Fred Herbolzheimer was born July 4, 1921, in Wakefield, Massachusetts, U.S.A. He received his bachelor of science in pulp and paper technology in 1943 and master of science degree in chemical engineering, both from the University of Maine, the latter following three years of service in the army, including the 76th Infantry Division in Europe.Mr. Herbolzheimer started his career in the paper industry with Scott Paper Company in 1948 where he held numerous positions including technical director and production manager. He joined Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company in 1957 as production services superintendent. He was promoted to production manager in 1957; vice president of manufacturing, 1961; director, 1964; senior vice president, 1970; and to president in 1971, a position he held for 15 years. He was also appointed vice president of Hammermill (Thilmany’s parent company) in 1973, director in 1974, and senior vice president in 1980.
During Mr. Herbolzheimer’s tenure at Thilmany, the firm experienced rapid growth and innovation in manufacturing processes and market development. The first company president with a manufacturing background, Mr. Herbolzheimer introduced new management techniques including long term planning, cost reduction programs, and feasibility studies. Changes incorporated under Mr. Herbolzheimer’s direction are still being used today throughout the paper industry.
In 1963, for example, Mr. Herbolzheimer was responsible for the development of a new #13 paper machine featuring a reverse suction pick-up at the wet end. This machine was the first of its kind in the specialty paper market and allowed increased machine speeds, additional capacity, and reduced operating costs. This development sparked the firm’s growth in the specialty grades. Two additional machines were also added under his leadership. Paper machine #14 had the largest diameter dryer in the United States. Paper machine #15 used water that had been already used in the pulping process. The latter machine also led to entry into the light weight kraft and one-time carbonizing markets.
Mr. Herbolzheimer led his company through an expansion, acquiring two area manufacturing plants: Akrosil of Menasha, Wisconsin, (1975), and Nicolet Paper Company of De Pere, Wisconsin, (1985).
Environmental stewardship and community service were also major contributions by Mr. Herbolzheimer. He led Thilmany and area papermakers in efforts to comply with tough, new environmental standards to clean up the Fox River during the 1970’s and 1980’s, earning praise from government leaders. A few of his projects included a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant and a program to reduce air pollution. In addition, he drove the state’s Industrial Development Revenue Bond process with a 1973 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, enabling cities and private businesses to work together to reduce pollution of their common environment through a shared legal framework.
Mr. Herbolzheimer was also a strong advocate for community involvement, both from a corporate and individual standpoint. He served on the boards of various local institutions, including Lawrence University.
The success that Thilmany achieved during Mr. Herbolzheimer’s tenure positioned the firm to maintain its competitive advantage through subsequent acquisitions from major forest product companies such as Hammermill and International Paper Company.
Mr. Herbolzheimer and his wife, Janet Rood, reside in Shelburne, Vermont. His first wife, Phyllis, died in 1999. Their children are a daughter, Karen Hoel, and a son, Eric. Grandchildren include Nikolas, Jonathan, Christian, Emma, and Anna.