Fall is All About the Layers

Want to get a jump on next spring? Plant a little cardboard this fall. Cardboard and paper are economical, sustainable and easy tools to use this fall while prepping for your springtime garden.

For neophyte gardeners, a simple layer of cardboard might be enough. According to garden writer Stacy Tornio, writing for the website BirdsandBlooms.com, this can be done by laying a cardboard template on the ground in autumn where you want your flower bed to be. Wet the cardboard thoroughly and layer with more soil, compost or mulch. Come spring, you will have a rich and ready bed.

For gardeners who have a little more patience, maybe it’s time to try some lasagna – as in the “lasagna method,” also known as layering. In lasagna gardens, organic material are layered on top of the land and no tilling is necessary.

It was a method “borne of frustration,” according to author and gardener Patricia Lanza. In an article for Mother Earth News, she writes, “I began to think about a garden built on top of the sod, requiring none of the traditional preparation: no lifting the sod, no digging or tilling, just neat layers of organic ingredients left to decompose over the winter …”

One of the most important layers is cardboard — and it can be laid out in whatever pattern you want.

“I laid cardboard on the paths,” Lanza says, “and covered the cardboard with bark chips. I then covered the garden spaces with thick layers of wet newspaper, overlapping the ends, and covered the paper with one to two inches of peat moss. Then I laid a three- to four-inch layer of dried grass clippings over the peat moss and added another one or two inches of peat moss. I continued to alternate layers of waste material and peat moss. Midway through, it struck me that the peat moss was akin to the cheese layer in a real lasagna.”

There are several sites you can check out to help in the construction of your lasagna garden, including herehere and here. And if you need extra cardboard, with the popularity of online shopping and monthly subscription boxes, you are sure to find a friend or two who can help out.


article via: howlifeunfolds.com 

Building the Office of the Future

Building the office of the future

What does the office of the future look like?

This is a question many enterprises are asking themselves as they attempt to reshape and reinvent their workplaces for a technology-oriented future. With most of today’s offices designed for a vanishing era, where workstations, cubicles and corner offices dominated, the move has real implications for employee satisfaction, productivity and company culture.

With this in mind, here are some megatrends that will define the offices of tomorrow.

A lot more like home

Numerous studies have shown that people are more engaged and productive if they can choose how they work. That means the office of the future is going to look a lot less like a traditional office and more like home, or at least like a hybrid of the two. Commercial architects will place more emphasis on natural light, ergonomics and functional furniture that you might expect to see in residential settings.

Rest, work, play

The office of the future is all about creating flexible, collaborative workspaces suitable for a range of functions – not just work. Say goodbye to generic cookie-cutter workstations and conventional meeting rooms, and make way for open spaces for work, rest and play. Office interiors need to be rethought, with areas designed with particular activities in mind. The goal is to create an atmosphere that promotes conversation, encourages collaboration and inspires innovation.

Tech savvy

Millennials, or #GenMobile, will dominate the office of the future, so workplaces need to meet their needs and expectations. They are fun loving, tech savvy and expect a connected, flexible (hot-desking) and collaborative working environment. They also want the ability to work from anywhere without restriction, so office technology should facilitate this. Video conferencing capabilities that enable communication across a global workforce are another must, as are high-performance mobile networks and an all-wireless workplace.

The branded workplace

How an office looks and feels also has a direct impact on the way employees perform, which is why forward-thinking businesses need to focus on internal branding. Workplace branding shapes the design and aesthetics of the work environment, with the goal of fostering a positive workplace culture. This branding should reflect the organization’s cultural values, with a strong emphasis on employee needs.

The upside of this evolution in office design is that staff are more likely to perform at the top of their game, so organizations will ultimately benefit.


Thought-Provoking Facts on Paper, Forests and Recycling

1. Forest area in the U.S. increased by 5,800 NFL football fields per day between 2007 and 2012.[1]

2. The volume of wood (trees!) on U.S. timberland increased by the equivalent of 159 Empire State Buildings per year between 2007 and 2012.[2]

3. In 2015, the U.S. recovered enough paper (for recycling) to fill 125 Empire State Buildings.[3]

4. From 2005 to 2015, U.S. forests stored the equivalent in carbon to taking 137 million cars off the road each year.[4]





























[1] Forest area grew by 14 million acres between 2007 (752 million acres) and 2012 (766 million acres) (USDA Forest Service, 2014). A full football field including the end zones is 360 ft by 160 ft or 1.32 acres (http://www.sportsknowhow.com/football/field-dimensions/nfl-football-field-dimensions.html). Forest area grew by 10.6 million football fields (14 million acres of forest area/1.32 acres in a field) in five years = 2.1 million per year = 5,811 football field per day.

[2] Net volume growing stock on timberland in the U.S. grew from 942,949 to 972,397 million ft3 between 2007 and 2012 (USDA Forest Service, 2014) – an increase of 29,448 million ft3 = 5,890 million ft3 per year = 16 million ft3 per day. The volume of the Empire State Building is 37 million ft3 (http://www.esbnyc.com/sites/default/files/esb_fact_sheet_4_9_14_4.pdf )

[3] Recycling one ton of paper saves 3.3 cubic yards (89.1 cubic feet) of landfill space (http://www.isri.org/docs/default-source/commodities/fact-sheet—paper.pdf ). Empire State Building = 37 million ft3 (its space saves 415,264 tons of paper). Paper recovery data was obtained from www.paperrecycles.org .

