I know you know we are very safety minded here at Paperitalo Publications. Do you ever go over a couple of columns on this website and look at the department "Risks, Fires and Catastrophes?" Just taking a quick look at it, the mayhem this year is on pace to equal or exceed last year.
We spend a lot of effort and time in this industry on safety, yet it does not seem to be enough, or perhaps our emphasis is in the wrong places. In my book, "Personalities in the Pulp and Paper Industry" I suggest that there are two proxies that can be used to determine how well a company takes care of their assets.
First, you a look at their roofs, a view of which is available to anyone on Google Earth. Their care of their roofs indicates how well they take care of their physical assets. Then, you can examine their safety record and determine how well they take care of their human assets.
In my opinion, these are far better indicators of the quality of management of a company than Return on Investment or, simply, their profit numbers. Profit numbers can be manipulated by not taking care of one's assets. But to truly keep one's physical assets in good condition and keep their employees safe, then still make a profit that meets or exceeds one's peers, that is the sign of good management.
Jim Thompson is CEO of Paperitalo Publications.