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Ken Li, Mill Manager, Alabama Newsprint Company

Alabama River Newsprint Company (ARN) is just beginning to look at how their company culture needs to change. Ken Li, the mill manager of ARN, arrived two years ago at a time when change was not a high priority for mill employees.

Changes in key managerial positions and a severe market downturn had created tremendous uncertainty and anxiety. And this non-unionized mill, while founded on the team concept, through time has functioned departmentally. In order to become more competitive in a tight market, Ken recognized he’d need to leverage both technical and human resources. While biding his time and building trust, he knew by the second year that it was time to act. He brought in Roundstone to begin training employees. A recent meeting facilitated by Kathy Grad brought the breakthrough they had been waiting for.

“Today, for the ?rst time in 12 years, I heard our managers’ hearts in every word they spoke,” says Peggy Owens, Finishing and Shipping Operator. “I learned they do care about us. I heard them remind us that they are human too. I see them now through different eyes. Today, I rose to a new level of respect for them.“

“Our staff got to see that our seven senior managers are vulnerable, honorable, ordinary people,” says Ken Li. “We are starting to create a common language. It’s working. People are talking and beginning to look at each other differently.”

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