The History of IFPTA

Written by John Kalish, IFPTA President Emeritus

The roots of the IFPTA date back to 1974 in Rotterdam to the PPI Symposium. It was at this Symposium that Per (Pele) Strömbeck, Bob Herbert and John Kalish met for drinks and, as they say, is all history.

Need to Share

Bob Herbert had been invited to PPI Symposium in Rotterdam to present a paper on the ship transport of forest products by his friend and former colleague, Pele Strömbeck.  It seems the world was covered over with people moving forest products. Each one working hard, but without much opportunity to obtain information outside their immediate circles. They needed expanded communication with others to better understand and manage their own product flow, which involved material handling, transport by truck and rail, warehousing, ship and barge transport, and the communication systems necessary to control all this. This symposium offered a perfect opportunity to learn how it was being done by the other fellows.

The Challenge

The PPI Symposium, as PPI Transport Symposium was then called, was repeated every other year with increasing attendance. But everyone involved saw a need for more and better method of communication for the industry.

The keynote speaker for the 1976 Symposium, Ted Przedpelski of the International Paper Company, had this to say: “Why is it that this group, which has so much in common and so much to offer one another, has such infrequent opportunities for discussion?” The answer, it seemed, was lack of a formal organization through which communication could take place and under whose auspices group actions could be developed.

Ted Przedpelski declared: “This, then, is the keynote message: organize a formal body, be it an association or a club, learn from one another and cooperate for mutual benefit, and uplift thereby the image of distribution executives within the pulp and paper industry.”

Over the next few years, John Kalish continued to work on the PPI Symposium events and travel to San Francisco for meetings where he would frequently visit with Bob Herbert in his San Francisco office. It did not take long for them to agree it was time to take up Ted Przedpelski’s challenge and form an association to give it permanence.

The two men agreed that the group should be called the International Forest Products Transport Association (IFPTA) – to say very clearly who the association represents. The two also agreed the new organization should be a non-profit corporation, established in California and Bob was to be named its first Secretary. The articles of incorporation and bylaws were developed and officially stamped and filed with California Secretary of State on October 4, 1982.

Voluntary Service

John Kalish and Bob Herbert knew the association would only get off the ground if it had a good board of directors, so each set off to sign up the very best people we knew. Our founding directors were: Albert Bernaert (Westerlund Corp., Antwerp), Jaakko Ebeling (Jaakko Pöyry, Helsinki), Bengt Eldered (SCA Shipping, Sundsvall), Klaus Gebert (Cellpap Terminal, Hamburg), Marius Hoogewerff (Boise Cascade, Portland), Clyde Jacobs (Seaboard Shipping, Vancouver), James Powell (Crown Forest Products,Vancouver), Tor Schumann Olsen (Star Shipping, Bergen), and Per Strömbeck (Consultant, Gothenburg).

These were the men that placed the Association on the right track. John Kalish was persuaded to be its first President. All of the IFPTA board of director posts were voluntary positions without compensation, and remain so to this day.

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