By last count, I have written more than 1,100 columns about the pulp and paper industry. Yet, every time I sit down to write about the industry, I usually have a fresh topic on my mind or a new angle on an old topic.
This week, I am thinking about fires as we witnessed the destruction of Soundview Paper in Elmwood Place, New Jersey and a serious fire at Huhtamaki in Waterville, Maine. These were barely under control before we received the news that a research facility associated with Columbia Pulp in Dayton, Washington burned.
What do we learn from these? As if we didn't know it, winter makes firefighting harder. That is not new. Also not new, likely all three sites could have used better housekeeping to possibly prevent or at least mitigate the damage.
What is new is what you may do regarding housekeeping in your facilities from these experiences. New Jersey, Maine, Washington State, all within 48 hours. In all cases, something went awry. I strongly suspect a large contributor to these incidents was poor housekeeping.
Managers always give me pushback on housekeeping. Now, there are at least 200 people in New Jersey who probably, if they are perspicacious, upon reflection, wish they had done a little more housekeeping. The other sites, I am not so sure about the permanent job loss.
Make this your new thing for 2019--focus on neat, clean and orderly like you never have before. Maybe the industrial insurance underwriters will take housekeeping a little more serious, too.
Jim Thompson is CEO of Paperitalo Publications.