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Management Side
On management: Don't overlook the 'little people'
The pulp and paper industry is characterized by big installations, big machines, big volumes and big numbers. Unfortunately, the big scales of industry operations can lead to overlooking the place of little people in the long chain from raw material acquisition to delivered product.

A nationwide shortage of truck drivers has been a sharp reminder to some companies of the importance of people who may be nameless on organization charts, but who nevertheless carry part of the load at some point in the long chain. Kimberly-Clark is one of those companies.

K-C in North America produces a range of health and hygiene products for the consumer market. K-C's retail customers range from mass retailers to warehouse clubs to supermarkets and convenience and drug stores. Over much of the company's history, it has shipped products directly from manufacturing points to customers through regional distribution centers. Naturally, distribution is heavily dependent on trucks and their drivers being at the ready. But a national problem threatened to put a kink in the K-C supply line. The problem is a shortage of truck drivers. Carriers may skip some pickups when they simply don't have enough drivers to make all their contracted stops.

K-C set out to make its distribution center loading areas attractive to carriers so that they would not be tempted to skip them. One first step, seemingly small to a large company, but very big in the minds of truckers was clean rest rooms with attractive driver rest areas. Rest rooms are among the top complaints of drivers. Clean, well-maintained rest rooms and rest areas are now a feature of K-C's distribution centers. Rest areas now have chairs and tables, water fountains and snack machines. K-C also tries to minimize loading times so that drivers can get on the road again quickly and spend less time away from home.

Kimberly-Clark is demonstrating on a daily basis that it understands that its products, major items in national markets, will go nowhere without the cooperative efforts of many people in the production-distribution chain.

Chuck Swann is the senior editor of Paperitalo Publications. He can be reached by email at chuck.swann@taii.com.
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