2016 Specialty Papers US Speakers

Smithers Pira and TAPPI are pleased to announce the following individuals who are confirmed to speak at Specialty Papers US taking place in Chicago, IL this September. 

  • John Leness

    President & Chairmen of the Board, Southworth Company

    John completed his undergraduate studies at Harvard University earning a degree in Economics.  He later earned his J.D from the University of Virginia.  His work experience includes working in Corporate Syndication at Merrill Lynch in New York City.  Moving to Seattle, John worked as an Associate Attorney with Perkins Coie before becoming Corporate Legal Counsel at Flow.


    an Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Biomaterials North Carolina State University

    Dr. Lokendra Pal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Forest Biomaterials at North Carolina State University. Dr. Pal has over 14 years of industrial experience in the research and manufacturing of paper-based materials and professional experience in managing and collaborating with industrial partners worldwide.

    Dr. Pal has filed 30 patent applications and been granted 10 patents. Before joining NC State, Dr. Pal spent 9 years working with Hewlett-Packard in the Media Supplies and Solutions group leading new product development and cost reduction programs. He obtained his Ph.D. in Paper and Imaging Science and Engineering from Western Michigan University. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma (LSS) Black Belt.

    His current research efforts focus on developing sustainable packaging materials and functional coatings, smart packaging, printed electronics, and additive manufacturing/3D printing processes and materials. 

  • Dr. Victor Breedveld

    Associate Professor Georgia Tech, School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Renewable Bioproducts Institute

    Dr. Victor Breedveld is an Associate Professor at Georgia Tech in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Renewable Bioproducts Institute (formerly known as Institute for Paper Science and Technology). One of his key research interests is the structure and rheology of complex fluids, with a particular interest in the development and use of novel experimental techniques to elucidate the microstructural dynamics of these materials. Another research thrust in his group concerns the interaction between fluids and porous substrates, with an emphasis on generating extreme wetting and non-wetting behavior.

    Dr. Breedveld obtained his PhD (2000) and MSc (1996) in Applied Physics from the University of Twente (the Netherlands) and received a postdoctoral fellowship to work at UC Santa Barbara, before joining the faculty at Georgia tech in 2003. He was awarded an NSF-CAREER award in 2006 and has received recognition for his teaching through several awards at Georgia Tech.

  • Weiguo Cheng

    Corporate Scientist Nalco Pulp & Paper R&D

    Weiguo Cheng graduated from chemistry department, University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2004. With physical chemistry major, Weiguo’s research focus was surface modification of polymer matrix and to study the polymer visco-elastic properties at the oil/water interface.  Prior to that, Weiguo obtained the MS in polymer physics from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), Hefei, China in 1999 and BS degree in polymer science and engineering from USTC in 1996.

    Weiguo Joined Nalco Pulp & Paper R&D in Naperville as a research chemist right after graduation. Since then Weiguo held multiple positions within Nalco Pulp & Paper R&D. Currently Weiguo is a Corporate Scientist managing the whole polymer innovation portfolio for both Paper and Mining application. During 12 years in Nalco, Weiguo’s primary research focus is to study the relationship between paper structure and properties, and how to chemically enhance this relationship. Weiguo has over 20 patents and patent applications.        

  • Richard Cohen

    Founder and President Distant Village Packaging

    Rich Cohen is the founder of Distant Village Packaging, an innovative and leading packaging company with expertise in specialty tree-free artisan packaging and branded packaging design since 2000.  Rich is also the founder and President of PURE Labels compostable adhesive labels and Elevate Packaging, a bio-plastic and recycled paper packaging company.

  • Mark Crable

    President Crable Engineering, USA

    Mark Crable is a color expert with 31years of experience in the field.  He's worked for a number of companies dealing with all aspects of the coloration of paper and board.  Starting in 1985, he joined AccuRay (now ABB), and was asked to join the integration team for AccuRay's new color measurement and color control system.  With training from GretagMacbeth (now X-Rite) and Ciba (now BASF) plus direct work with the control and software engineers developing the standard color system, he began installing, tuning, and training operators on AccuRay color control.  This work also included advising paper manufacturers on the design of "color kitchens" for the storage and delivery of dyes to the paper machines. 

    Following an 8-year career with AccuRay/ABB, Mark worked for the International Paper mill in Mobile, Alabama for 3 years prior to taking a position in Color Technology directly with International Paper.  After 2 years on the team, Mark became the Program Manager - Color and Appearance for International Paper when the group relocated to Loveland, Ohio. He led efforts at four International Paper mills to manufacture colored papers on machines which had previously run only white papers.  Mark was also a key player in the 2005 move by IP to launch brighter and whiter papers in the North American market.  He introduced the concept of CIE whiteness to this market. Mr. Crable was intimately involved in the implementation of ColorLok® technology at IP mills in the U.S. and Brazil.

