"And the shareholder is not a bunch of rich guys on Wall Street," notes Dunlap. "It's the pension funds; it's your mother and father."
Yes, but in the 1980s, the jobs of a lot of mothers and fathers were sacrificed to the enrichment of corporate manipulators who stripped companies down. Is that pattern repeating? Labor consultant Audrey Freedman says no, the '90s are different. "Slash and burn downsizing is over," says Freedman. "Now it's selling other assets to reinvest in core businesses where the company can succeed."
That's really what Dunlap has done at Scott, returning it to being a consumer products company rather than a diversified producer of paper for packaging and business uses.
The question after such a burst of success is about the long-term: If he can reform a company, can he also manage it? Dunlap says yes and points to investments in new, efficient tissue plants in Owensboro, Ky., and Yucca, Ariz., and to new ventures for Scott in China and India. "Factories fold tissue by hand in those countries, and our machines can do thousands of cases a minute, so you can see the potential we have," he says.
A successful man who seldom misses a chance to note that his father was a union shop steward and that his mother worked in Woolworth's, Dunlap holds to a management credo that is more West Point than business school. "You take the tough decisions and ultimately you get respect," he says. "And the most important thing in business is respect."
Makes you think maybe West Point isn't a bad business school.
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Soaring Stock Price
Scott Paper Co. stock has shot up in the last year. Monthly closes, except latest: (see newspaper for chart)
Friday: $84.625, up 37.5 cents