Tad Bretting

H. Lyman (Tad) Bretting was born in Ashland, Wisconsin, on June 24, 1936. Following his graduation from high school, he attended the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a degree in business in 1958. Following in his father’s footsteps, he joined the family manufacturing company, which was founded by his grandfather, C. G. Bretting.

Established in 1890, C.G. Bretting Manufacturing Company originally built and repaired sawmill equipment. In 1930, Lyreart Bretting (Tad’s father) built the first four-web vacuum napkin folder. It was in 1960 that Tad Bretting saw a need in the paper converting industry and the company began to create machinery that revolutionized tissue products as we know them today. Many of the converting processes were labor intensive, which made tissue products relatively expensive. Mr. Bretting saw opportunities in the then emerging fast food industry for dispenser napkins. He also recognized the increased numbers in the work force and foresaw the requirement for additional hand towels to meet wash room demands. The processes by which these products were converted at that time were not efficient and could not meet the growing demands.

Mr. Bretting pioneered modern converting machinery and led his company into a worldwide leadership role. With his vision of growth for tissue and his leadership skills, he grew the company from sales of $120,000 per year with 11 employees to over $70,000,000, with nearly 500 employees today.

Early in his career, Mr. Bretting visited many tissue converters and learned first hand the challenges they faced. As a small company, Bretting employees — including Mr. Bretting — had to wear many hats.

He assisted in the design, machine assembly, and installation of the early machines. He continually reinvested in the company, putting dollars into technology that could solve problems. The Bretting designed and built machines made converting much faster and less expensive, thereby allowing for development of new products. Mr. Bretting’s vision had a direct impact on the increased per capita usage of tissue products world wide.

Bretting machines fit a multitude of applications. Mr. Bretting directed the development of machines to fit small converters as well as the very largest. Bretting machines are built to produce efficiently with minimal waste. The machines are easily utilized on recycled products and can employ printing methods that are environmentally clean.

Far beyond the machinery developed by Bretting Manufacturing is the commitment to keeping a customer satisfied, a standard set by Mr. Bretting, which is unequaled in the industry today. His key contribution to the paper industry is the assurance that he gave to those who put their faith in him that his work was good and that he would be there in the event of a problem. He has never compromised that commitment.

Mr. Bretting’s leadership wasn’t restricted to the company. He worked unselfishly and tirelessly for his community. Ashland, a traditional mining and logging town, has suffered periods of economic depression. Through Mr. Bretting’s entrepreneurial vision and leadership, many good jobs were created. He gives generously to the community, and many local charities receive funding they need to meet their objectives.

In 1989, Mr. Bretting received both the Wisconsin Small Business Person of the Year award and the United States Small Business Person of the Year.

He served as chairman of the board of directors of M&I National Bank of Ashland; member of the board of directors of Northern States Power; vice president and director of Ashland Foundation Board; former coach and an originator of Ashland Little League Baseball; past board member of Wisconsin State Chamber of Commerce; former trustee of Northland College of Ashland; past president of Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce; former director of First American National Bank of Wausau; and past board member of St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Mr. Bretting and his wife, Barbara, raised five children, four of whom represent the fourth generation working for C.G. Bretting Manufacturing. In his leisure time, Mr. Bretting enjoyed hunting, fishing, and golfing. (Mr. Bretting died in 2003)

Stephen Baisch

Stephen J. Baisch was born on October 28, 1917, in Ironwood, Michigan. He was one of four children. His family moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, when he was two years old. Later, they moved to Antigo, Wisconsin, where Mr. Baisch attended public school. He graduated from Antigo High School in 1935. He attended the University of Wisconsin and graduated in 1942 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. While a student, he joined the Army ROTC. After graduation, he served under General Patton in the invasion of French North Africa and later in Sicily. By the time his military service was over, he had earned the rank of major.

In 1945, Mr. Baisch joined Thilmany Pulp and Paper Company as chief design engineer and was responsible for the overall engineering for three new paper machines, as well as a new woodroom; new screen room; new brown stock washing installation; relining, and replacement of digester, converting machines, and a warehouse.

