Meet Team Kadant - Tom Vaughn, Vice President, Corporate Accounts
Department/Title: Vice President, Corporate Accounts
Worked at Kadant Since: 1994
Tell me about your career path and how you got to Kadant.
This is my 40th year of work and 39th year in the paper industry. I started at Albany International in 1977 and worked in a variety of roles from customer service, field service, territory sales, and sales management. When Thermo acquired AES, I moved to Queensbury as Vice President, Sales and Marketing. I have since been Vice President, Marketing for Kadant Solutions Division and now serve as Vice President, Corporate Accounts where I represent all Kadant companies in the U.S.
What do you think is the most important quality for success?
Integrity and persistence. When dealing directly with customers at all levels one must develop relationships with trust, honesty, and integrity. One of my personal goals is to return a customer phone call or e-mail within 24 hours whether I have an answer for the customer or to tell them I am working on it.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Actually, a couple lessons to think about. Having traveled most of my 40 years, find ways to take care of yourself physically and mentally. Try to walk or work out when on the road. It really helps after hours of driving and flying to stretch and exercise. In addition, it is important to balance work and family life. Sometimes work takes over your brain but try and leave it outside the door when you get home.
How did you become interested in sales & marketing?
It just seemed kind of natural. Everyone in the company is a salesperson in one way or another, especially if they have direct customer contact. Each of us represents the company and our actions or lack of action is a reflection on the company we work for. I believe the variety of sales and dealing with a variety of customers keeps things fresh.
What trends have you seen in the pulp and paper industry over the last 20 years and what do you see being the future?
It has been tumultuous these past 20 years with mill closures, mergers, e-commerce, the death of the weekly magazine and the daily newspaper. The good news for the U.S. is the containerboard and consumer products segments are very strong. Our customers have told us they predicted an upturn in corrugated packaging demand due to e-commerce, but none of them predicted the “Amazon effect” and the velocity of growth in box shipments. This will continue to grow at a fast pace for the foreseeable future.
Tell me about your family.
Cindy and I have been married 35 years this June. Our kids are spread out across the U.S. now with our oldest daughter living in Lexington, Kentucky with her husband and two of our grandkids. Our next daughter is a nurse practitioner in Fairfax, Virginia and married to a trial lawyer. They just had their first baby three months ago. Our son “retired” in 2017 as a VP and commercial loan officer for a bank in D.C. and just finished his first year studying for his MBA at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Do you have a bucket list? What would be the top item on your list?
I knocked off one of my bucket list items by going to the Kentucky Derby in May 2017. Luckily, I have been to the World Series, The Masters, and The US Open in golf and tennis. On my current list are trips to Italy in October 2018 and Australia/New Zealand with my wife.
Do you have a favorite sports team? How did you become a fan?
As many know, I am a die-hard NY Yankee fan and have been since I was seven years old when I went to my first game at Yankee Stadium and Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris both homered in the game. Always nice to have 27 world championships in your legacy.
Have you read any good books lately?
I read all the time. Mostly fiction but not always. I enjoy authors like Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, David Baldacci, and Robert Ludlum. Some of the more interesting non-fiction I have read in the past year include Brain on Fire, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, and Red Notice. The first has a happy ending and shows the benefit of persistence in life. The second is about an incredibly brilliant student brought up in poverty, graduates from Yale but can’t escape the street life. The third is a very interesting and scary book about doing business in Russia under the Putin regime.