John Hinman was born in North Stratford, New Hampshire on October 2, 1885.
He received his college education at Dartmouth College where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1908.
John Hinman spent his entire career with International Paper. He joined the company in 1913 as a forestry district manager. In 1927 he became the general manager of International Paper Timberlands. A year later he was promoted to Vice President of International Paper. He became President of Canadian International Paper in 1935, and, eight years later, President of all of International Paper. He held that position for twelve years before becoming Chairman, International Paper in 1954. He retired as Chairman in 1961, but remained as Honorary Chairman and Director of Woodlands until 1962.
He was a passionate forester committed to the conservation of the company’s timberlands and launched massive reforestation programs. In an era when many companies practiced a “cut-out and get-out” strategy, he recognized that good forest management and a healthy forest products industry were codependent. He urged a multiple-use approach to forestry, the tenants of which clearly anticipated our current vision of sustainable forestry that has become formalized in our forest certification systems. His visionary role is illustrated by his 1948 remark, “once wood is reduced to a pure and stable chemical it provides the base on which chemist can build a hundred different products…..It is conceivable that the forests of United States and Canada within the next half century will supply us not only paper for many varied purposes….but also quantities of foodstuffs, alcohol, and chemical raw materials from parts of the wood which we are only beginning to use today.”
By the late 1940’s he more than doubled the company’s lands from 2.5 million to 5.8 million acres, while virtually eliminating its debt. He was among the first to recognize the industry’s growth potential in the United States South and moved quickly to position International Paper in that region. A strong supporter of innovation, Mr. Hinman established a research laboratory in Mobile, Alabama and a forest experiment station at Bainbridge, Georgia. Both of these units contributed significantly to the industry’s technology base.
Under his leadership as Chairman, International Paper experienced a period of unprecedented growth. International Paper started a dissolving pulp mill in Natchez, Mississippi that was the first to use 100% hardwood, and built a mill in Pine Bluff, Arkansas to produce newsprint, milk carton grades and lightweight white papers. He launched a multimillion dollar research program to develop a very successful plastic-coated milk carton. New liquid packaging and corrugated container plants were constructed and acquired. He led International Paper’s expansion overseas through joint ventures and acquisitions. By 1959 International Paper reached $1 billion in sales.
He was a forceful and dynamic leader who contributed significantly to the development of the industrial forest base in the United States South. His insight, force of personality, and strength of conviction made him an effective advocate for both responsible use of natural resources and responsible corporate behavior. Under his leadership, the International Paper Foundation was established to support educational development. The Foundation currently awards the John Hinman Teacher Fellowships in his honor.
He received honorary degrees from the Institute of Paper Chemistry through Lawrence College (now Lawrence University) in 1951 and Dartmouth College in 1957. In 1958 he received the Forest Farmer Award. He served as president of the American Pulpwood Association and American Forest Products Industries.
Mr. Hinman died on May 22, 1981 in Pelham, New York. He was married to Jennie C. Drew. They had four sons (Howard D., Dr. Crawford H., Edward D. and Richard H.), seventeen grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.