    After 12 years with International Paper, Mark worked directly for the dye company, Greenville Colorants where he supported sales of dyes, tinting pigments, and optical brightening agents (OBA) to multiple paper companies.  In 2011, he established Crable Engineering LLC, a process solutions and color expertise company with multiple industry partners.  He maintains relationships with manufacturers of color measurement & control systems, dye pump and dye delivery systems, and multiple dyestuff companies. He is presently Chair of TAPPI’s Optical Properties committee.

    Career highlights:  Mr. Crable has worked with paper clients on color projects across the U.S. and Canada, plus Scotland, France, Poland, Russia, Brazil, and Australia.  He is experienced with dye and OBA selection for manufacturing all types of paper & paperboard, dye delivery systems, on-line, closed-loop color control, optical properties (including color) theory and practices.  Mark has worked with over 20 different paper companies and numerous paper mills throughout the world.  He continues to learn and enjoys sharing color and appearance experience.


  • Matt Elhardt

    VP Business Development Fisher International, Inc.

    Matt Elhardt is a strategic planning professional with over 10 years of pulp and paper industry experience in sales, marketing, product development, and operations. His area of expertise is identifying growth potential and achieving performance end-goals through strategic management, pricing and margin optimization, and anticipating marketplace dynamics. At Fisher International, Mr. Elhardt helps clients leverage Fisher’s resources to achieve their objectives, particularly in bridging the gap between strategy and implementation with data-driven thinking. Prior to joining Fisher International, Mr. Elhardt held management positions in marketing and operations at Longview Fibre Paper and Packaging. Mr. Elhardt received his MBA from the University of Washington and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Washington State University. 

  • Huston Keith

    Principal and Founder Keymark Associates

    Market research and product development expert Huston Keith is the principal and founder of Keymark Associates, a consulting firm based in Marietta, Georgia, near Atlanta. Keymark consults with Fortune 100 and other firms on a variety of packaging markets.

    Under his direction, Keymark Associates has published market studies North American Flexible Packaging Strategies 2002, Opportunities for Shrink Labels for Bottles, and Oxygen Absorbers: Hit or Hype? (with BRG). He also provided significant research and analysis for Case Ready Packaging Systems 2001-2005, published by Packaging Strategies. In his 37 year career, he has conducted over
    300 market research studies in areas such as flexible packaging, case-ready meats, oriented films, cut-and-stack labels, shrink films/labels, thermal lamination films, polystyrene foam packaging, plastic sheet markets, plastic foam markets, ovenable and microwavable trays, foodservice disposables, hot-fill bottles and many other areas. He has been a featured writer in Flexible Packaging, Snack Food, The National Provisioner, and other food and packaging publications.

    Prior to starting his firm, he was a market development manager of barrierpackaging for Amoco Foam Products Company (now part of Pactiv Corporation). He led the development of the barrier foam tray and was instrumental in its successful adoption for several fresh meat packaging applications. During his tenure, sales of the barrier packaging product line tripled.

    His marketing skills are very diverse, having also been a consumer research manager for Holiday Inns. He directed and authored several market research projects leading to the successful start-up of the Embassy Suite and Hampton Inn hotel chains.

  • Mark Lewis

    President and CTO of Sustainable Fiber Technologies and CTO of Columbia Pulp Columbia Pulp and Sustainable Fiber Technologies

    Over 30 years in the pulp and paper industry primarily in research with companies such as Weyerhaeuser, GK Carbonate, English China Clays, was extremely active in the alkaline conversersions of many mills throughout North America.  Later, was the Director of the Paper Science Center at the University of Washington, teaching Fiber Physics, Papermaking Operations, Wet End Chemistry.  Currently the President and CTO  of Sustainable Fiber Technologies, and also CTO of Columbia Pulp

  • David Long

    VP of Business Development Coveris

    Dave Long is a graduate of West Virginia University in 1988 with a B.S.  Mechanical Engineering

    Dave started his packaging career with Rexam and eventually joined  a company called Exopack in 2001.

    The owners of Exopack, Sun Capital Partners, built upon the exopack core and in 2013 , brought all of its  packaging companies under one banner called Coveris.

    Coveris has $2.6MM in sales world wide and is represented in 23 counties with 10,000 employees and 70 sites.

