Meet Team Kadant – Jan Walter, Sales Development Manager
Department/Title: Sales Development Manager
Worked at Kadant Johnson Since: July 2011
Tell me about your career path and how you got to Kadant.
The first job out of college was a lab rat (what my father called me) working in product development and running paper mill trials at Allied Paper in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I finished my seven years at the mill as an off-machine coating production manager. Next came filtration at Ronningen-Petter (now Eaton) supporting the sales managers and sales representatives selling products to the paper industry; I spent fifteen years working in sales, marketing, and engineering and traveling the world. I then jumped over to Western Michigan University as the manager of the paper and printing pilot plants. I had the privilege of contributing to the construction of the coater pilot plant and installation of the transplanted Boise Cascade pilot coater. After that I spent some time working for a potato starch company, selling and marketing their product to papermakers. Then my career took a very fortunate turn and landed me at Kadant Johnson, working with customers in diverse process industries.
What’s one thing you’ve learned in your time at Kadant?
That our customers, be they resellers or end users, really appreciate our responsive service and quality product.
What do you think is the most important quality for success?
Listening skills – hearing what your customers say and don’t say.
Any special recognitions, awards or accomplishments you’re particularly proud of?
I was fortunate to have the support of the companies I worked for to participate in TAPPI (Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industries), in several of the divisions, but in particular the coating and graphic arts division. I count many of my fellow TAPPI members as great lifelong friends. I am especially proud of being recognized as a TAPPI Fellow.
What changes have you seen in the paper industry in the last 10-20 years?
Now I will date myself, if I go back to the start more than 20 years ago, I remember the analog to digital transition. The increase in recycle content and how everyone jumped on the green bandwagon. Value added, product differentiation, color theory, printing developments, water-based inks, and the North American paper industry distilling down to tissue, packaging grades in all their forms, and nonwovens.
Tell me about your family.
My niece is about to finish her second year in medical school and my nephew will graduate college majoring in Economics and International Relations. My dog is a Dandie Dinmont Terrier named Maude.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I am a published cookbook illustrator.
Where would you like to go on your dream vacation?
I would love to go to Madagascar because of its biodiversity which ranks third behind Brazil and South Africa. It is similar to Australia in that there are plants and animals there that exist nowhere else on earth.