On January 15, 1958, he ended his career at Thilmany when he founded his own consulting and engineering firm, S. J. Baisch Associates lnc., in Kaukauna, Wisconsin.

For many years, Mr. Baisch managed all of the active projects. By creating a strong personal relationship with the owner and then following through with technical expertise and ethical business dealings, he was able to build a strong foundation of repeat clients. He had a keen eye for dedicated and skilled employees, whom he guided and instructed in what became the “Baisch tradition.”

Mr. Baisch created a benchmark of expertise and client service that some owners in the industry have come to expect from their consultants. The Baisch philosophy is to work closely with the owner and other members of the project team to determine the most cost-effective solution to a specific challenge. The company was built on handshakes and trust, and trust remains an integral part of the Baisch tradition. Owners came to view Baisch engineers as friendly faces backed up by years of proven experience.

Through his technical expertise, business know-how, and motivational abilities, S. J. Baisch Associates Inc. expanded to more than 50 employees by the mid-1980s. Today, 40 years after he began building his dream, the company has grown to nearly 100 employees and has maintained a strong and respected presence in the pulp and paper industry.

Mr. Baisch’s technical abilities and leadership skills integrated various equipment and process technologies, which assisted owners in exceeding production goals and return on investment

Through his efforts, Baisch Associates participated in several pulp and paper firsts in the U.S. The firm provided engineering services for the first Voith flotation de-inking system, the first triple Fourdrinier linerboard machine installation, the first installation of the Tem-Sec press, and the first installation of a silent felt roll drive.

Mr. Baisch and his staff’s contributions benefited the paper manufacturing sector of the paper industry from woodyard to converting by providing the integrating link between new paper equipment and process technology and their practical application in the manufacturing process.

During his career, he held membership in several professional societies, including American Society of Mechanical Engineers; National Society of Professional Engineers; Wisconsin Society of Professional Engineers; Wisconsin Society of Professionals; Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI), where he served as chairman of Lake States TAPPI and past chairman Corrosion Committee Engineering Division. Mr. Baisch has had numerous technical articles published during his career. In addition, he holds patents for the Oscillating Shower used on paper machines; and the String Inserting Machine for reinforcing paper. He has received honors from Wisconsin Men of Achievement; Who’s Who in Engineering; and Who’s Who in the Midwest. In 1983, he became a partner in the Potsdam Power Company. He serves on the board of Potsdam Paper Corporation, Potsdam, New York, and on the board for Petretex Paper Company, Peoria, Illinois. Public service activities have included Rotary Club, where he served as president for his local chapter; Elks Club; Boy Scouts; Girl Scouts; American Legion; School Board; Regional Plan Commission; and 4th Degree Knights of Columbus. He continues to be active in his church and St. Paul’s Nursing Home.

Mr. Baisch and his first wife, Edith, raised three sons, two of whom are adopted Korean twins. After being widowed for several years, Mr. Baisch married Patricia Schaefer Flanagan.

Mr. Baisch sold the company in January 1985 and retired in 1990. He and Patricia divide their time between homes in Kaukauna and Eagle River, Wisconsin, and Punta Gorda, Florida.

Reinhardt Sabee

Reinhardt Sabee was born north of Cloquet, Minnesota, on September 26, 1914, to Norwegian immigrant parents. He had two brothers and a sister, and the family lived in a log cabin built by his father. As a child, Reiney, as he was called, knew what it was like to roam free in the forests and blueberry swamps, to live among wolves, and to catch fish in the lakes. By the time he was nine, the family had moved to Racine, Wisconsin. When he entered school, he could not speak English, and had never seen an automobile nor indoor plumbing.

After graduating from Racine High School in 1932, he entered the University of Wisconsin – Madison. In 1936, before completing his degree, Mr. Sabee was hired by Fairbanks Morse as a design engineer. In 1939, he earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering and went to work for Kimberly-Clark Corporation as a machine designer. He left Kimberly-Clark in 1942 and served as design engineer and chief engineer for Micromatic Hone Company, and in 1943 he joined Safeway Industries, both of Detroit, in the same capacity.

