Capital Argument $

A trademark of Paperitalo Publications
Published on the 15th of every month
January 2017
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Suppliers or contractors saving their reputations on your project does not mean you are happy with the outcome

This being Capital Projects Month across all our publications here at Paperitalo means that my mind has been working overtime thinking about the some of the follies and pitfalls I have seen over the decades.
A most memorable project was a design/build turbine generator project at a mill in the US mid-south.  Geniuses in the corporate office thought they would save a ton of money if they just wrote a design/build specification for what they wanted, put it out for bid and selected the lowest bidder.  
So they did this.
They wrote a specification that said the unit had to be of a certain capacity, achieve certain outputs with specified inputs, reach a specific average annual operating days milestone and so forth.  And, of course, it had to be constructed and operated within all applicable local, state, and federal codes.
They got exactly what they asked for.
Of course, they forgot a few things.  Such as that it would be nice for the control room to be something of a pleasing place to spend your shift. That it might be handy if the MCC room was close to a door where one might be able to park a fork truck with new parts or be able to take away old parts.
You get the idea.
Of course, during construction, the owner's representatives brought up these matters as they saw them develop.  The design/build firm smiled and presented a change order each time. 
And they were all turned down.
Because the CEO had already bragged to the board about his own brilliance and there was no way he would ask for more money.
So, at the end to the project, the design/build contractors walked away, reputation intact, for they had followed the bid specification exactly and were on time and on budget.  They even made the owner's rep sign a letter to this effect.
The CEO continued to sit at his desk in a city far away, operating the full-length curtains on the million dollar view out his office windows with a remote control on his desk--don't want the sun to bleach the furniture unevenly, you know.
Of course, he is retired now, probably spends a lot of time on his boat at Cape Cod.
And the employees in the mill continue to lug and manhandle parts that need to be switched out.  And each crew continues to come to work in the closet that is called a control room. 
And they wonder why they have a union in this mill?

Engineering Manager of the Year, call for nominations

We are looking for an individual who has done an extraordinary project, one that almost defies belief.  Its extraordinary features can be schedule, technology, cost or all three.
We have often gotten nominees that go something like this, "I nominate Joe because he has done a great job of running our engineering department for the last fifteen years." Quite frankly, we are not interested in such nominees.
However, if you know someone who has led a very exceptional project in the recent past (the last two or three years), we want to know about it.  We want to honor them and hold them up as an example for Engineering Managers in every pulp and paper mill around the world.
Just send your nomination, with as much details as you can provide, to  We will seriously consider it.

Current Patent Activity is available here.

Capital Arguments Engineering Manager of the Year
Hall of Fame

CA Logo
Since its inception, Capital Arguments has believed extraordinary projects are possible.  They can be done safely, responsibly and offer a great advantage to their mills with lower capital costs and saved downtime. We established this award in 2008 to recognize those people and companies that follow this philosophy. This award is given once per year somewhere in the world.  We honor our inductees permanently here.


Mac Switkowski--Engineering Manager of the Year 2015

Mac Switkowski, center, holds his Capital Arguments Engineering Manager of the Year Award that was presented by Paperitalo CEO Jim Thompson, left, as Luis Henao, right, vice president at Pratt Industries applauds.  Mac brought the new mill at Valparaiso in on time and on budget despite a change of paper machine suppliers mid project.

Not Awarded 2014

You have to be really good to get this award.  We did not receive any qualifying nominations in 2014.


Not Awarded 2013

You have to be really good to get this award.  We did not receive any qualifying nominations in 2013.

Not Awarded 2012

You have to be really good to get this award.  We did not receive any qualifying nominations in 2012.


Ed Kersey--Engineering Manager of the Year 2011

Jim p resents Ed with the Engineering Manager of the Year for 2011.
(L - R) Matt Nilsen, Jim Thompson, Ed Kersey and Wayne South.  Nilsen is Account Manager and South is Business Development Manager for Kadant Black Clawson, underwriter of this year's award.  Ed Managed the construction of the Pratt Industries mill in Shreveport, Louisiana which took 13 months from piling to paper on the reel.  His reward?  They made him mill manager!

Peter Flynn and Steve Roush

Kadant Black Clawson was a major sponsor of the 2011 Award.  Here, on the left,  Peter Flynn, President of Kadant Black Clawson, receives the company's duplicate of Ed's Award from Steve Roush, Publisher and Editor, Paperitalo Publications. 

Not Awarded 2010

You have to be really good to get this award.  We did not receive any qualifying nominations in 2010.


Dean Abrams--Engineering Manager of the Year 2009

Now retired, Dean was an engineer at Corrugated Services, Forney, Texas, USA in the summer of 2009 when he completed his award winning project.  Dean managed a team that installed a secondary headbox in 11 hours, 30 minutes, paper-to-paper.  The experts had said it would take at least 3 days.  In April 2010, we presented the award to Dean in the presence of a number of his colleagues.

Dean Abrams Award 
Here is the award we presented to Dean:

Deans Plaque


Mike Ahcan--Engineering Manager of the Year 2008

Mike works at the UPM Blandin Mill in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, USA. In 2008, the mill's sole effluent pipe, running outside a building, almost in the Mississippi River, was determined to be in a state of imminent collapse.  The experts said it would take a week of total mill downtime to replace it.  Additionally, there was a danger of leakage into the river.  Mike and his team went to work and replaced the pipe without any downtime and with no spillage.  We had a banquet in Grand Rapids for him in July 2009.

OpTest Official Solid Background

And here is Mike's award:

OpTest Official Solid Background

We normally accept nominations in the November-December time frame.  They can be sent to with "EMOY Nomination" in the subject line. 

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