hope they had a good time with retirement and sometimes give a gift from the department.

Again I was always invited to those to be a guest and do a documentary type of thing of that person, take some pictures. I did that as often as I could. I would make duplicate prints because you could give a copy of the prints to the retiree as sort of a keepsake.

INTERVIEWER 2: I bet that made them feel good. It made it feel like a real close-knit family.

Carroll: I think it did. I think they enjoyed it. I enjoyed going. That’s one way of, you get to know them a little bit closer than you do just passing them in the hallways and in the plant and things.

INTERVIEWER 2: Were there any other things that you did during those days like Christmas parties for employees’ children and grand-children and retirement parties? Do you still do retirement parties now? Now you wouldn’t in your position, but does the plant still do retirement parties?

Carroll: Well the departments still do drop-ins, yet. We have people who have left because of the mergers and so forth and the changing, the downsizing. Things take place and people take early retirement packages. There’s a lot of departments that still have the drop-ins, we kind of advertise and put out a few things and you just drop in and wish them luck.

INTERVIEWER 2: What were some of the main challenges, media challenges that you had when you were doing public relations when you first came here?

Carroll: I think one of the biggest ones, well getting that newspaper, that weekly newsletter up and running was pretty challenging because you had to develop your contacts in the mill and you had to work with them and you had to develop meaningful stuff to print or nobody would read it. You know, I bought some graphic programs and you spend a lot of time. You’ve got to put the time line in there.

You’ve got to look at 1990 versus what we’ve got today which is 10-12 years later. I mean there’s a big difference in the technology available to me in 1990 than there is today. You know I didn't have a laptop then. All we had was a basic personal computer that with some graphics I bought which is nowhere near the ones you get today. And we had to print it out here. And printers weren’t like they are today. You didn't have as many bubble jet or ink jet printers. You just had the straight online printer.

So we did what we could with it and spruced it up and made it look as presentable as we could. You know, I would put little icons in there to kind of draw people’s attention to the different stories and articles. We would put drop-ins in there that people were going to have. One of the challenges was to develop the network that you needed to have to get the news that you need in order to be able to get out to the folks.

Of course everything was always subject to editing by my boss, but he was pretty good. He generally didn't cut anything out. That was one challenge. The other challenge was doing the magazine, the first time I ever did a publication in color with as many pages and much graphics as required and as expensive as the magazine was, the challenge was to keep the cost down, but yet get a real nice looking piece. We were able to accomplish both of those.

We worked with a good company in town. They helped me do some layout work and I did photography. I think the combination of them and me, we were able to do a good job with that. I’ve still got copies of those and I’m very proud of the work I did. It was a challenge, it was fun. It was a new learning experience that I enjoyed.

But coming into the printing industry from the carton side, there were a lot of things I already knew about printing and offset printing and those kind of things. So while it was a new experience for me, the printing side I had down pretty well pat. From the printing plant I came from, we used to make our own plates, our own separations and I knew how to take a job from just a concept all the way through to having a proof on press.

So that part was easy for me. The hard part was learning the layouts and that kind of stuff, making sure I could keep it in the budget. So those were a couple of the challenges I had in that area. Probably the biggest one I had all of them was the making of a video of the mill operations that we used for customers and educational purposes outside the mill. I had to work with a company from Wilmington who I contracted with out of the movie studios.

INTERVIEWER 2: Do you remember the company’s name?

Carroll: I do not remember. No, Francine DeCorso I know was involved with, Mike Freese, but I can’t remember the name of the company. I think it was Telemedia group, Telemedia Communications. I got together with them and we developed a budget. We developed a script. It was the first time I did a script of that nature. Then we decided the shots we were going to take, how we were going to take them, when we were going to take them, who was going to be in them.

When they came out, we started doing the footage. We shot for probably better than a week at least, come out at various times and try to get the right sunset the right way and all that information. We had to go out in the woodlands and take some pictures of the woodlands. It was really kind of neat to watch how you can take all those bits and pieces of film and when you’re all finished, getting them into a concise edited version and have a real nice piece at the end of it.

