WestRock’s Matt Hall Shares Excitement for the Future of Advocacy
Matt Hall is dedicated and excited to continue his career down the path of advocacy.
Hall, who has served as an electrician for WestRock in Covington, VA for 29 years, is the newly elected chairperson for the Pulp and Paperworkers’ Resource Council (PPRC).
Given his line of work, he must be no less than a hard-worker and self-starter. Hall spends his time actively choosing to learn more and better understand his work, while taking time to share his knowledge with coworkers.
Hall’s professional journey began when he worked for his grandfather’s moving truck company.
“I didn't see myself being a truck driver or anything like that. I didn't want to really be a part of the family business, so I looked elsewhere,” Hall said. This led him to go to college, where he graduated with 2 associate degrees in electrical technology and instrumentation technology.
He was then hired into the electrical/instrumental apprenticeship with Georgia Pacific at their location in Big Island, VA, where he eventually became a state journeyman. A journeyman is a type of electrician who specifically works on failing technical equipment.
“As a journeyman, I kind of liked getting into the troubleshooting aspect of the job more,” Hall said.
Today, Hall is a training coordinator for the electrical instrument department at WestRock.
Hall said a strong, “no quit” work ethic was impressed upon him from an early age, which explains pivots to areas of interest that occurred during his professional journey.
“Never quit. If we started anything growing up, you had to stick to it until the end,” Hall said.
He has carried that principle of diligence with him throughout his career. Since joining the industry, Hall learned a few essential things regarding the culture of the paper and packaging industry.
Hall believes that paper mill jobs based in rural communities can provide better healthcare benefits, “We have good health and disability benefits, so when you’re raising a family, it just makes sense.”
He said the industry is essential to modern society for many reasons, including how many people it employs, how it contributes to our present-day distribution systems and how the mills otherwise provide for the surrounding community.
“I joined the PPRC back in 2007. There’s been a little bit less demand for paper of certain types, but there’s a demand for packaging, now more than ever.”
Hall also highlighted the importance of safety in paper mills.
“As you get older, you get a little wiser and maybe not react so fast to problems. Maybe think about them a little bit more, work safer,” he said.
Hall stressed that staying on top of workplace safety has been his most crucial learning since joining the industry.
As Hall shared his hopes and excitement surrounding the future of the paper and packaging industry, he emphasized the importance of maintaining a healthy environment while keeping the industry relevant as the digital age continues to gain more traction.
Hall, however, is most looking forward to the future of advocacy as he assumes his new position in the PPRC. Given the influx of younger generations getting more involved in advocacy work, he believes their familiarity with technology will continue to further advance the industry.
“Technology has changed so much. I mean, we didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have cellphones when I was growing up, so younger people have more knowledge,” Hall explained, proposing that younger groups think differently and can find inventive solutions to problems, new and old.
Lastly, Hall applauded David Wise’s countless contributions to the industry and PPRC as he readies himself to take on what is now David’s former position as chairperson of the PPRC’s National Steering Committee.
AF&PA would like to both recognize and congratulate Matt Hall on his new position, and the lasting impact we know he will have on the future of advocacy.
Here’s to Hall, and the passing of the PPRC baton!