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Interview with Scott Grimes, August 28, 2002 | UNCW Archives and Special Collections Online Database

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Interview with Scott Grimes, August 28, 2002
August 28, 2002
An interview with Scott Grimes, plant manager of the International Paper Company's Reigelwood plant. Mr. Grimes discusses his own history of employment in the paper-making business, industry improvements of the past two decades, and the effect of globalization on forestry.
Phys. Desc:

Interviewee:  Grimes, Scott Interviewer:  Zarbock, Paul / Warren, Harry Date of Interview:  08/28/2002 Series:  Southeast North Carolina (SENC) Length  50 minutes


Zarbock: My name is Paul Zarbock, a staff member with UNCW working in the library. Today is the 28th of August in the year 2002 and we're at the plant of the International Paper Company here in Riegelwood, North Carolina. To the right is Mr. Harry Warren, director of the North Carolina Museum of Forestry, located in Whiteville, North Carolina. To our left is Mr. Scott Grimes, Mr. Grimes is the plant manager here at the International Paper Company's plant at Riegelwood. I'm going to start off asking the first question which is Mr. Grimes, how did a nice guy like you end up in a place like this? What led you into your position?

Grimes: Uh.. interesting question Paul, it really goes back uh.. about 35 years, having grown up in a small town called Plymouth, North Carolina, which you may be familiar with. Uh.. Weyerhaeuser Company has a large mill located in Plymouth, North Carolina and uh.. having grown up in that area uh.. obviously uh.. I grew up with children of- of parents who work out at the mill. And so I was use to the uh.. social aspects of- of people who worked in the mill. So you got to- got to know a little bit on the sidelines about what the mill was about and- and types of products they were making et cetera. but uh.. as I grew up uh.. I became interested in the engineering field and- and as it- as it went along uh.. North Carolina State University and Weyerhaeuser had somewhat of a partnership whereby uh.. there was a very specific curriculum directed at engineering in- in the paper industry, it was the Pulp and Paper Science in Technology curriculum. Where there was recruitment for the industry and- and having had that opportunity to uh.. go see the mill and- and talk to some of the staff at North Carolina State University uh.. I- I became very interested in the curriculum. And- and attended State, graduated and uh.. have been in the industry uh.. in various positions ever since the early 80's and uh.. it's- it's an incredible industry. Again I've been working in it professionally for about 20 years now and uh.. had a variety of different positions from entry level engineering positions to supervisory positions, where I was managing certain areas within a paper mill but uh.. that has been the stair step or spring board to take me to the position I'm in today. Uh.. I have worked for uh.. three different companies's, Weyerhaeuser, Mead Corporation and International Paper and have been at the Riegelwood Mill for about three years now. So that's how I got here.

Warren: Uh.. Scott it says you were from the Plymouth area and uh.. you were born and raised in that--

Grimes: In that area.

Warren: --area uh.. mind if I ask you how old you are?

Grimes: Uh.. 42.

Warren: Forty two, young man.

Grimes: Yes.

Warren: Yeah, definitely young man. You said that NC State had uh.. a program or relationship with Weyerhaeuser in your area--

Grimes: Uhm.. uh..

Warren: Could you tell us a little bit more about that program? And this would have been in- in the late 70's, or early 80's?

Grimes: Right, and- and it's similar to what we also have with- with the university uh.. it's clearly a partnership whereby uh.. the industry and education come together to attract students uh.. so that they will have future leaders in- in the industry. Uh.. and it's a very focused uh.. engineering approach toward all, managing all the processes that we have-- that we would ever have in a facility like- like what we're in today. And uh.. Weyerhaeuser, years ago started a similar partnership with the university, International Paper uh.. in fact some of the company's that are now part of the International Paper family also did it, there's Champion uh.. _____________ as well. Uh.. so what- what uh.. the different company's as well as the university took advantage of was an opportunity to uh.. come in to the communities where prospective students might come from that were nearby these- these mills uh.. where they may have parents that- that worked in these facilities uh.. to- to expose them to some of the opportunities, uh.. both from educational standpoint and then subsequent to that the uh.. you know the work or career standpoint on- on the tail end of the educational opportunities. So it- it was- it was a uh.. you know mutual benefit, process that NC State as well the industry had and they-- it- it continues today.

Warren: Did they off uh.. jobs or internship uh.. type positions while people were uh.. going to state?

Grimes: Sure. In fact I worked at the mill at uh.. Plymouth for three summers uh.. in between school years. And so it was uh.. it was a very good process to encourage you to pursue first of all the educational opportunity and then also prepare you for a career in the paper industry. So I mean it was clearly a wonderful process and worked well for me and I think it continues to work for a number of students today.