We hired local talent at the time. He used to work at WWAU, Dan Hester. He was a news guy and we hired him as a voice-over on that particular piece. He presented himself and spoke and he did the narrative. They showed me how to edit it and put it together and we had a finished piece.

It went really very, very well. It was quite an expensive project. It was also a very difficult one, but it was one that I learned a lot about the media business. So that was probably, in the short time that I was public relations manager, what I would consider one of the toughest projects.

INTERVIEWER 2: I imagine that was quite a challenge. Was that 1992 or ’93 that you did that?

Carroll: I believe that was in 1992 because the first year I was just getting my feet wet.

INTERVIEWER 2: Does a copy still exist?

Carroll: That I do not know. I’m not sure it does. It had so many references to Federal Paper that…

INTERVIEWER 2: That would be a great archival piece.

Carroll: I don’t know if there’s a copy around or not. Erin might know. But I don’t.

INTERVIEWER 2: Well we’ll have to look for that. That would be some research to do in that area.

Carroll: At the time we were doing an expansion of the mill and you know we got some new pictures. We had to be very careful that we didn't give out any trade secrets. It was a nice piece and I think it went over very well. In fact, we had quite a few copies made so there could be one floating around someplace. But I’ve been away from that part of the job for so long, I wouldn’t be able to tell you where they’re at or if there is any.

INTERVIEWER 2: That would be great, I’d love to have a copy of that for the forestry museum. Now you moved from doing communications and public relations to human resources, personnel?

Carroll: Well the public relations manager job was a part of the HR Department. My boss was the HR manager.

INTERVIEWER 2: Oh really. Now that’s not the way it is now is it?

Carroll: No it’s not.

INTERVIEWER 2: I mean you’ve got some really separate departments. That’s a significant change in the administration of the plant I would say.

Carroll: I reported directly to the manager of HR when I was in that position. I don’t think that’s what they do now. I think the communication manager, the mill manager…and of course we didn't have a whole lot of corporate oversight then because we were a corporation down here so we didn't have to go back to other folks with things we were doing. We just made decisions here and went ahead and did them and funded them that way except for our corporate office’s mot bill and then Mr. Kennedy and his group had to sign off, but that would be done through the middle manager.

INTERVIEWER 2: Let’s talk a little bit if you don’t mind about the way things were when Federal was operating the mill as opposed to International Paper corporate offices. You just touched on one of the big differences or now in Memphis, but when Federal ran the plant, it was all right here, is that true or was Federal spread out also?

Carroll: Well Federal, to the most part, the mill did a lot more things locally than…well they do everything locally now. I guess the best way to describe it is some of the decisions that were made were made more at a local level than they were at a corporate level. But with any company, any structure that you have, you have checks and balances throughout the system. So depending upon the spending limit, you would determine who you had to go through for approval.

Federal was no different than International Paper. Depending upon your approval level, you had to go see somebody in order to make sure you had approval spending. On the materials needed for the plant as far as purchasing was concerned, most of those decisions were made at a local level because we were buying for this plant.

But there were also some situations where between our plant in Augusta, our plant here at Riegelwood and our plant in Sprague, Connecticut, that we would get together and have meetings and discuss perhaps machine clothing or buying latex or buying starch or some of those types of things that we would try to develop some agreements amongst ourselves and have bidders come in and use our leverage between the three mills to get the prices as best we could.

We had some of that and then a lot of it was just done here at a local level whereas in the current structure there is again, as with any company, there’s approval levels based on the project and what kind of project it is and who’s involved in it as to how high you’ve got to go. IP has a very defined structure for approval levels in buying and purchasing in both capital and non-capital repair jobs. Basically the concept is the same, it’s just that levels are different because Federal was a much smaller company than International Paper is. That’s why they require National Paper.

INTERVIEWER 2: They had three mills, Federal did, Connecticut, Georgia and here in North Carolina?

Carroll: That’s right.