For a long time, Mr. Sabee had wanted to be in business for himself, and this long-standing desire became reality in 1945 when he founded The R. Sabee Company in Appleton, Wisconsin. Initially, the company designed and constructed manufacturing machinery, much of it focusing on packaging and paper converting.

Mr. Sabee developed a reputation throughout the paper and related industries as an innovator. He was known not only for what his machines were capable of producing, but also for their ease of operation. They were designed to be operated by workers with a minimum of skill and training, rather than requiring the attention of an engineer.

The firm gained a reputation for solving difficult manufacturing problems. For many years, The R. Sabee Company designed and produced manufacturing machinery for other companies, including some of the largest corporations in the country. Mr. Sabee holds nearly 70 patents and several companies have been licensed under those patents. When numerous pharmaceutical companies or consumer goods suppliers requested disposable products covered by his patents, he designed and built machines to produce these products. In some cases, he produced the fabric or other material to manufacture these newly-developed products.

In the early 1950s, The R. Sabee Company took advantage of its founder’s design ability and began to manufacture products other than machinery — disposable diapers among them. Mr. Sabee’s development of spun-bonded fabrics allowed the company to expand its line of products, including disposable hospital garments, surgical underpads, and drape sheets. The company is also a component supplier for pharmaceutical companies, which assemble the materials into products that make up medical procedure kits. In addition, the company manufactures disposable napkins and towels for the airline industry.

Disposable consumer hospital and nursing home products must be affordable, and the Sabee high-speed machine designs make this possible. The use of disposable products eliminated the high cost of labor and product by doing away with the need for laundry, sterilization, contamination, and unsanitary situations.

Other companies he founded include Circle Machinery and Supply Company; Draper Products Co.; and Tuff Spun Fabrics Co.

Mr. Sabee held memberships in three honorary fraternities, Tau Beta Pi; Pi Tau Sigma; and Phi Eta Sigma.

Mr. Sabee was a strong believer in teaching and sharing knowledge of product and machine design. He passed on his enthusiasm and knowledge to his three children and ten grandchildren, many of whom worked with him. For many years, his wife, Lois, worked by his side, and is familiar with all aspects of the business. She has drawn details of new machines and holds many copyrights.

Joseph Parker

Joseph D. Parker was born in Norfolk, Virginia, on August 24, 1928. Following his graduation from Maury High School in 1946, he attended Bullis Preparatory School, from which he graduated in 1947. He was appointed to West Point Military Academy by Senator Harry Byrd, Sr., and was accepted with the highest examination score on record, 99.6. Mr. Parker’s military career was cut short in 1948 when he received an honorable discharge due to a football injury. He enrolled in the College of William and Mary and later received his bachelor of chemical engineering degree from North Carolina State University in 1952. In 1954, he received his master of science degree from The Institute of Paper Chemistry.

While he was attending the Institute, he served three engineering internships: Combined Locks Paper Company, Combined Locks, Wisconsin, in 1952; North Carolina Pulp Company, Plymouth, North Carolina, 1953; and Crown Zellerbach Corporation, Camas, Washington, 1954. Mr. Parker earned his doctorate from the Institute in 1958 and was hired by Beloit Corporation as a research engineer. He served as a visiting research scientist for the Swedish Forest Products Research Institute in 1963 and 1964, after which he was promoted to senior research associate for Beloit Corporation, followed by associate director of research from 1962 until his untimely death in 1972.

Dr. Parker contributed significantly to the understanding of fluid mechanics in the areas of sheet formation, paper machine design and general papermaking. His accomplishments include: supervised the development of the Twinverform paper machine; participated on the lnverform development team; developed the Beloit Converflo hydraulic headbox; developed the Beloit Sheet Splitter and the fiber optic flocculation and consistency probe; and was on the development team for the Bel Baie twin wire former. Included in his many publications was the TAPPI monograph “The Sheet Forming Process”, which is considered the definitive work in the fluid mechanics of pulp suspension drainage. He conducted fundamental research and development, pilot plant work, and field equipment installations in the areas of headbox design; Fourdrinier foil design; flow and formation of high consistency suspension; twin wire forming; flow of turbulent fiber suspensions; and fiber dispersion and orientation in high shear fields.