Warren: And a lot of people in that area, northeastern North Carolina uh.. indeed are in forestry just like they are around here. Was your family uh.. an old forestry family? Had your father or grandfather been- been in the forestry?

Grimes: Not in the forestry industry, my father uh.. was more associated farming in eastern North Carolina. In fact he uh.. he worked in agricultural chemical sales for uh.. a number of years and then later uh.. operated a- a fertilizer ________ dealership for uh.. uh.. private owner and so we- we were more from a family standpoint and I mean too from the agricultural side but uh.. I mean we- we also had a number of family friends that were involved with- with timber or land ownership uh.. and- and in fact in that area many of them would sell much of their timber to Weyerhaeuser at the time when we were growing up. But uh.. obviously as you well know a lot of agricultural, a lot of forestry uh.. in- in this part of the state.

Warren: Uh.. do you remember any of the uh.. interesting characters from that region? We'll get back down to this region in a second, but I- I want to tap into- into your roots here a little bit, any interesting characters that were in the lumbering, logging or uh.. paper industry uh.. from that part of the state?

Grimes: Well- well certainly you know a lot of characters uh.. a lot of guys that you know were tough- tough folks, good business people uh.. but uh.. I guess what I always remember really hard working folks. Uh.. you know some of the- some of the friends that I had uh.. you know would- would help in the family business so to speak and- and it was quite often they- they put in long hours uh.. particularly on weekends. Uh.. but it was uh.. I- I guess uh.. a timeframe where I would characterize it by you know very dedicated people, very hard working and uh.. that's probably what I characterize it.

Warren: Now Weyerhaeuser do they have the same type of operation up there that uh.. International Paper does here in Columbus County of- of paper?

Grimes: They've got a large operating paper mill uh.. I- I believe they make different products than we make in this facility.

Warren: Different paper products? Do they do any lumbering also?

Grimes: Different paper products uh.. they use to have an operating uh.. plywood plant adjacent to the paper mill. I'm not-- to be honest I'm not sure if that's still operating today.

Warren: And you started your career with Weyerhaeuser I assume?

Grimes: Yes.

Warren: After- after connecting with them through state, graduated from NC State?

Grimes: Right.

Warren: Uh.. when did you graduate by the way?

Grimes: Initially- initially uh.. early 80's and came down to uh.. New Bern for a short step at- at uh.. that particular facility and they made pulp at that facility.

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: And I was there just shy of a year and then moved to uh.. Ohio went to work with Mead Corporation.

Warren: What corporation was that?

Grimes: Mead.

Warren: Mead, Mead Corporation?

Grimes: Paper.

Warren: And what-- another-- a paper company?

Grimes: Another paper company uh.. they have recently in the last year merged with uh.. what was formally Westvaco uh.. and they've become Mead Westvaco now but uh.. at that time it was Mead Corporation.

Warren: How long were you with them?

Grimes: About uh.. 12 years.

Warren: About 12 years, so the bulk of your career was at Mead until you came to us here in Columbus County with what? You were probably with International Paper before you came to Columbus County?

Grimes: I was, I came to work with uh.. IP at the end of the '93, first part of '94 down in Georgetown, South Carolina--

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: --worked at that facility. That was an operating paper mill as well uh.. had a short stint there and then moved up to Erie, Pennsylvania in my first tenure as a mill manager and uh.. managed the facility that we had up there for about three, three and a half years.

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: And came here at the latter part of 1999 and I've been here since.

Warren: Uh.. did you ask for this transfer? Did something about this area attract you since you'd been at the other end of it uh.. with Georgetown earlier?

Grimes: Well the op- the opportunity became available to me and uh.. I- I seized it, I mean uh.. clearly we've got a- a large operating mill here. Uh.. with- with challenges to improve in this global economy and this uh.. what has become a more competitive industry and I saw it as a great opportunity to help affect the change here that- that was needed. And- and also having an opportunity to call uh.. to come back to what I call home uh.. which is uh.. this area of- of the country uh.. couldn't pass up the opportunity.

Warren: Once a North Carolinian, always a North Carolinian.

Grimes: Absolutely.

Warren: Can't-- I mean I know you're from State but you do have Tar Heel in your blood not to be- not to be--

Grimes: Oh I understand and I do cherish it.

Warren: You've been in the uh.. paper making business for quite some time uh.. 20 years. How- how have things changed? I bet-- even in that span of time you've seen things changed a lot haven't you?