INTERVIEWER 2: Was there a corporate office that oversaw all three mills or how was that structured?

Carroll: Well they also have about 10 folding carton plants I think or quite a few folding carton plants. I know they had one where I was at which closed down. They have one in Hendersonville, North Carolina, I think Thomas, Georgia. They had one up in Durham, North Carolina at the time. So Federal had a number of locations. They had the one here on 23rd Street. So they had a number of folding carton plants as well as the paper mills. The three paper mills were the three that I remember since I was there.

INTERVIEWER 2: Was there a central office though that oversaw all of this?

Carroll: There were corporate offices in Montville, New Jersey which again the mill managers had a lot of authority and autonomy, but again depending on the amount of money they were going to spend, they had to go to their boss who generally was located in Montville because they traveled around a lot.

Mr. Kennedy and his crew and some of the folks that were out of Montville, you know, they would have to approve certain expenditures. Of course, I’m sure that a lot of things we weren’t privy to that the mill managers discussed with them as far as making sure that there was authority to do certain kinds of things.

INTERVIEWER 2: Do you remember how many people were here when you started here at Riegelwood?

Carroll: I believe when I started, there were about 1200.

INTERVIEWER 2: Was the operation different than it is now? But basically you’re doing the same thing, is that correct?

Carroll: Basically we’re doing the same thing. There’s been some changes in equipment. They made some positive changes to improve the equipment, make it better, to increase productivity and reduce manpower. So there’s been changes as we’ve gone along as every company has experienced which were necessary to remain competitive at that time and to go forward.

But basically the end product is the same today as it was then with a few changes. We may have made one grave, now another facility, what they call grave rationalization, but basically there’s no change in what we’re making. It’s just the machines we’re making it on. Some of the mills may be making something we used to make and we might be making something they used to make. Better operation.

INTERVIEWER 2: Basically you’re making the same product in a more efficient manner.

Carroll: I’d say that would be correct.

INTERVIEWER 2: Now you’ve evolved into being the purchasing agent. You went from public relations, human resources, to being the purchasing agent for the mill here. I believe you mentioned earlier that you purchase everything except fiber material.

Carroll: That would be correct.

INTERVIEWER 2: Now what, the fiber material, is that logs?

Carroll: That’s the logs and chips, yes. We have a group, a logging fiber supply and that’s there responsibility. They control the forest lands and the harvesting of the lumber and the procurement of the chips. They have the contacts for that. So they handle all the logging trucks and the railroad cars of chips and where they get the chips and the cars. They control logistics and purchasing of all that. The purchasing department controls basically just about everything other than that. But again the control is not only at the local level, but there are also a lot of things done at the corporate level because of the centralization of purchasing for International Paper.

INTERVIEWER 2: What are some of the things that you purchase besides just office supplies? I mean what are some of the main items that the plant needs to operate besides the fiber itself?

Carroll: We purchase various operating materials, latex, the starches, the different ingredients that go into the paperboard, the clays, the materials that we use to cook the wood pulp, the caustic and sulfuric acid and all the different components that go from the cooking cycle all the way through. We purchase all them, but basically we purchase them under an agreement that was prepared by…our corporate offices use the leverage of all IP to work with the vendors and then we have input from a local level with the buyer making sure that we have some say over the vendors and what our allocation is and those kinds of logistical things.

Because of the way IP is set up with central purchasing, a lot of the raw materials, the significant ones that result in a lot of money that are expended every year, they try to use the leverage of the company to get the best prices from the vendors. So there’s a lot of activity at the corporate level in telling us, you know, qualifying vendors and getting vendors’ pricing, but there’s also activity at the local level making sure we interface with them so that we can make sure operations people get the materials that they need from the vendors they want. It’s kind of like I guess cooking soup. You want to make sure you put all the right ingredients in it. At the end, we get the paper out from the other end.

INTERVIEWER 2: In the 11 years, almost 12 years that you’ve been here, I imagine you’ve known quite a few folks at the Riegelwood plant that have been here a long time.

