Profiles in Paper: Marc Forman
Q & A Interview with MARC FORMAN
Q: When and how did you enter the recycling industry?
A: I joined what was then Harmon Associates, a Westbury, N.Y.-based subsidiary of Fort Howard, in April 1991. With my background in accounting and finance, I joined Harmon as a finance director. It didn’t take me long to realize that all the action was on the trading side, and within a year I was getting my indoctrination in the wacky world of buying and selling recovered paper. Since then, it’s been quite a ride!
Q: What was it about the industry that prompted you to build a career in it?
A: To be honest, I was between jobs and took the interview with Harmon with no expectations. I could never have dreamed that after almost 30 years the industry and the company would be such a big part of my life. I especially value the relationships I’ve built with my colleagues, my customers and peers, and the people with whom we do business.
Q: What have been your most rewarding professional achievements?
A: Long before I joined Harmon, it had a rich history and a great reputation in the industry. I’m extremely proud to be part of a leadership team that has been able to retain so many of the great attributes of our past while at the same time moving forward and adapting to the many and varied challenges of the markets. We’ve managed to continue reinventing ourselves through innovation, ingenuity, and—at times—pure determination.
Q: Personal achievements?
A: Last year, I battled through some pretty tough medical issues. The caring and support from my co-workers, friends, and so many people in the industry was overwhelming. It’s something I’ll never forget.
Q: What are you passionate about?
A: I’ve always loved the business of business. I’m intrigued by free markets—how they develop and why they thrive. Recycling is a “love it or hate it” business; it can totally consume you. I’m extremely passionate about creating value for our suppliers and customers by developing win-win, sustainable business relationships. I’ve learned the hard way that no matter what I think, if the other party won’t put a value on the services and capabilities we provide, it’s not a business we should be in.
Q: Tell us something about you that would surprise people.
A: I screen-tested for roles in TV commercials when I was a kid.
Q: If you could improve anything about yourself, what would it be?
A: Believe me, I’m a work in progress—my family and my team will tell you there’s an endless list. I constantly must balance my passion and aggressiveness with patience. Improving my listening skills is something I’m always working on as well.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I’m a family man through and through. I love my girls, so I spend as much time with them as I can. And I hope that one day I’ll have a grandchild or two to spoil.
Q: When and why did your company decide to join ISRI and the PSI Chapter?
A: I’m not sure of the history, but I believe GP was a member long ago and then dropped out. When I became president of the business, I reinstated our membership because I felt GP needed a voice on the important issues that ISRI and PSI take on.
Q: Have you held any volunteer leadership positions within PSI?
A: I haven’t held any PSI leadership positions. I take the lead for GP on the American Forest & Paper Association’s Recovered Fiber Committee, and felt I couldn’t give my full commitment to PSI. I’ve been involved in several PSI panel discussions and subcommittees over the years. I’m delighted that my GP colleague Ray Oge has become a key member of the executive board at PSI, currently serving as the chapter’s Secretary/Treasurer.
Q: What benefits have you received from your PSI involvement?
A: I find it invaluable to take part in the interchange of ideas between members with different points of view on the major issues facing our industry.
Q: What are the major challenges facing your company and the overall recycling industry today?
A: The recycling industry is faced with a complex set of issues, with both short- and long-term supply/demand implications. There are no quick answers or easy fixes to these issues. Many of us who have been through the prior cycles are being forced to rethink our mental models and develop new ways to operate in these conditions. For example, our company is launching a promising new recycling technology— Juno™ Technology—and one of the biggest hurdles is simply getting people to think beyond the way things flow today.
Reach Marc Forman at email@example.com