[4] A conventional gas vehicle in the U.S. emits 2,720 lbs of carbon (10,000 lbs of CO2 eq. per year) (https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/420f08024.pdf ). There are 2204.62 lbs/metric tonne therefore an average car emits 1.23 metric tonne of carbon/y. Between 2005 and 2015, carbon stock in the forest rose from 87,271 to 88,961 million MT of carbon – an increase of 1,690 million MT over 10 years or 169 million MT/y (equivalent to 137 million cars) (https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-04/documents/us-ghg-inventory-2016-main-text.pdf – Table 6-12)

Article via: http://www.twosidesna.org

Meet the Team – Kara Crook

Meet Kara! Our newest, wonderful sales representative based out of our location down south: Mobile. This lady has been with us for one year and one week, and is constantly driving all over the coast and the panhandle of Florida searching for opportunities and solutions to help her customers’ businesses run efficiently.

I was able to catch up with our youngster and pick her brain about what in the world she did before working for Strickland and what it means to bring innovative, fresh thinking to a billion year old paper house.

EM: So Kara, I heard you have a family. Would you bring them with you if you were stranded on a middle-of-nowhere island?

Kara: No. Although my family is very close and we love spending time at the beach, their competitive card games would be the end of me. I’d bring my dog Bear as a companion, a fire starter kit, an umbrella and a boat.

EM: Boats! Yes. You recently graduated from the University of South Alabama, way to go! How does it feel being an adult and knowing that your mom will never iron your clothes again?

Kara: No one irons anymore, that’s why the dryer was invented. I will miss eating her spaghetti often.

EM: I’ve heard that people around your age think they know everything. Is there anything you don’t know and would like to learn?

Kara: Learning a new language would be nice. I’d like to learn Italian so I could travel there and be able to communicate easily with the locals.

EM: I bet they’ll teach you to make spaghetti- if you ask nicely in Italian. I heard you singing in the car the other day and will skip the question about having a favorite karaoke song, as I’m not sure if they’d allow you on stage. Do you prefer the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

Kara: Stones

EM: Hm. I’ve enjoyed having a coworker who brings innovative, fresh ideas to this industry. Besides confusing the older people with Excel functions, what motivates you to work hard?

Kara: Watching my name climb the sales charts has been inspiring, but helping new customers set up programs that will truly benefit them keeps me in the game.

Thanks for keeping us young, Kara!

Disconnect to Reconnect and Productivity Suckers

It’s 5 o’clock and you want to staple your face to the wall when you notice your coworkers shimmy off to happy hour- without you. YOU can’t leave the office because YOU can’t get your work done. There’s been a productivity sucker hovering around your desk for the past 2 weeks and you’re having trouble resetting your mush-mind.




Calm down. The way I see it is there’s two reasons for you missing out on prime martini time- you’re doing something wrong, and you’re not doing something right. Wait, is that one thing? Whatever- you need to change your working habits, and at one point or another we all need a little work-ish overhaul.

I’ll admit to being a marching mush-minded employee every now and then, but it’s been my ability to break through the battle of the busted brain and recapture my productivity that’s made the difference in my 5 o’clock happy hour attendance and termination avoidance.

This is the best I got- I give you my list of “Be Alive! Get Off at 5! Rules”:

  1. DO NOT get caught at the water cooler. This includes the interoffice phone- I’m looking at you ladies! Yes, it’s easy and fun to gossip your way to 5 o-clock, but come Friday your boss isn’t going to be looking for a report of “OMG did you see what Linda wore to the meeting yesterday”.
  2. DO NOT fuss around with the Lord of Productivity Loss- the smart phone. Go ahead- THROW YOUR PHONE IN THE TRASH. Or place it in the bottom drawer, whichever is appropriate. We look to our phones for an outlet of unrelated work stimulus during our “off time”, and when we do this our brains don’t get the chance to get bored- which stifles creativity.
  3. PLEASE DO split your day into sprints- take beaks! A well-timed burst of business followed  by a well-earned rest can do wonders for your productivity.
  4. ALWAYS make To-Do Lists! Consider them your Bible of Productivity. Make one right now- grab that over-sized Post-it note and MAKE A TO-DO LIST. They’re great organizers and have more often than not reminded me of back-of-the-brain, albeit important, tasks my boss has asked me to do.
  5. PLEASE DO set aside 10 minutes per hour to check your email. There’s a productivity plague going around corporate America- Email Obsessive Disorder. It’s real, y’all. It’s the latest extension of an OCD tick- you waste SO MUCH TIME compulsively checking to see if cute-new-Johnny-coworker-down-the-hall accepted your appointment invite to ‘tini Tuesday next week. Make reservations the last 10 minutes of every hour to check your email so you don’t miss even more important reservations after 5 o’clock.



