George W. Mead was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 11, 1927; he was one of three children. In 1946, he finished his preparatory education at Hotchkiss, a private boarding school in Connecticut. In 1950, he graduated from Yale University with a bachelor of science degree followed in 1952 with a master of science degree from The Institute of Paper Chemistry, Appleton, Wisconsin.
Mr. Mead joined Consolidated Papers, Inc. as a chemical engineer in 1952. During his career, he progressed through the ranks, serving in the positions of production manager, corporate quality manager, and vice president of operations. His steady advancement through the company was in keeping with Mr. Mead’s feeling that he needed to “double-pay” his dues as the grandson, and later the son, of the company president. He was elected president in 1966 and has been chairman of the board since 1971.
Consolidated is known as a premier producer of coated and supercalendered printing papers that are used in magazines, books, brochures, advertising, and corporate annual reports. The company also makes coated specialty papers for product packaging and labeling, paperboard products, corrugated products, paperboard, and kraft and recycled pulp.
Consolidated Papers became a successful and innovative company, with many new technologies implemented and invented under Mr. Mead’s leadership. Approximately 49 U. S. patents covering technological advances in the pulp and paper industry have been issued, as well as 30 foreign patents, many being in the European Patent Convention countries, as well as Canada, Brazil, and Mexico.
Significant patents used at Consolidated, and worldwide, are for the application of coatings on printing and writing grades of paper. These include the Short Dwell Time Applicator (to speed up the coating process) and the JetFlow Applicator (a way of applying hot air flow from behind the sheet to speed up drying time).
In addition to being technically innovative, Consolidated, under Mr. Mead’s tenure, has earned recognition as one of the best U.S. paper companies. The Gallagher Report, a newsletter for managers, honored Mr. Mead as one of the ten best executives of 1984 for companies with less than $1 billion in sales. Mr. Mead led the way in the company’s modernization effort, a two-for-one stock split, and a 70 percent improvement in earnings for the first nine months of 1984. By 1996, sales expanded by a factor of 13, capacity tripled, and profits in 1995 were 21 times greater than when Mr. Mead became president in 1966.
While the culture of Consolidated emanates from the top, each employee is made to feel he or she shares in the company’s success. Mr. Mead embodies the view that hard work, sacrifice, willingness to compromise, quality, and service will achieve positive results. Active in several industry associations, Mr. Mead currently serves on the board of directors of the American Forest & Paper Association. He is immediate past chairman of the AF&PA Environmental and Health Program. He is also past chairman and a member of the board of governors and the executive committee of the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement. He is a trustee and past chairman of the board of trustees of the Institute of Paper Science and Technology (formerly The Institute of Paper Chemistry) and is a TAPPI Fellow. Mr. Mead is on the board of directors of several other corporations, including Snap-on Incorporated and Thiele Kaolin.
In 1987, a poll of sell-side security analysts voted Consolidated the best-managed paper company. Mr. Mead was chosen Papermaker of the Year in 1986 by the Paper Industry Management Association (PIMA) and again in 1990 by PaperAge Magazine. In 1994, he received the Herman Louis Joachim Award for Excellence in Management from the Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation. In 1998, PIMA named Consolidated “Company of the Year,” citing it for business management and environmental leadership.
Mr. Mead has three grown children by a previous marriage. He and his wife, Susan, whom he married in 1990, live on an island in the middle of the Wisconsin River in Wisconsin Rapids. Mr. Mead is an avid skier and tennis player.