International Paper’s CEO visits Franklin

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, April 8, 2009

FRANKLIN—John Faraci said he is not a believer in the “doom-and-gloom scenario.”

Those words should comfort employees of International Paper Co.; Faraci is the company’s chairman and CEO.

“I came with a message to say I appreciate what they’re doing,” Faraci said Tuesday after visiting the Franklin paper mill. “We’ve got to keep on doing it, because the economy may be weak for a while, but it’s going to get better.”

Faraci arrived at John Beverly Rose Airport in Franklin around 11 a.m., flying aboard a white Dassault Falcon 2000 jet. He returned to the airport at 12:45 p.m.

“I think the economy probably has gotten as weak as it’s going to get,” Faraci said from the airport’s terminal. “I don’t think it’s going to rebound quickly. But what we’re trying to do at International Paper is position the company for the long term and manage for the short term.”

He added, “That’s meant some very tough decisions here at Franklin (about) people, which we don’t like to make, but they’re necessary to make. It’s happening, not all over International Paper, but all around the world. Our orders are as good as our customers’ business. When our customers don’t have orders, neither do we.”

Faraci said he was encouraged by what the Obama administration was doing to help turn the economy around.

“I think the steps the administration has put in place are going to start to have an impact,” Faraci said. “Confidence is what we need. I’m very confident about International Paper’s future.”

Faraci said the purpose of his visit wasn’t to bring any news.

He was in the Richmond area Tuesday morning visiting one of the company’s box plants and had a two-hour window before moving on to more meetings in Florida.

“I wanted to stop by Franklin because I wanted to tell employees that they’re making sacrifices, they’re making hard decisions, and it’s having a positive impact on the company,” Faraci said. “People need to know that these tough choices are having an impact.”

Jeannine Siembida, the mill’s manager, said Faraci met with about 140 employees at the mill.

“We tried to get a cross-section of employees, because it is an exciting event to have the chairman come and visit us,” Siembida said. “The employees are doing a good job, and it’s good to hear it from John that it’s appreciated.”