Any interesting characters that you’ve met that you can share with us? Any stories?

Carroll: No, I don’t have any stories. I’m afraid if I told some stories, it might come back to haunt me (laughter). I don’t have any good stories to tell. I think all the people that worked here were hard, dedicated, good working people. They all came to work every day to do a good job and they gave it their best effort to make sure that the mill ran well.

We all have our own peculiarities in doing certain things a certain way, but I think for the most part my experience at Riegelwood has been that it’s like one big family out there. We all look out for each other and try to do the best job we can.

INTERVIEWER 2: That seems to be maintained throughout the entire history of this plant.

Carroll: It has and again a lot of folks were here long before I was here when it was Riegel Paper and then I think Federal took it over in 1972. It’s always been a good group of folks. They all work hard and mean to do a good job when they come in here. I think the economic times and the way that the world had progressed and corporations have progressed, there’s been a lot of pressures on the workers to be more productive and change the way they do things and change their thinking because the old way is not necessarily the best way.

You’ve got to be able to make that transition and do those changes or you get left behind. I think this mill has done a good job of that. I think we’ve always risen to the occasion and I think we’ll continue to do that. There’s a good work force out there.

INTERVIEWER 2: What would you say are some of the challenges that face the paper industry?

Carroll: That’s a tough one. I think the biggest challenge that we’re going through now is the world market. Now that the world has opened up and you have some of the third world countries producing paperboard and paperboard products competitively and more competitively than we are in this country, I think it has had and is going to continue to have a major impact on how this industry goes.

You can just see over the last couple of years the consolidation of the industry. You know, International Paper first absorbing Federal Paper and then absorbing the biggest _____ and Champion, the big mergers there, the big mergers of _______(Stayco), if you just pay attention to the industry and look across, you see the consolidations. You see the way the companies are now starting to look at production facilities and what they’re manufacturing and not building inventories, it’s a lot tougher now than it was before and I think it’s going to continue to get that way.

I think that a lot of the environmental rules that they have in this country, I think are good, but I think a lot of money is spent, you know, on environmental stuff and I’m not saying that’s bad. I think that’s good, but what I’m saying is a lot of your third world countries, I guess if I was going to put it in a history context, they’re going through our industrial revolution.

They’re finding out that hey, we can do these things, we can make these products and we’re not going to worry about some of these rules and laws that some of these other countries have and they’re making this material and they’re making it less expensively than we are. We’ve got to rise to the challenge and one way to do that is to improve your productivity and get your cost down.

So I think that’s, from my perspective, and without doing a lot of research on it, but just paying a lot of attention to what goes on, that’s what I think has happened. As we the world shrinks as they say, even though it’s the same size, as the boundaries become lesser and trade barriers open up, I believe it’s creating some real challenges for our business. I think not only in this country, but in other countries as well, that that is true.

I think that this is a good industry, I like it. It’s one of the last real good paying industries I think is still in this country. I hope that it continues. I think a lot of people can make a good living in this industry.

INTERVIEWER 2: You touched on environmental issues. When you were doing… many of them of course are in the forefront nowadays. You’ve got a lot of different groups out there touting one cause or another. Was that a prevalent when you were doing pubic relations back in ’91?

Carroll: It was. I think that we had…you know, there’s been a series of federal laws that have come along and they continue to tighten up and tighten up and tighten up. I think some of the things they did in the late 80’s and moved over into the 90’s and they tightened them up and the 90’s tightened up a little bit more, I think the more we find better ways of detecting and measuring and doing things and we’re all concerned that we do the right thing that it gets tougher and tougher.

I think it’s going to get tougher. But I do believe that every time the American industry has risen to the occasion. I don’t think anybody intentionally goes out with the purpose to pollute or break environmental laws. To think that would be for me to sit here and say I think my grandmother and grandfather back there many years ago did that on purpose because they wanted to hurt me later in life. I don’t think that’s the case.