Grimes: It's changed dramatically I mean all from the- from the woods through our- through our mills. And you know you think about the uh.. the forester's practices of today compared to just 20 years ago and they're dramatically different. Uh.. we- we have evolved with dramatic improvements with forest and land stewardship uh.. so that we don't have a negative impact on the- on the forest lands so we are procuring _____________ any time, we do an incredible job as an industry. And I'm very proud of what we do as- as our company, International Paper, I would say we're one of the leaders in practicing sustainable forestry practices. And uh.. so you know it's changed in the woods and- and in our- in our operating mills there's been a lot of dramatic change in terms of how do we complete our work every day. Uh.. taking cost out, taking waste out so that we uh.. can- can maintain an operating margin uh.. our- our industry faces dramatic global competition. Uh.. we compete against areas-- regions in the world where labor costs are a fraction of what we have in the United States uh.. and in some cases we compete against fiber as an example eucalypti's in South America or Indonesia, which is a uh.. incredibly fast growing fiber resource. Uh.. as an example the- the trees grow to matur- maturity in seven years as compared to uh.. either our Southern loblolly or any- any particular fiber, be it soft wood or hard wood in North America. Where you're talking 25 plus years to- to reach maturity. Uh.. so you can imagine the- the uh.. difference in the fiber uh.. in the renewable characteristic, the quick renewable characteristic of a eucalyptus fiber compared to a uh.. North American loblolly pine and so there is a lot of pressure on cost and- and uh.. as well as quality. I mean everybody that we sell to-- all of our customer base uh.. the bar is raised constantly on quality and well it should be. But uh.. you have to make improvements in the plant and equipment as well as processes to adopt or adapt to the you know the raising of the bar and quality expectations. So uh.. we have large plant equipment, we have a lot of raw material that we process in a facility like this and you have to be on the top of your game to- to make sure that uh.. you're efficient in delivering that product that you make to the end use customer. So I mean and- and then the other aspects of it, the transportation uh.. costs, you know the cost of gasoline and- and all types of other transportations that continue to go up. Raw material costs have gone, uh.. it- it is a uh.. very competitive world out there. And as we say with globalization you know uh.. you know a Russian paper mill can think of the United States as being in it's own back yard and likewise we need to be thinking about Europe as being in our own back yard. Uh.. there are not as many deterrences to uh.. moving product from one region of the world to another import. So uh.. you've got to provide quality, you've got to provide service at a competitive price, otherwise uh.. it's tough to stay in the game.

Warren: You said eucalyptus tree in South America comes from the maturity or harvesting and maturity in seven years. Is that just because of the nature of that species?

Grimes: Yes, nature of the species.

Warren: But you're continuing to uh.. speed up the process with loblolly, are you all not continually to trying to- to make that more efficient?

Grimes: Sure, sure, I mean we have been for along time within our industry and not just exclusive to International Paper, but uh.. I think we've done a really good job in improving the- the I guess the growth pattern of all of our- all of our raw material. Uh.. but it- it's something that we have to continually improve, you know you hear a lot these days about the term continuous improvement--

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: --well it certainly applies to us, everything that we do. So that we can remain competitive.

Warren: How big of presence does International Paper have in North Carolina? I know uh.. you had a nursery over in Lumberton when you were producing millions of seedlings a year--

Grimes: Uhm.. uh..

Warren: --of course you have this uh.. plant and you ride around and see this timber maintained by International Paper. What else is out there in North Carolina to International Paper uh.. where- where they make their presence?

Grimes: Well we got uh.. operating paper mills uh.. in North Carolina. We've got uh.. uh.. liquid packaging plants in North Carolina. We've got a fairly large one in Raleigh. We've got uh.. distribution plants in- in North Carolina. You see the name Expodecs (ph?) uh.. we have-- they do a- a variety of distribution of- of products both paper products as well as other consumables uh.. for business and industry all over the state. Uhm.. that's- that's probably the majority of what we have in the state.

Warren: Do you have any idea how many people are employed by International Paper in North Carolina?

Grimes: Right now, uh.. about 4,000, roughly 4,000.

Warren: That's pretty impressive and then you've got facilities in South Carolina--

Grimes: Sure.

Warren: --we claim sometimes as being in the--

Grimes: We've got uh.. a number of facilities in South Carolina, Virginia, uh.. many along the eastern sea board down into the south.

Warren: Uhm.. uh.. is there a lot of good spirited competition between IP and Weyerhaeuser and Georgia Pacific. Are there any other of the big boys in- in the state?

Grimes: I would call it very good spirited competition uh.. no question about it uh.. I mean obviously you have to conduct your businesses under the law and which we all do. Uh.. but at the same time we have a very hardy uh.. competitive spirit amongst ourselves and uh.. and in many cases we are competing for the uh.. I guess the attractiveness of our customer. You know we- we want to make sure that our customer wants to specify International Paper products for the right reason.

