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Getting Personal with Richard C. Detienne

  • President of Great Northern Corp. Specialty Group
  • Management style | Empowerment
  • Hobbies | Volunteerism, racquetball, tennis, and golf
  • How did you get into the converting business? The first 20 years of my career were with Thilmany Pulp & Paper. I was asked to run Laminations when its president was approaching retirement. It was one of those right time, right place career opportunities.

  • What is the key to growing a business in a bad economy? I'm not certain that growing a business in a bad economy is always a desirable goal. Focusing the business on your best customers and working on future opportunities may be much wiser than chasing orders to maintain year-to-year growth.

  • What is the biggest threat to the converting industry right now? Avoiding a race-to-the-bottom mentality. Just providing cheaper products is not the answer to many customers concerns about being competitive in a global economy.

  • Are there any business books you recommend? Good to Great by Jim Collins; The Balanced Scorecard by Robert S. Kaplan and David P. Norton; A Bias for Action by Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal; and Hiring the Best by Martin Yate are some of the books that have influenced my thinking.

  • What keeps you up at night with regard to your business? I'm pleased to report that generally I sleep very well! However, raw material costs and availability are an ongoing concern.

  • What do you enjoy most about your job? When we get orders for a truckload of product, we ring bells or blow whistles. It's a great way for everyone to celebrate.

  • What is the biggest mistake you made and how did you fix it? I did not act soon enough when one of our plants began to under-perform. Eventually we re-prioritized our goals for that operation, sold off a nonstrategic product line, and changed leadership at the plant. Now this is one of our most productive operations.

  • What is the best advice you ever got? Sell high, buy low. Unfortunately, my stock portfolio would suggest I never paid much attention to that advice!

  • What advice would you give someone just starting out in this business? Find something you really like doing. You may not find this initially, but keep looking. It isn't all about the money. Being unhappy with your job or your boss, even if you're paid well, is not a good place to be.

  • Do you have a personal hero? My son Andy. He has Down syndrome, and I have been inspired by what he's accomplished. At 37, he's been happily married for over ten years, lives independently, has been gainfully employed since leaving high school, and has the most remarkable, positive outlook on life.

About Laminations, part of Great Northern Corp. Specialty Group

  • 3010 E. Venture Dr., Appleton, WI 54911
  • Founded 1973; 5 plants; 185 employees
  • Specialty | Sustainable protective packaging solutions

How do you celebrate your company's success? Share your perspective. Write to yolanda.This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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