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Engineered for achievement: Carl Marschke: engineer, inventor, and innovator Carl Marschke is TAPPI's Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal recipient for 2003.

When Carl Marschke first discovered the corrugated industry, he had no plans to revolutionize the manufacture of its products. Less than 30 years later, Marschke is receiving credit for many critical technological developments including splicers that offer 100% paper utilization; thin blade slitting that increases edge quality an industry standard; and beltless double backers that improve board quality. The founder of Marquip and chief technical officer of MarquipWardUnited, Marschke holds 44 patents for a range of innovations that have had a profound impact on the entire corrugated industry.

In recognition of these achievements, Marschke is receiving the Gunner Nicholson Gold Medal Award for 2003 the highest honor that TAPPI can bestow upon an individual. It is granted to those who have made preeminent scientific and engineering achievements of proven commercial benefit to the world's pulp, paper, board and forest product industries. Solutions! managing editor Janice Bottiglieri recently interviewed Marschke about his career contributions to the corrugated industry.

When did you first realize that you wanted to become an inventor?

When I was seven or eight years old, I used to do aluminum molding with my great uncle in the coal-fired furnace at our home in Rib Lake, Wisconsin. I learned from him that we can make things with our hands if we know the technique. During that time, my father and I spent our Saturdays at the welding shop owned by a mink rancher in Rib Lake. This gave me the opportunity to become familiar with using a wide variety of tools.

You have been responsible for many engineering developments within the corrugating industry. Which do you think have had the greatest impact on the manufacture of corrugated board? Front which have you derived the most personal satisfaction?

Marquip began developing a splicer in 1975. At that time, there was a huge housing industry recession caused by high interest rates. The company was completing automation projects tot the building products industry. At one point, we did not sell anything for six months.

Then we discovered the corrugated industry. I'll never forget the comment by our man who stopped in at Green Bay Packaging--"they have no idea there's a recession going on." Our company developed all its products to do something that was not available in the market first with the splicer, then with the stacker, cut-off knives, then slitter/scorers. Coming up with new techniques and opportunities for our customers drove other suppliers to improve their product lines too. Productivity today with the same number of corrugators in the United States is twice what it was in 1976. That did not happen by accident.

Did coming from outside the industry give you an advantage from an engineering standpoint?

Certainly, at times it did. We did not need to worry about our existing product line or what we were going to do with a two-year supply of castings that were seasoning. That gave us an opportunity to look at problems that required solution. We examined the physics of operations to develop some unique solutions.

Your contributions to the manufacture of corrugating have benefited not only your own company and your career but also the entire industry. What has motivated you to contribute on such a deep level?

Ayn Rand writes that one's self worth belongs to the individual not the society. Each person has a responsibility to do with it what he can. This formed the basis for my personal and business philosophy. My wife and I decided that, if i could become a machinery manufacturer, I could contribute to improving the productivity of the United States in a way that I could not do as an independent person.

Another thing that motivated me was the idea of giving something back. If I could provide meaningful jobs that allowed workers to grow in their technical capacity, I felt they would also grow personally.

In addition, our company would grow and become more technically competent to allow us to supply the industry better. Over the years, we have had approximately 4000 people come through Marquip's doors. All of those people have become better trained. That has been a huge satisfaction for me.

What technological advancements do you foresee for the corrugating industry?

A large section of the corrugated industry has been coasting based on consolidations, and more corrugated box plants will close as the industry settles out. As a result, the big integrated players in the market have brought in little new equipment. Technology is changing to increase the width of the production facilities and increase the production speed over what has been the standard for the past ten years. In markets where large integrated companies have several plants, I foresee that they will consolidate into a few "mega-plants" with high speed, high production corrugating systems.

We must be competitive within our own industry and try to halt the advance of plastics. I think we can do it with low-cost production. We have a product based on renewable resources--paper and starch. The product is recyclable, which is a tremendous advantage. The product is engineered because it has a stronger structure after fluting and gluing. With these advantages, I am amazed that we are not doing better than we are.

How can upper management best support technological innovation and achievement within their own companies?

Companies cannot save themselves rich. They must be making investments and taking appropriate risks to reach the head of the pack and stay there. This philosophy has driven all I have done with my business and has helped us create new products that have changed the industry.

I hope that upper management learns this lesson before it is too late for their companies. Taking the right risks means having the technical understanding of the consequences of decisions. Doing nothing is also a decision.

You have been involved in a variety of professional and industry organizations including TAPPI. What role have these organizations played in your career?

I have used all these organizations to further my technical and business understanding so I could do a better job and continue my learning process. The organizations have helped me stay technically sharp when I needed new knowledge.

I can think of no higher honor than being recognized by my technically competent peers for what I have accomplished in this industry. I plan to continue my development efforts and keep the legacy going. Waking up in the morning is fun when I realize I can make a difference.

Carl Marschke's spirit of engineering innovation will not fade when he chooses to retire. It will live on in the scores of young people who have been involved with Young Scientists of America Inc. (YSA), the Phillips, Wisconsin, USA hands-on project experience to foster an interest in science, mathematics, and technology in children aged 8-18.

As a manager, Marschke noted a lack of practical experience in newly hired engineers. "I felt that finding a way to teach hands-on skills that young people could learn at an early age would provide a basic understanding that they could use later as engineers to move forward in developing new equipment or new ideas," he said.

An emphasis on early, hands-on experience makes the program unique. Children work with their parents as "sponsors" and with experienced professionals as "mentor." This environment gives them an opportunity to do things beyond normal expectations. "We have had young people aged eleven learn welding," Marschke said. "I know the program has changed the lives of some children. They have decided to take technical courses that they might not have taken."

YSA is now a component of the University of Wisconsin College of Engineering in Madison where the program can reach more young people. As Marschke reported, I am afraid we ran out of young scientist in our neighborhood!"

IN THIS ARTICLE, YOU WILL LEARN:

* What has motivated Marschke In develop scores of innovative products for the corrugated industry

* What predictions Marschke has for future corrugated industry developments.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

* To learn more about the Gunner Nicholson Gold Medal or to submit a nominee, go to http://www.tappi.org/index.asp?rc=1&pid=16228

* To learn more about Carl Marschke and his engineering developments, visit http//www.marquip.com/marquip/renews188.htm
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Interview
Author:Bottiglieri, Janice
Publication:Solutions - for People, Processes and Paper
Date:Mar 1, 2003
Words:1371
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