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: We want to be that value added supplier to- to our- our customers. And- and again in some cases we- we make different products uh.. in different-- in nearby facilities. So it wouldn't be necessarily that a product made here will compete against the same product that's made up in Plymouth. And so you can have those differences, but uh.. because paper products I think sometimes we take for granted uh.. how many there are, there are so many diverse paper products that are used for a variety of applications and uh.. so there are a lot of different mills supporting all of those different products that we use. And I think sometimes we do take for granted that we know.

Warren: We have a small exhibit at the Forestry Museum that has this little sampling of some of the- of the ultimate end of some of the paper that you produce. And it goes from everything from a Harry Potter book to uh.. a McDonald's French fry container--

Grimes: Sure.

Warren: --and everything in between that you can imagine. I don't think people really realize how much paper is a part of their lives until they start really thinking about it.

Grimes: No question, no question about it. Every day uh.. uh.. I would say paper touches the lives of virtually everyone on a daily basis and sometimes we take it for granted, we don't even see it.

Warren: How many logging trucks, do you have any idea come in- come into this plant every day with- with a load of lumber?

Grimes: It's-- I believe it's no question it's hundreds and in some cases over 400 trucks per day.

Warren: It seems like I see them all over the area here, including the one that was in the ditch just a mile from here this morning.

Grimes: Right.

Warren: Uhm.. what kind of work force do you have here? You have good, Federal and Riegelwood always had a real reputation of having a uh.. uh.. just a great family type work force here?

Grimes: We've got a great work force here uh.. their well trained, obviously they're dedicated to this mill. They want this mill to be successful both now and in the future. Uh.. having the history that a mill like this has uh.. much like a mill up in Plymouth when you've been in existence for 50 years uhm.. you typically have a situation where- where uh.. employees want to have opportunities for their children to come along and if they so choose uh.. they'd like to have that opportunity to work in a facility like this in the future. And- and it creates uh.. a lot of ownership uh.. no question about it. I mean we have a lot of uh.. dedicated community members that are very interested in the uh.. the longevity of a facility like this. Uhm.. they want us to be good steward, uh.. they want us to be environmentally sound and we are. And- and again that's another reason why I'm very proud of our company though, we take great pride in being great stewards of- of the air, of the water uh.. as well as all of the raw- raw materials and natural resources that we use. Uh.. you know our- our community has high expectations that we continue to do that and uh.. uh.. we want to be an integral part of the community. So uh.. now between the employee base and the community base there's a- there's a lot of ownership for growing a facility like this. It wants to be successful.

Warren: Some of the foresters that I've interviewed in the last few months uhm.. I ask them a question, uh.. what's the biggest challenge facing forestry and I was surprised to hear a lot of the really old timers, uh.. double your age say uh.. getting our message out. Uh.. we've been a real poor job at public relations, which I think is changing.

Grimes: It is.

Warren: But they- they, you know, they indicate that people just don't understand us. Would you uh.. say that's true and elaborate on that a little bit?

Grimes: I- I would say in some cases it's true uh.. I think in some cases in this country uh.. industry in general is uh.. misunderstood uh.. because there- there are an incredible number of industries and companies all over these United States doing- doing a great job of being mindful of the environment while they are uh.. producing their products. And uh.. without question the forestry industry in general has- has uh.. taken it on the chin regarding the removal of trees and- and the supposed impact on the environment and- and uh.. the ozone layer.

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: But uh.. they, as well as we are coming together and showing the facts. People when they see the facts will- will understand that yes we've been misunderstood but on the flip side we are doing a good job of- of being good stewards and facts will prevail it.

Warren: Uh.. I have a feeling sometimes that forestry actually is kind of taking it on the chin for a lot of other uh.. deforestation that's going on, because it's easy to pinpoint the forest industry.

Grimes: Sure, that's true.

Warren: Just this morning I heard a report on NPR of a- of a paper company in Maine uh.. working in conjunction with the nature conservancy to buy huge- to- to-- the conservancy was actually taking on some of their debt and the only person in this uh.. interview that saw this as a negative thing were the real estate and developers and the town.

Grimes: Right.

Warren: The forestry people were fine with it, the paper mill people were great with it, the environmentalist were great with it.

Grimes: Right.

Warren: It was the developers that were having a problem with it.