Dr. Parker held 22 patents, and his many contributions allowed the development of faster paper machines with better formation, which leads to higher production rates of better quality paper. His work on fiber orientation and sheet formation has allowed the papermaker to have better control over sheet characteristics, such as burst, tear, tensile, and porosity.

Dr. Parker was a TAPPI fellow and was an accredited professional chemist, fellow, in the American Institute of Chemists. He was a member of the American Chemical Society; Knight of St. Patrick, North Carolina State; Tau Beta Pi; Gamma Sigma Epsilon; and Phi Eta Sigma.

Dr. Parker enjoyed youth related activities in his free time and served as a troop leader for both the Boy Scouts and the YMCA Indian Guides. He headed the Beloit YMCA fund drive, to which he contributed generously, and served as Sunday School Superintendent, First Congregational Church. He enjoyed playing handball and was the Beloit city champion for three years.

Dr. Parker was 44 years old when he died on July 21, 1972. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and four young children.

John Strange

John Strange was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, on September 17, 1911. He was educated in the public school system through the eighth grade, after which he enrolled in St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin, for his high school education. In 1932, he graduated from Lawrence College, Appleton, Wisconsin, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts degree. During high school and college, he was an enthusiastic athlete and became a top-ranked varsity tennis player.

In 1932, Mr. Strange joined The Institute of Paper Chemistry. In his early years at the Institute, he served in leadership positions with two governmental agencies. During the National Recovery Administration, he served as secretary of the Central Grading Committee. During World War II, he served as chief of the War Products Development Section of the War Production Board. Mr. Strange was secretary, treasurer, and vice president of the Institute and became president in 1955.

Through a remarkable forty years of service at the Institute, Mr. Strange helped guide the educational and research contributions of the institution. As third president of The Institute of Paper Chemistry, Mr. Strange led the institution during a period of enormous change in the paper industry and higher education. He was instrumental in strengthening the Institute both academically and financially. He inspired others to take on the challenges of increasing the breadth and depth of the lnstitute’s research at a time of rapid and scientific technological change and increasing economic and social complexity. His annual presentations at the lnstitute’s Executive’s Conference, regarded as one of the industry’s most prestigious events, were eagerly awaited as learned dissertations on the role of education in addressing the industry’s scientific and technological needs, the economics of paper manufacturing, and emerging trends in industry-related research.

Through graduate education and innovative research, the Institute, under Mr. Strange’s leadership, helped set major directions for the paper industry, providing many of the resources the industry needed to address changing technologies and market forces. It was Mr. Strange and his colleagues who early on pushed for stream surveys and pollution analysis, anticipating the role environmental issues would play in the industry’s future.

Under his leadership, the Institute spearheaded technological developments in many areas, including chemical marking, coatings, and the strength of paperboard. Mr. Strange played a major role in drafting key industry guidelines. The Institute was a leader in expanding the use of nonfibrous additives to facilitate paper production. Nearly all of the original adaptive work on soybean protein was done by the Institute.

During his tenure, the Institute supplied many of the professional technical personnel who were critical to the research and development successes of the industry, as well as a high percentage of CEOs and higher management. The Institute itself, under his leadership, was responsible for groundbreaking advances in many sectors that contributed directly to the prosperity of the paper industry.

In addition to membership on various committees and groups in the pulp and paper industry, Mr. Strange was a member and secretary of the Sulfite Pulp Manufacturer’s Research League. He was also a long-time member of the Fourdrinier Kraft Board Institute, Inc., having joined when it was founded in 1944.

