Joining the Specialty Papers US advisory board for the first time in 2017 is Scott Mingus, Manager of Business Strategy and Analysis at Glatfelter. Scott brings 30+ years of industry experience to the board. After a 23-year career at specialty converting company, Avery Dennison, Scott joined Glatfelter in 2001 as the Global Director of New Product Development before moving into this current role in 2013.
Smithers Pira recently had the opportunity to speak with Scott to gain his perspective on the biggest specialty papers industry trends, new innovations and why he feels Specialty Papers is so important for industry professionals.
Q: What are some of the biggest trends for the specialty papers industry you see happening in the Specialty Paper market, right now?
A: Several traditional commodity paper companies have begun entering selected specialty markets; some successfully, others were unsuccessful and withdrew from the target market or moved into other areas. There has also been some recent consolidation among specialty papers companies and converters, reflecting the ongoing trend of mergers and acquisitions in the NA and Western European supply base.
Q: As wallpaper starts to make a comeback, has Glatfelter seen any new innovations, challenges or trends in that area?
A: In certain countries, there has been a trend toward high-performance nonwoven wall coverings made on specialty paper machines to replace traditional vinyl films and latex-saturated paper wallcoverings. Another trend has been for smaller volume, customized digital printing of wall coverings and wall borders, often requiring highly engineered specialty coatings or topcoatings to meet printing, durability, and weatherability demands. New digital printers have been introduced that handle thicker and wider materials such as small rolls or individual sheets of wallcoverings.
Q: As consumers push for more sustainable products, what are some the innovative ways you think we’ll see paper companies become more sustainable?
A: Many paper companies and their customers and end users have stressed sustainable forestry practices, including chain of custody certifications. This will continue, and likely expand in certain markets and applications. Reducing overall energy usage and related costs, as well as carbon footprint, continues to be a key focal point for many paper producers for the next few years (and likely beyond). Several are investigating or commercializing bio-fuels and other alternative uses for their traditional pulp mills and wood baskets. In other cases, companies have been forward integrating where appropriate to add value to their papers that previously may have been done by third parties or by customers.
Q: What are some of the big challenges for Glatfelter within the specialty paper industry, right now?
A: Glatfelter, like many specialty paper companies, has been recruiting new talent from both within and without the paper industry to add fresh vitality, diverse perspectives, and new insights to the overall workforce. A key will be to avoid industry “brain drain” as the workforce (many of them baby boomers) in the US paper industry approaches retirement age. This comes at a time when the industry has been shrinking and paper-related college programs have in general faced increasing competition for science and math students from other disciplines in higher growth industries. This is true of both our Specialty Papers and Composite Fibers businesses.
Q: Why do you think the Specialty Papers US conference is so important to the industry?
A: The conference is an excellent way to keep abreast of new market trends and technical information from suppliers and industry consultants, and to network with peers with common interests. It better serves the unique needs of the specialty wing of the paper industry than many larger, broader industry events and conferences.
Q: What are you most looking forward to hearing/seeing at Specialty Papers US 2017?
A: As a long-time scientist and technical leader, I always look forward to the sessions on innovation and technology advancements. They can provide a spark for further developments and new product ideas which remains a central focus for Glatfelter.