Grimes: Uhm.. uh.. well one of the key issues uhm.. has been as we call it 'urban sprawl' in- in terms of the impact on deforestation. As opposed to our industry taking advantage of the raw material and- and not- and not replanting. And on the contrary, we do a very good job of reforesting, we do a great job of uh.. uh.. minimizing the impact on- on land and or the- the dated species that are given here. I mean we can give you countless examples of where uh.. wildlife have literally uh.. recovered or been to the point of thriving uh.. where we are affectively managering our forest plan. Uh.. we've just had incredible results so it- it is a matter of we need to get the facts out, we need to get the message to the people so that they can understand that we are a- we are a good neighbor and we are an integral part of the community. And in fact we can have a synergistic impact uh.. and literally we have in some cases seen dramatic improvement in the areas, the forest areas we- we have gone in to manage them. So uh.. it clearly is a matter of educating folks as to what we've been doing and what we continue to do to have a positive impact.

Warren: Uh.. yes, excuse me, I think it has been sort of misunderstood a little bit. What would you say is the biggest challenge facing uh.. today the forest, the paper industry would be misunderstanding?

Grimes: Uh.. I would say uh.. the biggest challenge we have is- is remaining competitive with the uh.. the cost pressures that we continue to have uh.. and- and versus some of the alternatives that there- there are out there that are coming from other locations in the world. Uh.. not to- not to parallel exactly the steel industry example, but uh.. it's very, very, very competitive uh.. around the world. And if you look at any given specific paper grade uh.. it- it really comes down to uh.. what is your cost position uh.. given another supplier of the same type of product and you've got to be in a position to either uh.. have it superior quality or service platform or you got to be able to uh.. well you- you clearly have to be able to provide value to a customer and- and you stay in business when you've got a lower cost position then a- then a competitor. And that is probably one of the major concerns that our industry would have moving into the future is- is maintaining a viable cost position uh.. while we are still satisfying the needs of our customer base around the world. Uh.. because costs across the board are going up uh.. raw material cost, energy cost, uh.. labor costs and- and if you compare labor cost in the US compared to many of the other uh.. developed nations uh.. uh.. labor costs are fractions of what we pay in- in the United States, not saying that's bad, that's just a fact that we've got to understand and- and deal with in our business.

Warren: Uh.. let's get back to the technology a little bit. Uhm.. I know you're very proud and have a very good safety record here--

Grimes: Yes.

Warren: --at International Paper uhm.. but there's still danger out there in the mill and I imagine that probably that the safety aspect or the consciousness about being safe has increased over the last 20 years. Could you comment about that a little bit?

Grimes: Well the focus on safety has been elevated dramatically over the last 20 years, it's- it's probably one of the first things we focus on. Anyone who comes in the gate uh.. we have the firm expectation that they are thinking about their own personal safety as well as the safety of their co-workers throughout the course of the day while they're here and that goes for everyone. This is not exclusive to the line worker that is out there literally working around or on the equipment, this is for everyone in the facility. And when we've got a constant safety focus, when we're looking out for each other uh.. that's when we have the opportunity to come in do a job well and then leave with uh.. all our fingers and toes intact and we're feeling good about what we accomplished and- and knowing that uh.. either ourselves or our co-workers are going to go home in one piece to their family tonight. I mean in an industrial setting like this you're going to have risks but we can minimize if not totally mitigate the risk and- and it really comes down to us working together. The team work that we have in this facility is incredible around uh.. performing our work on a safe-- you know in a safe manner and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Warren: What are some of the specific safety precautions that you take today on this is a matter of course like I would say wearing safety glasses that uh.. you wouldn't have seen 20 or 30 years ago?

Grimes: Sure. Uh.. some of the basic uh.. tenants are when you plan to do work uh.. you look at the activities that you're going to complete with an eye on safety, safe work procedures. So that you're not putting yourself at risk, clearly we've talked about it, wearing safety glasses, we call that personal protective equipment or PPE. Uh.. there is a vast array of PPE that is required to perform any given task in the mill that may not have been there 20 years ago, probably would not have been there 20 years ago. Uh.. in- in many cases if we have to work on a piece of equipment, let's say we have to affect a- a repair on a piece of equipment. We totally-- we call it lockout but we de-energize all of the operating equipment and- and literally lock it so that there is no possible way that it could be reenergized, started, moved uh.. because when you're going to have people working on that equipment you don't want any opportunity for that equipment to start moving and- and pinch somebody or- or literally hurt somebody's arm or break an arm or any other uh.. issue that could happen to someone on a machine. So we have very strong procedures toward we call it lockout and then lockout/tagout of taking the energy out of the equipment and- and then also in any job that we perform, there's a safe way of performing that task and then clearly in addition there are- there are defenses that you can have, we call it the PPU, that's safety glasses, those shields or gloves, very specific types of gloves that have cut resistance capability uh.. clothing, various types. It's dependant upon the applications of course but uh.. we- we have all types of deterrents that keep uh.. injuries from occurring. But the- the number one is that the focus on the-- from the employee--

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: --or the team.

