A Brief History of NPTA
NPTA was formed over dinner at Delmonico’s in New York City in December 1903 by 17 paper merchants from around the country. Founding members included companies such as the Cincinnati Cordage & Paper Co., Bradner Smith, George W. Millar, J.E. Linde Paper Co., Hubbs & Corning Co., Beecher, Peck & Lewis and W.F. McQuillen, Storrs & Bement Co.
Orlando A. Miller of The Central Ohio Paper Co. was elected as the first president. He held the first annual meeting of the Association on February 9, 1904, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
Over the next 10 years, membership grew to 200 companies in paper trade and included regional associations that were already in existence at the time.
NPTA’s growth throughout the 20th century was consistent with the rise of paper manufacturing and the merchant business in the United States.
Highlights of the last century include:
- During World War I, NPTA President George Olmsted, Sr., of the J.W. Butler Paper Co., along with NPTA Secretary William C. Ridgway, assisted Thomas E. Donnelly of R.R. Donnelly & Sons. Ridgway headed the Government Control of Paper, Printing and Publishing Industries.
- As the paper merchant business began to mature in the 1920s, the definition of the paper distributor's place in the channel clarified. Speaking in 1928, W.N. Gilbert of the Chicago Paper Co., who was also vice president of NPTA at the time, summed up the role of the paper merchant this way: "The chief function of a paper merchant, as I see it, is to get paper and paper products to market at the lowest possible cost, commensurate with service required and with a proper provision for a reasonable merchant profit."
- As the war effort began to work the country out of its depression, essential industries, like pulp and paper, were in greater demand. "We are all aware of the misfortunes, the tragedies, which attend some of the early shipments of war materials," reported Corwine Roach of Capital City Paper, then-President of NPTA. He was speaking in 1943 to the Association’s Wrapping Paper Division. "The recollection of desperate Marines opening waterlogged packages, or inspecting eagerly awaited machine parts only to find them corroded, is not a pretty one. The solution represents one of paper’s great contributions to victory."
- The late Stan Styles was a "dollar-a-year man" on the War Production Board and served on the Civilian Production Board during World War II. He served on an advisory board of merchants that acted as a voice for the industry. "When problems arose," he said, "this group had the opportunity to go to Washington and speak its piece."
- In 1947, Stan Styles joined NPTA after a 35-year career with the Martin Cantine Paper Company in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley. He stayed with NPTA for a second career of 35 years. Stan passed away at the age of 95, and NPTA named its industry excellence award in his honor.
- In the years after World War II, many influential, decent people came to the forefront of the industry. NPTA was lucky to have them participate in making the association become a leading force in support of paper distribution.
- In the second half of the 20th century, the industry experienced significant change as small, family-held, paper distribution firms consolidated into large, multi-location regional and national operations. However, each of those companies strong is their strong people. Leadership is a constant in this industry.
"NPTA is our trade association, and is focused on the supply chain and the overall paper trade process."
– Travis Mlakar, President, The Millcraft Paper Company