Georgia-Pacific, a multinational corporation that manufactures paper, pulp, packaging, tissue, building products, and construction-related chemicals, is the largest wholesale supplier of building products in North America; only one corporation, International Paper, ranks higher than Georgia-Pacific in the production of paper products. Georgia-Pacific operates more than 600 facilities in the United States, Canada, and eleven other countries, and the company and its subsidiaries employ more than 61,000 people in North America.
Owen R. Cheatham established the Georgia Hardwood Lumber Company in Augusta in 1927. This modest lumber mill enjoyed great success because of Cheatham's outstanding business and social skills. By 1938 the Georgia Hardwood Lumber Company operated five lumberyards in the South. Its first facility on the Pacific Coast was purchased in 1947 at Bellingham, Washington. In 1948 the company was renamed Georgia-Pacific Plywood and Lumber Company. The thriving corporation initially appeared on the New York Stock Exchange in 1949. Operations and product lines have expanded since the 1940s. Corporate headquarters returned to Georgia in 1982, after being based on the West Coast for almost thirty years.
A. D. "Pete" Correll was named chief executive officer of Georgia-Pacific in 1993, and in 2002 he was also named chairman of the board. Under his leadership, sales in 2003 exceeded $20 billion and net income was $254 million. In 2005 Georgia-Pacific was purchased for $21 billion by Koch Industries, a private company based in Wichita, Kansas. The acquisition made Koch, a textiles and chemicals manufacturer, the largest privately held company in the United States. Correll stepped down from his executive positions to become a member of the board. The following year he was named Georgia Trend magazine's Most Respected Business Leader for 2006, the same year in which he retired from the Georgia-Pacific board.
Product lines offered by Georgia-Pacific can be divided into many general categories. Building materials include various types of plywood, lumber, and wood paneling, as well as such gypsum-based products as plaster and wallboard. Georgia-Pacific also produces chemicals, including formaldehyde, wood adhesives, and industrial resins. A broad spectrum of paper is sold for both home and commercial use. Pulp, used for such varied items as diapers and containerboard, is produced and sold to manufacturers.
Consumer products made by the company include napkins, paper towels, bath tissue, facial tissue, and disposable food-service products. Georgia Pacific also sells portion-controlled dispensers for tissue, paper towels, and soap.
Georgia-Pacific has pledged to protect the environment not only through its current practices but also by the smart use of natural resources. For example, the amount of recycled material used in production more than tripled during the 1990s. The concept of sustainable growth for the forests of the future has become another focus of the Georgia-Pacific environmental pledge. Nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations maintain pressure on Georgia-Pacific to continue to make environmental concerns a priority.