Warren: Getting people to think safe?

Grimes: Absolutely and think about what they're doing.

Warren: You said people have a lot of training program, you have a video that visitors see but I imagine that if you're an employee you get a pretty intense program?

Grimes: Very intensive uh.. regarding training to qualify for their job, there's ongoing safety training. Uh.. we have, in fact in some respects we have computer based training for refreshing on the many of the operating procedures and policies or- or other information that they need to know to effectively conduct their job in a safe manner. But there is no question about it there's- there's monthly training, there's weekly training, in fact there's daily toolbox meeting, called toolbox meetings in other words the team will come together. Before they even go out on their jobs today we'll talk about like what are we going to accomplish today, how are we going to do that work in a safe manner.

Warren: That's a daily thing? Really, you wouldn't have seen that 25 years ago.

Grimes: Very unlikely.

Warren: Those people are really advanced in their thinking about it-- does this extend out into the field also?

Grimes: Yes.

Warren: And where does your uh.. do you get most of your uh.. trees from private contractors from your own tree farms or- or--

Grimes: It's a combination.

Warren: --or what?

Grimes: It's clearly a combination.

Warren: It's the private contractor, I mean that's where-- I mean they're in charge of their own safety and all. You don't have a lot of control over that or do they have certain criteria they have to meet to do business with IP?

Grimes: Yes, uh.. all of the uh.. loggers that work with us or for us have to uh.. complete a lot of the same rigorous safety training that we expect of our employees offsite. We hold them up to a- to a high expectation as well and uh.. when it comes down to their logging practices and the impact that could have on- on worker safety. Uh.. their PPE, their own personal protective gear that they use uh.. in fact when they come into the mill there's no-- a logger can't come into the mill without safety glasses on. He or she can't get out of their truck unless they've got the appropriate personal protective gear on.

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: So uh.. clearly we hold our loggers, in fact we wouldn't even sign a contract with them upfront without them recognizing what our expectations are for them to be uh.. a good steward if you will of their employee base.

Warren: And they comply I'm sure with--

Grimes: They do.

Warren: --if they want to do business with you.

Grimes: If they want to do business with us.

Warren: Now you mentioned a minute ago the magic 21st century word computer, now I know they're in every facet of our life. How have computers come into the paper making business?

Grimes: Well they-- they're clearly an integral part of our- our business uh.. they're at the heart of uh.. many of the control systems on our- on our major equipment. Our paper machines, our boiler operations uh.. our pulp mill operations, there's not an area in this mill that is not uh.. managed if you will with a control system that has computers at- at the core of it. And- and on the topside of that we also use computers for an incredible amount of data simulation. So-- and- and process management so that we can track and trend the performance of our- our processes so that we can uh.. take our variability in the process, I mean you get multiple benefits you- you become more efficient, more cost effective and you improve the quality of the product that you're making for your- your end use customers. And so uh.. the product that a customer orders today if he or she orders it six months from now they expect it to be the same uh.. and there's a lot of process improvement that has come with the uh.. applications of computers.

Warren: Quality control is easier with computers.

Grimes: Absolutely, quality control uh.. process control, cost control it all goes hand and hand.

Warren: Well you're just at the age where you have really seen this come about. I imagine when you started getting into forestry there were virtually-- computers really weren't part of the industry?

Grimes: No computers, uh.. I recall uh.. using a calculator at the end of high school and into college and uh.. by my junior year we started uh.. using-- well senior year actually using desktops and there were just a handful of those. I recall having to go over to uh.. one of the main buildings on campus and stay and running computer cards through this massive computer uh.. just to read them and process a given program. Uh.. those days are long gone.

Warren: Has it been an easy transition into the computer age for the forest industry and for paper making in particular? I mean there are few Neanderthals around like me who still you know work around a computer more than they actually sit in front of it?

Grimes: Uh.. I would say it's been a relatively smooth transition clearly on the- on the paper manufacturing side of the business and I believe the foresters have adapted well also. Uh.. as an example I was with a number of uh.. foresters last week in fact and many of those gentlemen had laptop computers uh.. in front of them and they were presenting some data out of- out of their computer uh.. discussing how they are effectively managing their business on a variety of different tracks of timber and they are using the power of some of the programs to help them understand how to minimize cost or- or better manage their efficiency if you will. Uh.. and it's making a difference with them, no question about it.

Warren: I think forestry is still a- a viable career option for- for anybody uh.. male or female. And- and let me ask you that along- along those lines. Are there more women in forestry and paper making industry than there were 20 years ago?

