*This blog post is sponsored by Georgia-Pacific. All opinions are my own.
Recently I visited the Georgia-Pacific plywood mill in Corrigan, TX and it was such an informative, enjoyable, refreshing experience. If you’ve been here (on the blog) for a while, you know that my focus has always been family. Because of our family ranch, we have deep connections to the East Texas community and I was so excited when I was invited to the mill.
Georgia-Pacific is a long-standing supplier of building products to lumber and building materials dealers as well as large do-it-yourself warehouse retailers. GP Recycling subsidiary is also among the world’s largest recyclers of paper, metal, and plastics. The company also employs more than 30,000 people directly (over 1000 of those employees are in East Texas!), and creates nearly 92,000 jobs indirectly. It is, absolutely, a life force in the East Texas economy.
I had an interest in how the trees are put to use, how the plywood is made, yes, but I really wanted to see the more personal side of the company: the workers, the culture and all that good stuff. Let me tell you, GP did not disappoint.
Firstly, here are some fun plywood facts to go with the really cool picture above:
- Plywood is super strong, light and can resist cracking and bending.
- It is perfect for wood paneling
- Made from inner and outer layers of solid timber that are glued together
- GP makes the thinnest plywood around—that is their niche; the mill in Corrigan is literally called a “Thin Mill”
I was really blown away by the “like-family” culture. I met multiple employees that proudly told our group about their 10+, 20+, 30+ years with Georgia-Pacific; some employees talked about how Georgia-Pacific had employed their father, grandfather, sister, brother, etc. There was a sense of pride and connectedness between the workers and the product. It was a wonderful experience.
We toured the mill where we got to watch the machines and mill workers work in unison to create the product. There are even robotics systems put in place that identify and rout out knots and cracks, then patch the holes with hot glue-a synthetic patch material. (If you came to the blog first, head over to my IG account (here) to check out some video of these super cool machines.)
Immediately, I had questions. ‘Who are the robots replacing?’, ‘What happens to those people?’, and things like that. GP explained that a lot of the workers who previously mended the plywood, move into positions that allow them to work with the machines. Travel, training, and education are provided so that, in a lot of instances, not only are they not losing their jobs, they are able to take their experience and, through training, move into positions of greater opportunity. All of the management that I spoke with showed sincere concern and awareness of the weight their mill carries to continue to operate through a business model that provides jobs and continued opportunity to the community it serves. The Corrigan mill joined the GP family in 2007. Since then, Georgia-Pacific has immersed itself into the community, partnering with local schools, first responders, and colleges to raise funds, food and provide materials for educational purposes in high school shop programs and college apprenticeship programs. Through Angelina College, Sam Houston State, and Stephen F. Austin State University (my alma mater!) the apprenticeship program has produced over 50 apprentices who are now working at GP facilities.; many have developed into high-level electrical, mechanical and PLC specialists.
To learn more about GP’s work and programs, visit: www.gp.com