TAPPI Awards Highest Honors for 2021

Each year, TAPPI recognizes scientific achievement, outstanding leadership, professional excellence, and service to the industry and its communities. These awards do more than honor the achievements of those receiving them—they remind us of the qualities shared by TAPPI members.

Meet the winners of TAPPI’s 2021 Board level awards—the association’s highest honors.

Benjamin Frank, Ph.D., Director-Materials Research and Innovation, Packaging Corporation of America (PCA) has been named winner of the prestigious Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal Award.

Dr. Frank is recognized as one of the most prolific contributors in the North American containerboard/corrugated industry in the last 20 years. His work has enabled the development of more effective, efficient and sustainable containerboard and corrugated packaging, while his contributions have led to improved understanding of the physical/mechanical properties and contributions of fiber, containerboard and combined corrugated board.

A TAPPI member since 2001, Dr. Frank has updated, (re)developed, improved and/or validated more than 50 TAPPI Standards and Technical Information Papers (TIPs).

The former Chair of the Corrugated Division’s Fiberboard Shipping Container Testing Committee (Fiscotec) as well as the Quality and Standards Management Committee (Q&SMC), Dr. Frank is actively involved in dozens of Standard Specific Interest Groups (SSIGs) as well as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Standards Organization’s Technical Committee 6 (ISO TC 6).  

Frank Sutman, TAPPI Fellow, has been named winner of the preeminent Herman L. Joachim Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Sutman, formerly a senior group leader, Global Technology, with Solenis LLC, is retired.

In 1984, his manager and mentor at Great Northern Paper encouraged him to become active with TAPPI. Sutman joined the Pressing and Drying Committee at his first TAPPI Engineering Conference. He ascended through the leadership roles of the Water Removal Committee and then joined the Engineering Division Council in 1994.  

Sutman helped with the consolidation of TAPPI’s papermaking conferences that eventually became PaperCon. He completed his term as Engineering Division Chair in 2004 and received TAPPI’s Engineering Division Leadership and Service Award in 2005. Sutman spent several years on the PaperCon Steering Committee, chairing the committee in 2010.

Sutman and a few other TAPPI volunteers started the Runnability Fun Run in 2005. He chaired the Fun Run Committee from 2005 to 2010. Held annually for the last 15 years, the Fun Run has raised over $176,000 for TAPPI Division Scholarships, and this year will be held virtually in conjunction with TAPPICon Virtual, May 4 - 5.

Sutman served on TAPPI’s Board of Directors from 2013-2015. He retired in 2019 and remains active within TAPPI.

Travis Plains, Senior Regional Terminal Operations Manager for Lhoist North America in Birmingham, Ala., has been named winner of the distinguished Paul W. Magnabosco Outstanding Local Section Award.

A TAPPI member since 2015, Plains is an active participant in the Gulf Coast TAPPI Local Section, currently serving as Vice Chairman. He has made a lasting impact on the Section’s operations though his planning and participation in the Section’s meetings, improvements to communications and updates to the membership roster. 

Plains joined Lhoist in 2011 as a market analyst at their Fort Worth, Texas facility. In 2013, he transitioned into sales and now works in their Southeast region specializing in the paper and steel industries. Lhoist North America is part of the Lhoist Group, a major supplier of lime, limestone and clay products to various industries, including the pulp and paper sector.

Michael P. Doss, President and Chief Executive Officer of Graphic Packaging Holding Company, has been named TAPPI/PIMA Executive of the Year. Graphic Packaging, headquartered in Atlanta, is a leading provider of paper-based packaging solutions to food, beverage, foodservice, and other consumer products companies.

Doss began his career at Graphic Packaging in 1990 as a sales representative and went on to serve as the plant manager for the Gordonsville, Tenn. and Wausau, Wis. folding carton plants. He has held positions of increasing management responsibility ever since. Prior to January 2016, he was President and Chief Operating Officer of Graphic Packaging and also served in other leadership roles, including Executive Vice President, Commercial Operations; Senior Vice President, Consumer Packaging Division; Senior Vice President, Consumer Products Packaging; Vice President of Operations, Universal Packaging Division; and  Director of Web Systems for the Universal Packaging Division.

Doss serves on the Board of Directors for Sealed Air Corporation, the American Forest & Paper Association, the Sustainable Forest Initiative, the Paper Recycling Coalition, the Atlanta Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and the Paper & Packaging Board Check-off Program. He is also active in the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

With the exception of the Gunnar Nicholson Gold Medal honor, all awards will be presented at TAPPICon, October 3-6, 2021 in Atlanta, Ga., USA. Dr. Frank will receive his award at TAPPI/AICC SuperCorrExpo, August 8-12, 2021 in Orlando, Fla.

Nominations for are currently being accepted for the 2022 awards. All nominations are due August 1, 2021. Learn more.