He has served as a director for Cutler-Hammer, lnc.; First National Bank of Appleton; Fox Valley Corporation; Outagamie Corporation; George Banta Company, Inc.; and the Green Bay Packers. He was director and president of The Green Bay & Mississippi Canal Company.

Mr. Strange’s public service activities included serving as a trustee for Lawrence University (for over 50 years) and Wayland Academy. He was a member and president of the Appleton School Board and participated in committees and served on boards of the YMCA; Boy Scouts of America; and Appleton Medical Center.

He received two honorary doctor of science degrees, one from Lawrence University and one from Ripon College. He was also awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree from Beloit College.

Mr. Strange died at home in Appleton, Wisconsin, on August 30, 1992. He and his wife, Mary, raised three children. She continues to reside in Appleton.

Herbert Ortner

Herbert Ortner was born May 7, 1932 in Graz, Austria. In spite of World War II, he had a very happy childhood with his parents, Hermann and Louise, and his elder brother, Gerhard. He considered himself fortunate to be able to study in his hometown, and earned his engineering degree in mechanical engineering and pulp and paper technology in 1958, as well as his doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Technical University in Graz in 1961. Unfortunately, his father died in 1956 at the age of 58 and, therefore, did not see Dr. Ortner’s achievements.

After his studies at the Technical University, plus a year and a half of work as a shift foreman at the Leykam Paper Mill at Gratkorn, Austria, Dr. Ortner began his assignment as a research engineer at the Voith Paper Research Institute, Heidenheim, Germany, on October 1, 1959. Here, among other responsibilities, he was decisively engaged in the development of the flotation-deinking process for the recycling of printed waste paper and introducing this recycling process to the world wide paper industry.

When he completed his doctoral degree in 1961, his thesis was entitled “On the Application of Flotation for the Cleaning of Printed Waste Paper, Especially for the Removal of the Printing Ink”. At the end of 1965, he was transferred to technical sales of the newly established Voith Stockpreparation Division and, in 1967, he was promoted to chief engineer of this department. In 1970, he became mill manager of the Pulp and Paper Mill Brigl & Bermeister at Niklasdorf, Austria, Styria.

Dr. Ortner returned to Voith in 1972 as chief engineer of the Integrated Pulp and Paper Mill department. He was appointed head of the Voith Stockpreparation Division in 1973. In 1976, he was promoted to vice president and general manager. The division received world wide recognition and an excellent international reputation under his leadership. Since October 1994, he has been senior vice president Integrated Paper Mill Projects of Voith Sulzer Paper Technology, with main emphasis on Far-East and Southeast Asia.

The hallmark of Dr. Ortner’s professional career at Voith was the application of science and fundamental principles to advance papermaking and paper recycling, including flotation de-inking. He combined his vast knowledge of the entire papermaking process with his innovative and creative thinking to develop new processes and to improve existing ones to meet the needs of the industry. When he began this work in 1959, only a few mills were deinking recovered papers. By 1978, about 125 flotation de-inking plants were in operation, with an annual production of over 2.5 million tons. Dr. Ortner continued improving and promoting flotation so that by 1985, there were 230 flotation de-inking plants world wide producing about 7 million tons.

Dr. Ortner’s presentations at conferences and his list of publications and patents have covered a broad range of topics, including coating, refining, sizing, surface treatment of paper, screening, recovered paper repulping, dispersion and kneading, high consistency pulping, and overall plant system design.

Dr. Ortner is a member of Academic Engineers Association at the Technical University, Graz Austria (APV); Austrian Pulp & Paper Chemists and Engineers Association (OEZEPA); German Pulp & Paper Chemists and Engineers Association (Zellcheming); and Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI).

On September 30, 1998, at age 66, Dr. Ortner retired. He continues to be available for the company as a special consultant. Dr. Ortner and his wife, Christa, have raised two children. His leisure activities include skiing, tennis, biking, swimming, sailing, and mountain biking.  (Dr. Ortner died in 2013)

Charles Clark

Charles Clark was born in Theresa, New York, on August 24, 1844, to Luther and Theda Tamblin Clark. When he was nine years old, his father died. Two years later, Charley, as he was known to family and friends, moved to Neenah, Wisconsin, with his widowed mother.

