Do you have a moment or an article that you are especially proud of?
Goldsberry: I’m actually proud of them all! Especially my feature articles over the years and my blogs that I write today. I guess some of my favorites would include my interview with Jon Huntsman Sr. at his office in Salt Lake City back in 1993. For two hours we talked and discussed the industry. We talked about McDonald’s tossing the EPS clamshell in favor of paper (which is whitened with chlorine bleach!). At the end of the interview, he gave me two tickets to the front row, center court to see the Utah Jazz play the Charlotte Hornets. I had my 16-year-old son with me so we had a mini-vacation on that trip.
It was a great article about a great man! My big question: How did you become a billionaire? “Well, Clare,” he said as he pondered that question, “how does the son of school teacher in Blackfoot, Idaho, get to be a billionaire?” He ultimately believed that it was a combination of being innovative (EPS egg carton invention that also resulted in the McDonald’s EPS clamshell container), perseverance, being willing to take risks, and when you fail, start again. A dash of luck is also a component, he agreed.
I also loved the large profile article I did for Plastics News on the three men who innovated plastics in medical devices beginning in 1957: James LeVoy Sorenson, Victor Cartwright and Dale H. Ballard, all of who founded their own medical device companies in the Salt Lake City area and are credited with creating applications for plastics in medical devices. They were partners and collaborators, and the most amazing men I’ve ever interviewed. I spent three days in Salt Lake, and even drove to Provo to interview Cartwright as he was retired there. I think that was about 1993 or so.
My business articles were important to me as well and I’m proud of them. One article I did for Plastics News involved “When to Shut Off the Presses”—encouraging molders NOT to keep running parts for a customer who wasn’t paying for the parts they already received! This was a big problem for many molders – their excuse was “my customer might move the molds if I shut off the press.” Okay, well that’s good, let them move the molds, let them put your competitor out of business! What good is it to waste time and energy and labor making parts for someone who doesn’t pay?
The moldmakers in the state of Michigan got the Mold Lien Law passed to put the kibosh on these big automotive OEMs who wouldn’t pay for parts. The big OEMs were livid over that one, because it no longer gave them the upper hand – I wrote a lot about that for IMM and the plight of many smaller molders who’d been put out of business by the likes of GM (the worst one of the bunch).
Who’s your role model?
Goldsberry: I can’t say that I have one true role model—I just sort of flew by the seat of my pants doing what worked. I had a lot of encouragement along the way including an English professor at Weber State University in Ogden, UT, where I took my first college class at age 31, English 101. I was a bit nervous, and thought that all these younger people would be so much smarter than I was.
But I figured English was a piece of cake as I’d been writing my whole life and had filled notebooks full of opinions and essays. I was always trying to hone my writing with the idea that someday I’d start selling my work. The first assignment from the professor was to write an impromptu essay of around 500 words on anything of our choice. He wanted to see where we were as far as our writing ability was concerned. He warned us that he never “gives an A on a first essay” because nobody is that good, so even though I thought I was a pretty good writer I had no expectations.
One of my mantras: Expect nothing, you’ll never be disappointed.
I chose to write about an experience of flying into tornado-producing weather over Nebraska on our way to Utah in a single-engine airplane with my then-husband, Dee who was an excellent pilot. We had to circle down through nearly 6,000 ft of solid cloud cover amid tornado warnings coming across our radio. I was the lookout, and was to yell when I saw the ground. We broke out the clouds at 500 feet above ground level (AGL), which was close, to say the least! It was hairy, but we skittered into Omaha’s airport!
The following week as I sat in the class, the professor began class by telling us that while he’d said he never gives an “A” on a first essay, there was one that was so outstanding that he had to give it an “A.” Wishing fervently that it was my essay, he then said, “I’m going to read this essay to you so that you can hear what good writing sounds like.” He then began to read my essay! I was so excited, and yet so embarrassed, that the professor thought so much of my writing.
Afterward he asked me to stay and talk with him. “You’re a good writer, Clare,” he told me. “You should sell this stuff!” That was all it took and I began writing humor pieces and essays and sending them to the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News and they paid me for them, wow, what a great start to my freelancing career! So I guess you could say that Professor Pederson was my hero!
Do you have a favorite business travel experience?
Goldsberry: I’ve had so many wonderful business travel experiences. I loved going into a town a couple of days early when I had a marketing/sales strategy program to develop for a molder or mold maker, and tour around to see things I’d not seen before. One of those places was a molder near Cape Canaveral, FL, just across the Indian River from the rocket launch site. I spent a whole day hiking through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and visiting the Canaveral Seashore, where I put my toes into the warm Atlantic Ocean (very different from the icy cold Pacific) for the first time; the NASA space museum, and even went to Coco Beach—it was April and there were still lots of spring breakers having wet T-shirt contests, etc.—and I ate some really good Cuban food!
I spent the next 3 days helping a molder with huge business problems and even bigger family problems! That one was a serious challenge, but he took the advice I gave him about the family situation and it all worked out. Sometimes these guys just needed some outside observer to evaluate the situation.
What would you like your legacy to be with readers?
Goldsberry: That my passion for the industry and for manufacturing and business helped them to do business better; gave them different ideas about how to do things; that I’ve given all readers from business owners or just generally people involved in the plastics industry some food for thought about science, about the Law of Unintended Consequences, and to help them stand up for plastics so that it remains a vital and viable industry.
Goldsberry: It’s been a good run; a good life. I didn’t turn into an Ernest Hemingway or F. Scott or Zelda Fitzgerald or Anais Nin, all favorites of mine who I once dreamed of emulating in writing, but I was cut out to be a non-fiction writer. Plastic has been fantastic to me! No regrets.