Grimes: Incredible uh.. increase in the number of females and minorities in- in the industry and I think that's outstanding. Uh.. we've come a long way in that regard and I expect it to uh.. change in the future. We- we are very interested in a diversity of talent and uh.. there's-- it's going to be ongoing challenges and opportunities in the- in the timber industry, forestry industry as well as the paper industry. Uh.. I mean we were talking earlier about some of the fiber resources out there in the world that we compete against today. Uh.. I dare say there's going to be someone in high school today that may attend NC State University in the- in the forestry curriculum and come up with a new and different strain of a- of a particular fiber source that- that puts us on a more competitive position with uh.. the rest of the world. We need that ingenuity, we need that innovation uh.. to continue to be successful and that's why we continue to want to attract the bright young minds uh.. to our industry because there's plenty of opportunity left.

Warren: Uhm.. uh.. was there-- getting back to your involvement, I can't recall did you say was there any one thing that really-- your family's background is in agriculture, so what pushed you into forestry? What-- was there something attractive about just walking in the woods or- or the warehouse or operation, was there something that made something click in you about forestry?

Grimes: Well the vast diversity of a-- from the forest through the paper mill, the operating paper mill, there's just an incredible uh.. diversity of operations going on and there so interrelated and it takes team work and I've always loved team sports or team affairs--

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: --I've always felt like I was a people person and like to be involved with effective teams well it takes team work to be a-- to be successful in this business of- of taking trees from the forest and- and turning that into paper and pulp products. I mean we literally have in this- in this mill a fully operating power plant. Uh.. not unlike what you would see uh.. CP&L, uh.. we have accounting functions, we have plastic engineering functions, we have line functions, you know line operation functions, manufacturing functions that you can see in most any operating plant. Uh.. we have supervisory, managerial staff positions, we have-- I mean just such a vast array of different opportunities--

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: --and- and looking at an opportunity to apply engineering knowledge that I learned in school into such a vast array of opportunity uh.. just really intrigued me. And I guess that was the real hook uh.. I don't see how you can ever be bored working in an--

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: --operating mill like this, it's just exciting. Every day you come in there's something new and different to get uh.. hooked into, to make a difference in so and it- and it takes combined team work of a lot of people.

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: You take a mill like this with 850 plus people uh.. as employees here you've got to have good team work.

Warren: Uhm.. uh..

Grimes: So again, uh.. the attraction came with uh.. my ability to apply what I've learned and do that in a setting that has a bunch of great people coming together every single day to make something good happen in the world. That's- that was the real attraction for me.

Warren: You like pulling things together--

Grimes: Yes.

Warren: --I- I can tell.

Grimes: Yes.

Warren: And sort of making it your own family--

Grimes: Yes.

Warren: --it seems like uh.. excuse me, that's great, like any family though you've got a lot of concerns and uh.. what would be-- in coming in here I know you know you like doing something different every day, but what would be the one thing you would not want to come in and face uh.. what would be your biggest concern of something going wrong here? And God forbid it ever happening.

Grimes: Well you know the challenges of uh.. you know having a major safety issue or a major uh.. environmental impact issue or uh.. having to face uh.. closure of the mill for that matter. I mean those are the types of things that you don't ever want to face. We were talking about the measures we take to ensure the safety of our employees in this mill. You never want to face uh.. a fatality and you do all in your power to avoid those types of uh.. issues from ever occurring. Uh.. we've got large equipment, we use a lot of process chemicals. We don't ever want to have a release of those so we have uh.. incredible amounts of uh.. procedures and processes, redundancy in place to prevent and good management techniques basically to prevent releases of- of process chemicals. And we're well prepared in the event that we had a tank failure as an example uh.. heaven forbid we ever have anything like that. We've got good processes in place to prevent those types of things from happening but if they did we're able to respond to them. But that's not something that you want to have to deal with.

Warren: Right, absolutely.

Grimes: And- and I guess in- in the end uh.. you want to do all you can as an organization to remain competitive so that you can keep your mill operating.

Warren: The plant-- how many acres are-- do you have at this plant site?

Grimes: Two hundred, uh.. is it 1200?

Warren: Part of that is on the Cape Fear River?

Grimes: Yes, adjacent to the Cape Fear River.

Warren: How do you all utilize the river, if at all? I'm thinking in the old days when barges actually use to probably bring- bring logs off the Cape River, that doesn't go anymore does it?

Grimes: We don't uh.. bring any- any wood in by barge any longer. It's all by truck or rail uh.. we do have some oil that it comes up the river on- on a barge that we use in our process. Uh.. we use the- the river basically for processing water. We intake uh.. a considerable amount of water each day and then we deposit-- redeposit a lot of water each day.

