“Hone your expertise” is not just a slogan at TAPPI, it’s reality. Just ask member Michael Segal.
Currently the Director of Logistics and Operations Planning for Sappi North America, Michael joined TAPPI back in 1989 shortly after being hired by another pulp and paper company. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering several years before, Michael was searching for a partner he could rely on to help provide the technical and networking assistance needed to succeed in a very new and challenging role.
It wasn’t long before Michael knew he’d hit the jackpot. Membership gave him access to industry-specific research papers, technical experts, and training conferences. He put them all to work as he was steadily given new and expanding areas of responsibility. When unanticipated issues or problems arose, he turned to the one source he knew could provide the experts – and the expertise – needed to get the job done.
“TAPPI has been a partner to me throughout the evolution of my career,” Michael points out. “Whether I was an entry level technical service representative, process design engineer, production superintendent or area manager, TAPPI provided the opportunity to gain an appropriate level of knowledge and resources – all at the exact right time. I then leveraged that knowledge to effectively contribute to the success of my company.”
And leverage it he has.
In his current role at Sappi, Michael is responsible for developing and implementing strategies that continue to drive best-in-class planning and delivery services to customers while minimizing the cost to serve. He does this by managing asset scheduling and optimization, logistics and operations planning systems, warehousing, inventory management and control, supply chain orchestration, 3PL selection and management, regulatory compliance, transportation and switching services.
Prior to this, Michael also served in a variety of operations leadership positions at Sappi’s mill in Cloquet, MN. There he was responsible for leading the operational availability and cost effectiveness of the steam, energy, water, and waste treatment systems, and supporting pulp production through control of the liquor cycle. He was also a leader in Sappi’s international energy savings and mill site profitability efforts. His career prior to joining Sappi included working as a process/production engineer, shift supervisor, and technical department manager at Potlatch Corporation.
To this day, Michael relies on TAPPI resources to excel in his role and is actively engaged from both a utilization and participation standpoint. He currently serves as the Shipping, Receiving, and Warehousing Committee Chair, and has been a member of Northeast PIMA/TAPPI since 2006. “TAPPI is definitely my ‘go to’ resource,” he said.
Q. Why did you decide to join TAPPI?
A. After being hired by a pulp and paper company early in my career, I quickly realized that I needed a resource to provide me with the technical tools and networking opportunities that could improve my effectiveness. TAPPI was that resource and granted me access to research papers, technical experts, and training conferences.
Q. How has TAPPI helped you in your career pursuits?
A. TAPPI has benefited me in many ways. Initially I was able to gain the technical information I needed to troubleshoot operational issues in the mill. I have been able to support all areas of the pulp and paper mill from the wood room through the finishing and shipping area. Each time I was presented with a new area, I would utilize TAPPI publications or short courses to ground myself in the functional skills. In addition, over the course of my career I was able to lead projects associated with the design and start-up of new process equipment. TAPPI supported this through the conferences, proceedings, and introduction of key process area experts that helped provide background information and technical support when unanticipated results arose.
Q. Have you been published?
A. Yes. Hinton, Clifford, Segal, Michael, and Spangler, Rick; Multifaceted Training Program Yields Excellent Recovery Boiler Start-up: TAPPI Engineering and Product Quality Conference proceedings. I presented this paper, in Anaheim, CA. It addressed the design and implementation of a training strategy, resulting in a seamless recovery boiler and super concentrator start-up without any health and safety exceptions, or associated lost production.
Q. Tell us about some of your interests outside of TAPPI and your professional life.
A. I enjoy spending time with my family, playing guitar and working on personal fitness. I have also held the following positions:
• Youth sports coach for basketball, baseball, and lacrosse
• President of the Southern Maine Youth Football League
• Director of Youth Football Operations for the town of Windham, Maine
• Board Member, United Way of Carlton County
• Board Member, Friends of the Cloquet Library
• Chairman of the Board of the American Society of Transportation & Logistics
• Board Member of APICS
Q. Please provide a few thoughts on what you believe have been the most significant contributions/breakthroughs in areas of our industry? Also, what is your favorite paper or packaging product?
A. At Sappi, the three pillars of people, planet, and prosperity represent our commitment to sustainability, which mirrors the industry in my opinion. The focus on the ability to balance profitability with environmental responsibility, as well as the investment in development and growth of our employees, suppliers, and customers has resulted in sustainable gains in quality, knowledge, and performance. In many ways the industry has remade itself over the 26 years I have been a part of it.
My favorite paper product is a blank sheet of fine coated paper. It has the potential to be anything and is a platform for creativity.