‘The world’s always changing’

By Mike Lewis
Kristian Adams Johnson is vice president of Chambersburg Waste Paper. The Pennsylvania company gathers paper, metals and plastics and sends the material to mills to be recycled for reuse. Johnson gave birth to her second child shortly after this photo was taken.

Kristian Adams Johnson of Chambersburg Waste Paper talks about what she sees, from being an executive, a wife and mom.

By Mike Lewis

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Kristian Adams Johnson knows a thing or two about balancing her work and family responsibilities.

She’s vice president of the family-owned Chambersburg Waste Paper business in Chambersburg, Pa. She’s married to Rob Johnson. She’s mother of 3-year-old Cambrey. And in the time since this interview was conducted and photograph was taken, she’s given birth to a second daughter, Charleigh.

Johnson said it’s important to be resilient and flexible at home and at work.

“The world’s always changing,” she said.

Chambersburg Waste Paper gathers recyclables, such as cardboard, paper, metal and plastics, then ships them to mills to be processed for reuse. Recycled paper, for example, could wind up in anything from office paper to paper towels to toilet paper.

“We bring everything here. We sort it out to its proper grade, and then we ship it off to the mill. … We ship all over. We do domestic and we do export to the foreign markets,” mostly India and China, Johnson said.

She said her grandfather, Glen Adams, started the business 45 years ago, in 1974. She said her father, Kelly, now owns CWP, and 110 people work there.

The family has steered CWP through many changes, including a setback on Labor Day weekend in 2005.

“We had a massive fire and lost all of our main building here,” she said.

Two Greencastle, Pa., men were charged with arson in the case, according to news reports at the time, but a judge dismissed the charges in 2006, ruling that police failed to establish that the fire was intentionally set.

Meanwhile, the business forged on. It was up and running in a temporary facility within days of the blaze and soon started work on new quarters.

“We’ve completely rebuilt, and we’re still operating out of this facility,” Johnson said.

What are the biggest challenges and opportunities you face at Chambersburg Waste Paper?

Our biggest challenge at CWP is always trying to hire qualified employees. In addition to meeting our hiring needs, we are always faced with changing markets for recycled materials, whether it’s due to our economy or foreign markets, or environmental issues domestically and abroad. And with the changes in technology, the world is using less and less paper.

Being a family-owned business and offering a wide variety of services, there are always opportunities in improving efficiencies in how we operate and deliver our services to customers.

What do you wish more people understood about your business?

CWP offers a full range of services and equipment to meet all of our customers’ needs. We remove multiple grades of recycled materials and waste, as well as install equipment needed to handle those materials, from compactors, balers and open-top dumpsters.

With these capabilities, we are able to service a multitude of customers in almost every industry, from warehousing, distribution, commercial retailers, printers, general contractors, offices and medical facilities.

What have been some of the most significant changes in recent years, and how has the business adapted to them?

With all of the environmental changes and concerns over the years, everyone has become more concerned with recycling as much material and waste as possible. Those concerns have enabled great partnerships between CWP and our customers, helping them increase the materials they recycle as well as cutting their costs for landfill disposal.

What do you think the next decade will bring for your business and for the region?

As the world and recycling markets change, CWP will look at new opportunities to change with it. As we continue to grow, CWP will look at more automated ways of processing and handling materials and expanding employment opportunities to meet the demands of our customers, while keeping service our No. 1 priority.

How do you juggle your responsibilities at work and at home?

Being a mother with small children, time management and organization is a huge must for me, not only at work, but also at home. I also try to keep a good balance between work and home life. Having a great staff and employees is also key to being able to know that things are being properly executed.

Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

I enjoy spending time with my family. As my oldest continues to grow, she is getting more involved in various activities, so I enjoy watching her try new things. I also love to travel, whether it’s within the United States or abroad.