I am one of 6 brothers (no sisters), raised by a U.S. Marine father who worked in the paper industry for 35 years for Westvaco before retiring from the same. In the area where I grew up, there were few employment opportunities. Those presently include: mining and hauling coal, cutting and trucking pulp wood, working as a guard at the Federal Penitentiary, and working at the paper mill in Luke, Maryland.
My father worked in the mill, my first girlfriend's father worked at the mill, many of my neighbors and acquaintances worked at the mill in Luke. When I had completed my masters degree in chemical engineering at the University of Virginia in 1985, I was pulled toward the paper industry as well. After a few interviews, I was offered a position with Westvaco's Luke Mill and a position as a systems engineer with AccuRay (now ABB).
Having been raised in a very small town area, I felt a need to stretch my wings a bit and joined AccuRay (a small [then] but international company). That is a decision I have never regretted. Travel I wanted, and travel I got! Canada, France, Australia, and many places in the U.S. can be counted as some of the places where I worked in paper mills. Did you know that in France there is (or was) a paper mill just 15 minutes to the west of Paris by car? I certainly never knew that until I worked there. It was not a problem for me to find something to do after work!
I love travel, seeing new places and meeting new people and cultures. That is the elixir which makes life worthwhile for me. How about for you? What excites you?
My work with AccuRay involved the setup, tuning, operator training, and results reporting for computer control systems on paper machines - what we now refer to as the QCS (Quality Control System). In 1986, I was asked to join a task team to bring onboard Color measurement and closed-loop control as a new, standard part of AccuRay's product offerings. Wow! What an exciting adventure that was! Being part of that team is what took me to Australia for 3 weeks to perform a system startup, for example.
My primary work today is in the field of color and appearance of paper. I sell dyes and pigment dispersions with the services to apply them most efficiently and effectively. Can't count the number of paper companies and paper mills that I've visited, but it is a whole bunch. So far, I've spent 32 years in the paper industry with no regrets and many great experiences.