I think what happens is as we become more in tune with our environment, which is good, we need to do that, I think as we move forward and the levels of our ability to be able to test and detect and measure the things we find are polluting our environment, we toughen the laws which is what we should do and get those things under control. You look at some of the things that happen today and they’re not sure what to blame them on.

Is the drought the result of global warming, the glaciers melting, I mean what’s causing all that. I don’t think it’s our industry. I think it’s the world as a whole and I think that as we go forward, the bar keeps getting raised. The industry keeps stepping up to the challenge and I think that’s what is important, is that we keep doing what’s right.

INTERVIEWER 2: Now back in ’91, they were just starting to raise the bar, weren’t they? Is that a fair statement?

Carroll: I really, I say it’s fair. I really don’t know. I would say that’s pretty accurate. I mean I remember starting out in ’73 in the carton plant, that you didn't have the hazardous waste laws that you have today as far as disposing of your hazardous waste. One of my jobs there was to remove hazardous waste, but at first it wasn’t an issue. As you move forward, it became tougher and tougher and tougher.

Even what we used to do with the ink, we had to change. At one time you could put in the landfill and then you couldn’t. You had to dispose of it in a different way. So again going back to ’73 when I first started and coming forward, you can see if you sit down with a time line and look at the law, you can see they continually got tougher and tougher and tougher. They tightened up so to speak. And where we are today, if you had spilled something environmentally today, there’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of manifests, making sure you put it in the right place and that’s the way it should be.

I think it’s just evolved. As we move along, each generation, I’m not that old but… as we move forward through this whole process, you can go back on a time line and you can see it just gets tighter all the time. It creates some challenges and it’s up to the American industry to overcome those challenges.

INTERVIEWER 2: It sounds to me, my next question I think you’ve already answered, but let me ask it anyway. If you had to do it all over again, would you do it? Would you choose the career path that you’ve chosen for your life?

Carroll: I guess I probably would. I’ve enjoyed my travel, my journey has been kind of nerve racking at times with the merger. When you’re in a position, you know, and they start bringing people through to divide an operation and you wonder who you’re going to be to. Sometimes they don’t give you enough information.

It gets a little bit nerve racking. I think there’s a lot of apprehension wondering as more mergers come, are you going to make the cut, what’s going to happen to you. So there’s a lot of anxiety out there. I don’t think I would change what I did. I enjoy what I do. I’ve met lots of people along the way. I had a good time.

I’m always very serious about my work which maybe if I loosened up a little bit, I’d have more fun along the way. I focus a lot on making sure I did a good job, but I believe that focus is what got me here today. Either that or I was just darn lucky cause I’ve been through three or four mergers and I’m still here and never lost a day seniority so I think that’s a good thing for me, but it also shows that there was some concern from the companies involved as they moved their people from one to the other that they didn't hurt them too badly and that’s what’s important.

Mergers are going to happen. Things are going to happen. Everybody can’t keep their job when you merge two together. It’s a tough choice, call to make sometimes. Who you are going to keep, who you aren’t going to keep, what’s going to happen, but what I can tell from the most part, even when I was affected, it seems the companies are trying to do the right thing.

Zarbock: Bob, are you familiar with the 80/20 analysis of the world?

Carroll: I’ve heard of it.

Zarbock: It started off as a joke with an Italian mathematician who said you can break the whole world down into 80/20. For example, 20% of the people are going to cause you 80% of the problems. Well focusing now on you and your current status as purchasing manager, I assume that 80% of the time, this is a mirth filled profession, what is the 20% that you really wish would look a little different? Where is 20% of your problem in the average working day as a purchasing manager? Where are the problems?

Carroll: That’s a difficult one. I think the biggest thing is communication. When you’re buying for a facility this size, it’s important that you make sure you can make the things that you’re doing, the folks that you’re buying stuff for, we have a very sophisticated repetition process here at the mill. When we get a requisition, we go out and purchase it, but there’s still a lot of follow-up involved.