    Dave has been focused on pet food packaging for a number of years with duties spanning Quality, production and project management, sales responsibilities, product development and business development

    Dave is currently the VP of Business Development based in Spartanburg, SC

  • Bryan McCulloch

    Research Scientist The Dow Chemical Company

    Bryan McCulloch is currently working as a research scientist for the Dow Chemical Company working to develop new polymers and formulations for paper and paperboard coatings. He received a BS from the University of Washington in 2007 and PhD from University of California-Berkeley in 2012 in Chemical Engineering with technical expertise in colloids, polymer physics, and polymer synthesis.

  • David Mika

    CFO Southworth Company

    David completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Connecticut at Storrs earning a degree in Accounting.  He is licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Connecticut.  David has worked in various manufacturing industries as a controller and VP of Finance working with the companies to restructure and implement changes.

  • Frank Perkowski

    President Business Development Advisory, Inc.

    Frank Perkowski is a certified management consultant (CMC) and the president of Business Development Advisory (BDA), a pulp and paper consulting firm focused on helping companies in mature markets grow and develop their business.


    Frank has over 30 years of diverse experience within the paper, packaging, and specialty products industry. Prior to becoming a management consultant in 1997, he held a number of senior marketing and business management positions at Georgia-Pacific, James River, and Graphic Packaging. These positions spanned virtually all the major industry product segments including tissue, printing papers, paperboard, converted products, nonwovens, and specialty papers. Frank holds a BA degree from Yale University, accounting certification from Cornell University, and an MBA from Fordham University.


    Since 1997, Frank has led and conducted over 350 consulting engagements for a diverse set of clients within the paper and packaging industry. Virtually all of these engagements involve conducting market analyses, business opportunity assessments, market research studies, competitive evaluations, and growth strategy development. Many of these engagements are also focused on specialty paper markets or helping clients to identify and develop value adding products and services that respond to changing customer needs or market opportunities.


    Frank is a regular industry speaker at industry conferences and events and has authored numerous articles and papers on industry issues, opportunities, and growth strategy development. 

  • Phil Riebel

    President Two Sides North America, Inc.

    Phil is President of Two Sides North America, a non-profit that promotes the sustainability of print and paper.  Two Sides operates globally in 5 continents and several countries with over 1,000 members spanning the entire graphic communications value chain. 

    Phil has over 30 years of International experience acquired in senior management positions in industry and consulting and has participated in numerous environmental projects related to the forest products industry.  Prior to starting up Two Sides in North America in 2011, Phil was Vice-President, Corporate Environmental Affairs for UPM-Kymmene[1] where he was responsible for developing the global environmental strategy and coordinating a team of professional staff working in sustainable forestry and sourcing, environmental performance of production units, market environmental support and overall environmental services. 

    Phil has published extensively on sustainability and environmental topics related to the forest products sector.  He received his Bachelor and Master's of Science degrees from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  He also owns and manages 200 acres of forestland for economic and recreational benefits.

  • Jim Stymiest

    Manager, N. American Pulp Sales West Fraser Forest Products Inc.
    • B.S. in Chemical Engineering – University of Maine
    • Started my career selling paper chemicals for Hercules, Inc.
    • Began selling pulp in 1988 (28 years of experience)
    • Worked for a couple of direct pulp producers and a pulp sales agency
    • Have worked for West Fraser since 2005 as their Manager of North American Pulp Sales
    • I have a wife and two children and reside in Appleton, Wisconsin
  • John Tennier

    General Manager SWM

    John is the General Manager of SWM’s business unit specializing in papers for the cigar industry.  A graduate of the University of British Columbia’s  Masters of Pulp and Paper Engineering, he has worked in a wide variety of positions in the forest products industry including sales, project development, process engineering, and recently, general management.  The business unit encompasses manufacturing operations, sales, and product development.

  • Katariina Torvinen

    Senior Scientist and Project Manager VTT Technical Research Centre

    Katariina Torvinen started her research career at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland in 2000. Torvinen is working as a Senior Scientist and Project Manager in Fibre Product Manufacturing Technologies dealing with a great number of different industrial processes and biobased materials. The main research areas at the moment are new fiber based products, foam forming in pilot scale, cellulose nano- and microfibrils in different applications, pigment-CNF composites as a substrate for printed electronics, thick porous foam formed structures and bio composites. 

  • Dr. Zhirun Yuan

    Research Leader and Principal Scientist FP Innovations
    • Research Leader and Principal Scientist working on high-yield pulp and forest-based biorefinery and bio-products.
    • Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering and has been working in FPInnovations since 1997
    • More than 30 year professional experience in pulp and paper industry, mainly on process/product development and technology transfer
    • Was the Chairman of PAPTAC mechanical pulping committee
    • Published > 60 papers
    • Have a beautiful wife and two lovely sons. Happily living in the “cold” Montreal for 20 years.