Innovative Thinking

Departments - Editor's Column

September 12, 2013
DeAnne Toto

DeAnne Toto

Erik Deadwyler, senior vice president and general manager of RockTenn Recycling, Norcross, Ga., the subject of this month’s cover story beginning on page 44, stresses the company’s focus on being a low-cost producer of quality secondary commodities. For RockTenn’s recycling division, this means investing in new technology at strategic plant locations, he says, and exiting facilities that don’t further the company’s strategy.

Deadwyler also stresses the company’s focus on innovation, pointing to RockTenn’s new 100-person trading floor in Atlanta, which opened in March. He says that centralizing RockTenn’s trading staff allows for quick and efficient interactions among the staff and enables the company to respond more quickly to changing market conditions and to make better decisions.

As Michael Zacka, Tetra Pak president and CEO for the United States and Canada, writes in his feature “Redefining Reality,” beginning on page 102 of this issue, innovation often is what sets the fastest growing companies apart from their competitors. And RockTenn has certainly been growing, physically and financially, with a new Atlanta material recovery facility (MRF) and the establishment of its trading floor. RockTenn also reported 136 percent growth in its third fiscal quarter earnings.

The company saw net sales of $2,448 million in the third quarter, an increase of $145 million compared with the third quarter of fiscal 2012. This was despite a decrease of $64 million in recycling segment net sales compared with the third quarter of 2013 in light of lower volume and pricing, RockTenn reports. Despite the decline, recycling segment income was flat relative to the third quarter of fiscal 2012.

Much of the company’s growth came from its corrugated packaging segment sales of $1,720 million, an increase of $174 million compared with the same time frame in 2012. Income for this segment grew $123 million to $196 million. RockTenn attributes this growth to higher selling prices and volumes and to “increased synergies that were partially offset by higher commodity and other costs.”

Many people think that innovation needs to be flashy to have an effect. However, as many companies prove time and time again, and as Zacka details in his article, small, incremental changes often can have a big impact on a company’s bottom line. Companies just need to identify the opportunities and focus on those areas.

Where are the opportunities in your business and what innovative approach will help your company reach new heights?