Warren: And that goes through a repurification process?

Grimes: Yes, we've got uh.. a certified treatment process, we meet all- all environmental permit requirements for treatment and then subsequent discharge of our- of our water waste. And uh.. that's the predominant use of the river, I mean it's- it's water-- process water throughout the plant.

Warren: Now the river is in- the river is really quite important, when you say it's vital to--

Grimes: It's absolutely vital, we could not operate without the river.

Warren: And so this plant is here, I mean that's why the original Riegel plant was built here was because of the river?

Grimes: Yes.

Warren: Close in it's proximity to the river. I think you've already answered this question through your other answers, but uh.. Scott, if you had to do it all over again, would you do it all over again? Would you do this same career path? I mean would I be sitting here talking to you if we could get in the time machine and go back?

Grimes: It's been so much fun uh.. obviously there are- there are things along the way that you'd like to make better. Uh.. but in terms of changing it uh.. I've- I've had too much fun to say I'd want to go back and change it.

Warren: So you- you would choose the same career path that you did 20, 25 years ago?

Grimes: Yeah, and the same circumstances I would- I would have taken the same direction.

Warren: Excellent. Well I sure appreciate the opportunity to sit down and talk with you. Paul would you have any questions that you would like to- like to add?

Zarbock: Uh.. as I understand it your title is Plant Manager?

Grimes: Mill Manager.

Zarbock: So the buck- the buck stops with you-- frequently stops with you is that correct?

Grimes: At this mill yes.

Zarbock: Off camera before we- before we began the taping session you mentioned that you-- your academic work was in chemical engineering?

Grimes: Yes.

Zarbock: But during this interview you were talking about being a people person, well were you a people person that ended up with a chemical engineer degree or were you an engineer that ended up being a people person?

Grimes: People person that ended up with a degree in- in chemical engineering.

Zarbock: Isn't that awfully frustrating from time to time the uh.. the nature of some of the human problems that come to you?

Grimes: Some- sometimes, sometimes, you know it- it's a matter of uh.. trying to influence enough people so that they understand what the business is about and can understand their particular role in us being successful uh.. with a large organization like this sometimes uh.. people get lost from the business purpose of what we're trying to accomplish and- and that's something that we've worked on constantly. It's- it's-- I- I think of it as an analogy to a football team whereby you know you could have a quarterback and you could have a tailback, you can have a linemen and then on defense you've got linebackers and you've got defensive end. Everybody's got a different role and it's not a matter of the quarterback's the most important nor is the linebacker on defense nor is the uh.. the tailback. Uh.. it- it has to come together as a team on both sides, you can't have a great offense without a great defense and expect to win all your games and- and reach the Super Bowl if we're talking about professional football. So everybody's got to understand how they fit into the full team but yet they've got to be supportive of each other, they've got to recognize that sometimes we've got to help each other along the way because think about it if the running back fumbles the ball uh.. there's going to be an expectation if he can tackle the guy on the other team that picked it up and was running the other direction you want him to do that. You don't want him to say "Hey I just run the ball." Sometimes we've got to pick up and help each other so uh.. it really is a matter of getting folks to understand the business and understand their position and how they can contribute and get- get them to feel passionate about that. That's a challenge sometimes in a large- a large organization.

Zarbock: All the reading that I've done on management says the same thing and that is that the person on the top sets the tone. So apparently you have been able to set a tone in which you legitimately make people feel important and what their activities and- and objectives are are equally important, have I described you--

Grimes: That's what I'm--

Zarbock: --analytically not (inaudible).

Grimes: --that's what I'm trying to accomplish no question about it and we've got a good team of people here that- that are on my staff that are- that are likewise trying to do that very thing.

Zarbock: It is supporting what you just said one of the things that I've noticed in this interview a conspicuous absence was the first person singular. You know you don't talk about I, I, I?

Grimes: Well again, I mean it comes down to, I mean there's not one person, not a mill manager that can- can be successful all by himself, him or herself in this mill. Uh.. and you have to understand that, most great leaders will tell you that that out of history-- if you look back on history uh.. the great leaders were the ones that were able to pull their entire teams together and while some of them had big egos and will say I a couple of times, they recognize the benefit of- of motivating and- and pulling together their teams whatever they might have been. In conquest of an enemy or uh.. or in conquest of a business pursuit for that matter. So it really comes down to recognizing your place and you're not the only important person that comes to work every day.

Warren: Good.

Zarbock: Well done, well done.

Warren: Thank you so much I do appreciate it.

#### End of Tape 1 Scott Grimes ####

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