On the day of his arrival, the 11-year-old, desperately in need of work, applied for a job at Robert Hold’s lath and furniture factory. He was told there were no openings, but as he looked around at all the men and boys at work, he argued that there must be something he could do. Mr. Hold, impressed with Charley’s spunk, asked his foreman to find a spot for the boy. Luckily, a workman had just quit, so Mr. Hold told the boy that he could start work bending chairs the next morning. Charley asked if he could start immediately and Mr. Hold agreed. His wage was $7.00 a month.

Mr. Clark’s self-confidence pushed him to the top in every situation he encountered. In August 1862, the 18-year-old enlisted as a private in the 21st Regiment of the Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry. He fought in a series of Civil War clashes, beginning with the Battle of Chaplin Hills in October 1862. He marched from Atlanta to the sea with the army of William Tecumseh Sherman. He quickly rose through the ranks to first lieutenant and finally captain. After Captain Clark was mustered out on June 17, 1865, he returned to Neenah and partnered with H. P. Leavens in a hardware store.

In 1867, Mr. Clark married Caroline Hubbard of Neenah, and the couple eventually had three children — one son and two daughters.

In 1872, the 28-year-old veteran recruited John Alfred Kimberly to join him in building a paper mill, subsequently known as the Globe Mill. This led to the creation of a partnership known as Kimberly, Clark and Company. Because they needed more capital, Mr. Clark sought out two additional partners, Havilah Babcock and Frank C. Shattuck. Mr. Clark’s equity in the venture was $10,000; Mr. Kimberly’s $7,000; Mr. Babcock’s $7,000; and Mr. Shattuck’s $6,000.

The founders agreed on a basic operating policy that encompassed the following principles: manufacture the best possible product; serve customers well and deal fairly to gain their confidence and good will; deal fairly with employees; expand capacity as demand for product justifies; and finance expansion out of earnings.

In 1889, after eight years in business, the company was incorporated with capital stock of $400,000 — all of it from earnings.

Mr. Clark, along with John Alfred Kimberly, kept his fingers on every aspect of the growing business. Mr. Clark was considered a born leader and a tireless builder and manager. He directed mill operations and related activities. Mr. Kimberly oversaw sales and finances.

Kimberly, Clark and Company’s early strategy combined entrepreneurial marketing and management with aggressive expansion. In 1874, after two years in business, the company purchased the Red Mill, which was later demolished and rebuilt as the Neenah Mill. In 1876, the company expanded the Globe Mill with the purchase of the company’s first Fourdrinier machine, which produced finished paper in a continuous roll.

In 1878, the company built Atlas Paper Company, a brick pulp and paper facility in Appleton, twice the size of the other two mills. Atlas specialized in fancy manila wrapping paper and eventually produced printing paper, bond paper, photo album paper, and colored papers. Although it lacked university trained scientists and a laboratory, Atlas achieved a reputation for innovative products, including toilet paper and related processes. It was the first mill in the state to produce paper made largely from ground or mechanical wood pulp.

Over the years, more mills were added at a rapid pace. A new mill was built in the wilderness east of Appleton, and since there were no facilities for the company employees who would be relocating, the company carved out a social and business community that could accommodate them. Farm land and water power rights were acquired along the Fox River; cinder roads and plank sidewalks were laid out; a hotel and 60 houses were built; and additional lots were sold for housing. The result was the village of Kimberly, where the company built a state-of-the-art, three-machine print mill; a 25-ton groundwood pulp mill; a 3-ton sulfite pulp mill; and a 10-ton straw wrapping paper mill.

Mr. Clark was a member of the Neenah City Council and also served as mayor of the city. He was elected to the Wisconsin General Assembly in 1884. In 1886, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until 1890. Soon after retiring from Congress, Mr. Clark became ill. In September 1891, while visiting his childhood home in Theresa, New York, Mr. Clark died. He was 47 years old.