Longtime Finch Paper Chairman Richard J. Carota Dies at 73
GLENS FALLS, NY—July 11, 2010—Richard J. Carota, the one-time union laborer who rose to become Paper Industry Executive of the Year as chairman, president and CEO of Glens Falls, NY-based Finch, Pruyn & Co., Inc., and its successor, Finch Paper LLC, passed away on Saturday, July 10, 2010, at Ellis Hospital in Schenectady, NY. He was 73 years old, and had determinedly fought an illness that began in September 2009.
Mr. Carota retired from Finch on February 2, 2009, after 53 years of service, 26 of which were served as the company's chairman, president and CEO. He was the first person who was not a member of the founding families of Finch, Pruyn to be elected chairman, president and CEO of the now-145-year-old company. He was also one of the few former labor union officers to become the CEO of a major American paper manufacturer.
In 1993, Mr. Carota was honored as the Paper Industry Executive of the Year by the Paper Industry Management Association. At the time, he told hundreds of industry executives gathered in his honor in San Diego, "I've never considered myself the only idea person at Finch, Pruyn. I've had more responsibility than other people, but I've believed the only way we could succeed was if we pooled everyone's ideas. Teamwork has helped us accomplish some great things."
Mr. Carota's leadership was widely credited for keeping the Finch mill operating during the late 1990s and early 2000s as dozens of other American paper mills were forced to close due to troublesome economic conditions. Among his most significant career accomplishments at Finch, Mr. Carota: expanded the company's market presence and product mix, developing a nationwide network of Finch Paper merchants; spearheaded the company's entrance into the premium text and cover paper market, with the introductions of the Finch Fine and Finch Premium Blend products; and championed Finch's receipt of the coveted Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) green certifications for the company's forestry practices and its products. He also oversaw a $20-million modernization of the company's largest and most productive paper machine; the development of a $25-million cogeneration plant that has made the company largely energy-independent; and the company's $10-million conversion to an elemental chlorine-free pulp bleaching process to protect the environment.