There’s follow-up with the vendors, with the people that you’re buying it for. There’s follow-up to make sure it gets here and if you don’t communicate, if the vendor doesn’t communicate with us and we communicate with the folks out in the mill that we’re buying the material for, they get ready to run something and stuff they need is not there.

Zarbock: Could you give us a specific illustration of that? Anything come to mind?

Carroll: Well I don’t have one in mind right at this particular moment, but I can give you a hypothetical situation, okay. Say you’re on the paper machine and you’re running a coder blade you have to run for coder and you place an order with purchasing. You need a coder blade to keep running and you send the order to us and we get it and we go ahead and place it with the vendor. If I just walk away and say everything is fine, that they’re going to be delivered tomorrow like you asked, that’s great.

But what happens tomorrow and you need them and they’re not here. So you know something like that, you say you need it in a hurry, you’ve got to make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s. You’ve got to make sure you touch base with the vendor, that you let him know it’s an emergency, not a routine order and they need to ship it right away and you have to make arrangements for it.

Then you’ve got to go back and communicate to the people that you’re buying it from, hey you’ve got get this here tomorrow. We go ahead and make the arrangements. It’ll be here tomorrow, it’ll be here tomorrow UPS or Fedex, we’re going to fly it in or whatever the case may be. So at that point you figure your job is all done and everybody can go home and relax. Well you do.

The next morning you come in, you find out they missed a shipment. He didn't get it out like he said so it’s not going to be here. Well if you don’t go back and tell your operations people that, they’re expecting the blades to come in. They’re looking for them. Everybody’s running around scurrying like a squirrel trying to find a nut to put away for the wintertime. Where’s this material?

And lo and behold, it’s at the vendor’s and they’re not shipping. So you have to make sure when you come in the next day that UPS comes in or whatever, you’ve got somebody trying to stay on top of that and track it. So we make sure that that gets to the operation people because if they don’t get it and they needed that to go on coding, they’re not going to be able to do it.

Zarbock: Does it ever happen that the production people wait until it’s virtually a crisis before they request a purchase?

Carroll: That does happen. I don’t think they wait for the crisis. I think what happens is they get preoccupied with other things and don’t realize that they don’t have enough of that material. That’s what they’ve got us for, you know, to bail them out. We’ve done it on numerous occasions. They’ve come to me on a Saturday morning and said guess what, we don’t have enough material to get through the weekend and we’ll go out and get it for them.

We have what we call a weekend after hours book. If you do business with us, you have to be able to be accessed 24 hours a day. If you call me tonight at midnight, say we run out of clay tomorrow. They didn't spot the car or the stuff we have is bad, we need a truckload tomorrow or the next day after next, we’ll get on the phone that night and see what we can do to get some product here the next day.

Fortunately that doesn’t happen very often because we try to do a good job of communicating and watch our inventory levels and make sure we all have the right stuff. I have a super great staff that does a good job for me. But it happens from time to time.

Zarbock: But you hate to get a midnight telephone call.

Carroll: I hate it when the phone rings at night (laughter). When the phone rings at 3:00 in the morning, it’s never good news.

INTERVIEWER 2: Paul, do you have any more questions?

Zarbock: I’m fine, thank you.

INTERVIEWER 2: Well Bob, I think that that pretty much wraps up my questions also. Do you have anything you’d like to add.

Carroll: No, just again, it’s been a journey. It’s been an enjoyable journey. I’ve learned a lot and met good people along the way. If you sometimes stop and take a look back at where you started and where you’re at and the major milestones that happened in between and different things that happened to you, sometimes you wonder how in the hell you ever got here.

INTERVIEWER 2: Where’s your home now?

Carroll: My home is in Wilmington.

INTERVIEWER 2: So you commute, you’ve always done that since 1991.

Carroll: Yes, I’ve lived in Wilmington the whole time. Again it’s been an enjoyable journey. I don’t want to ever see it end really. I hope I can work for a long, long time and that we do a good job here for a long time so we’ll be able to continue to do that. It’s a good work force here. It’s a good operation, good people and these folks can rise to almost any challenge that’s put in front of them.

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