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Rain didn’t stop Big Island Mill celebration

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GP remembers 125 years of productivity

By John Barnhart

    Fire and floods didn’t stop the paper mill at Big Island.

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    And a rainy Saturday didn’t stop the big event that capped off the mill’s 125th anniversary celebration. The big pavilion at Sedalia Center provided shelter for those attending the event, as well as the band that entertained them. Tents provided further shelter.
    Those attending, including Jim Hannan, Georgia-Pacific’s chief executive officer, lined up in the drizzle to get burgers and fries at a food truck.
    According to Delegate Scott Garrett, 279 people attended the event in spite of the weather.

    “It’s truly unbelievable,” commented Brandon Bennett, president of Georgia-Pacific’s container board division, which includes the Big Island mill.
    Noting the presence of a 1926 Model T Ford truck at the celebration, Bennett put the mill’s longevity in perspective. The first paper rolled out of the mill on March 27, 1891. The first Model T would not roll off a Ford assembly line for another 17 years.
    Bennett contrasted the mill’s lifespan to the average business. He said that, today, the average business operates for 15 years. He attributed the Big Island Mill’s longevity to focusing on its customers and having a good relationship with its employees and the surrounding community. Innovation and the company’s willingness to make capital investments are also important. Bennett said that, since he became president of the container board division, Georgia-Pacific has invested $150 million in the Big Island plant.
    Container board is the material cardboard boxes are made of. It consists of the two layers of heavy paper plus the corrugated material that fits in between them.
    “I want to say thank you for inviting me here,” said Hannan. Hannan heads the entire company which has plants across the country producing a variety of products including other types of paper products, construction materials and chemicals.
    Hannan said he was impressed to read about a fifth generation employee working at the plant.
    He also congratulated Zoe Myers, the mill’s public affairs manager, who headed up the effort to celebrate the mill’s anniversary.
    Hannan said it’s fantastic to see a mill that has been able to evolve, change and be successful for 125 years, while also recovering from multiple disasters over these years.
    He noted that, while demand for some types of paper, such as news print and copy paper is declining, demand for the container board that Big Island produces is growing. It’s growing slowly, but it is growing.
    Hannan said Georgia-Pacific will continue to invest in the Big Island mill.
    “We need to remain competitive,” he said.
    He said Georgia-Pacific has a number of facilities the size of the Big Island Mill, five of which are container board mills.
    “They are all pretty competitive mills,” he said.
    He’s impressed with the Big Island facility.
    “This is a good asset,” he said, “a very good mill and a very good team.”
    Hannan came to Georgia-Pacific after Koch Industries acquired Georgia-Pacific in 2005. In 2007, he was named chief executive officer and president. 
    After outside roles in accounting and finance, Hannan’s career with Koch began in 1998 where he served as chief financial officer of its mineral services unit. Within Koch, he also held positions of increasing responsibility in the mining and INVISTA Intermediates businesses.
    Originally from Connecticut, Hannan grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and graduated from California State University, East Bay, with a degree in business administration that emphasized accounting.