For the record: Mike Barry

In each 2013 issue of Graphic Arts Magazine, we will be interviewing an interesting member of the graphic communications industry and asking them for their opinion on a few important topics. Every month we will be interviewing someone who represents a different part of the industry (technology, paper and printing, for example) so stay tuned for each interesting viewpoint!

This month, we had the opportunity to speak with Mike Barry, Graphic Arts Market Segment Manager at Monadnock Paper Mills, which is based in New Hampshire and is the oldest continuously operating paper mill in the U.S.

What is your stance on offset vs. digital?

It has been exciting to watch the development of digital printing over the 40 years I have been in the industry. The advances in quality, speed, and applications of digital printing have been nothing short of breathtaking. Having said that, I believe offset printing, with its quality and efficiency, will continue to be around for many years to come.

Can you comment on the ‘(our world is going) paperless’ debate?

Our senses of touch and sight provide designers with additional dimensions in design. Paper, with its varying surface properties and colour palette, is part of the whole brand experience. Designers carefully select paper finish and colour to enhance the message. In addition, I think marketers have realized over the past few years that a combination of electronic communication and print communication are a necessary marriage in order to achieve the best results.

Inherently, the electronic world will continue to reduce the need for paper. However, to state that e-communications are better for the environment is unsubstantiated. After some thoughtful consideration, several large financial institutions have pulled “paperless” marketing campaigns for this very reason – it is greenwashing.

What’s one problem that the paper industry could have already solved but hasn’t?

I think the paper industry needs to continue to improve the perception that people have about the industry. Contrary to most people’s beliefs, paper mills do have positive effects on our forests. According to the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, a land conservation organization, it is important to keep the forest-based economy strong in order to continue to protect and grow the share of wood supply. Forests regenerate naturally and vigorously when they are well managed, which includes timber harvest for all sorts of markets and products.

Contrary to popular belief, paper production supports sustainable forest management.

Paper is actually one of the few truly sustainable products – it’s renewable and recyclable.

While it is true that making paper consumes energy, most of it is renewable energy.

Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world.

What makes you happy to come into the work in the morning?

I have always loved the paper industry. It is filled with great, honest, hardworking people, and it is an industry to be proud of. Despite the decline in manufacturing in North America over the last several decades, paper is still manufactured here at a world class level.

What keeps you up at night?

At Monadnock Paper Mills, we are always challenging ourselves to identify ways to help to solve problems across a variety of industries. I am always thinking ahead to the next innovation we can help drive for traditional paper applications and beyond.

What do you believe makes profit leaders in the paper industry different from the rest?

Fundamentally, profit leaders have the ability to efficiently manufacture and distribute the papers they take to the market. However, beyond that, I believe that adaptability and innovation are what keeps a paper company a profit leader. With the changes in print technology and the declining demand in some paper segments, new product development is essential to a company’s long term sustainability.

At Monadnock we’ve always adhered to the following tenet:

“In the long term, the economy and the environment are the same thing. If it’s unenvironmental, it is uneconomical. That is the rule of nature.” Mollie Beattie, former director U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

What do you miss about the “good old days”?

Today there is a lack of information about paper available to designers. The Paper Specification Representative (Spec Rep) is bordering on extinction. Designers tell me today they feel out of the loop when it comes to knowing what is new, current and available. All of that is now harder to get.


Diana Varma is an Instructor at the School of Graphic Communications Management at Ryerson University and the Owner of ON-SITE First Aid & CPR Training Group, a health & safety company that provides training to the Graphic Arts Industry.