Emily, Millennial and Marketing Girl Wonder

Myths and Facts: When it Comes to Paper, Some People Can’t See the Forest for the Trees

Paper has been around for more than 2000 years, and for good reason. It’s a highly effective and versatile means of communication. Even in today’s digital age with the vast array of alternative media to choose from, paper’s unique aesthetic qualifies and practical appeal are unmatched.

Paper is highly sustainable, too. But as attention to the environment has increased in recent years, so have myths and misconceptions that the paper industry is responsible for large-scale deforestation and adverse impacts on the environment. As always, there are two sides to every debate, and paper has a great environmental story to tell.

Two Sides presents the facts about paper production, use and recycling to dispel the myths, promote well-informed, confident media buying decisions and encourage greater responsibility throughout the life of paper products.

To get the facts about the sustainability of Print and Paper click below:

MYTH: Making paper consumers a lot of energy.

FACT: Paper production supports sustainable forest management.

MYTH: Making paper is bad for the environment.

FACT: Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products.

MYTH: Electronic information is more environmentally friendly than print and paper.

FACT: Not necessarily. E-media also has environmental impacts.


For this article and other paper-truths visit www.twosidesna.org

Meet the Team- Jimmy Thomas

Hold on to your work trousers- this is the first installment of the “Meet the Team” blog series! At Strickland we think knowing who you do business with is not only important, but half the fun as well. So let’s make business worth doing! Read on for details and endearing facts about our man-with-the-facilities-cleaning-plan, Jimmy Thomas. 

Jimmy Thomas- Facilities Specialist

Jimmy Thomas- Facilities Specialist

EM: Jimmy, you’ve been in this industry longer than I’ve been alive- wow. Tell me about your life as the South’s top Facilities expert.

JT: I’ve been in the JanSan industry for almost 40 years. Prior coming to Strickland I worked for Johnson Wax (Diversey), then went to work for one of my Distributors. In my Strickland role my responsibility is to grow and develop our Facilities program by working directly with the sales force. My talents lie in tailoring specific cleaning plans and solutions to meet any customer’s need. 


EM: I hear you’re a family man. 

JT: I have been married for 39 years to Patti, we have 3 daughters, a son, and 3 grandchildren. When I’m not tinkering with cleaning solutions I like to work in the yard, exercise as I can, attend Auburn football games with my son and generally spend time with my family.


EM: Do you prefer the Beatles or the Rolling Stones?

JT: Beatles


EM: Correct answer- we can continue: I understand that you know everything there is to know about Facilities Solutions. As that is just one facet of life, please tell me something you would like to learn in another area.

JT: I would love to learn a musical instrument. It seems like is would be relaxing to just sit and play music.


EM: Well, it’s got to be better than watching Auburn football. What motivates you to work hard?

JT: My family- I have two children leaving for college in a year and a half. I do not hold out hope that Bernie will relieve me of college expenses. Also, helping my coworkers excel.


EM: Bernie, ok. What’s the worst gift you’ve ever recieved?

JT: A polka-dotted shirt- royal blue with yellow dots. In the seventies I thought it was hot.


EM: I suspect it was not. What was your first job? 

JT: I worked for  a contractor while in school. We did a lot of the work on Birmingham Green. Great job; was able to get a tan, get in shape and at best made $2.25 an hour with overtime. My first full-time job was with Alabama Paper and Metal Ware. Their warehouse was about a mile away from our current Strickland location. Ironically the owner of Alabama Paper and Mr. Elliott  were friends. Not only did we sell janitorial products we were a wholesale office supply distributor. I sold my first pen before most of our Strickland Team was born. 


There you have it, the first Meet the Team interview! Want to know Jimmy’s favorite cleaning solution or go-to Karaoke song? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll investigate further!

Till next time,

Emily Murphy, Marketing Girl Wonder

Strickland & BT Tynes: an Overview & an Interview

Executive Interview with Bayard “B.T.” Tynes Jr. 


Face-to-face relationships create trust and continue to drive the paper industry. They always have, and they will for the foreseeable future. “Like most merchants, we make our money by who we know, what we know and then we put our relationships and expertise together,” says Bayard “B.T.” Tynes, Jr., president of Strickland Companies in Birmingham, Ala.


After a sales career in the coal mining industry, Tynes joined the company in 1990 as a paper salesperson and learned the business from the ground up, eventually taking over the 88-year-old company from his father-in-law, George Elliott. Today, Strickland boasts six divisions, 35 salespeople and more than 100 employees.


To reach that point, the company underwent significant changes. Strickland started in 1928 supplying newsprint to newspapers and Hammermill paper to printers throughout the southeast. Today, its product categories are: printing paper, packaging and machinery, office products, furniture, JanSan and there are more to come. They serve a variety of clients from B2B to government to education.


The move toward diversification went hand-in-hand with personal relationships. “We started our diversification with packaging in the ’60s because our printers asked us to help them address the rising need for cut-size papers. They were hand-wrapping reams of cut-sheets, and we found the machinery and films to needed to provide a solution using flexible plastic packaging.


As the paper industry has changed, Strickland moved into the office supply and furniture space. “Furniture is a natural offshoot of office supplies,” says Tynes. “Then, if you get into office supplies, you’re almost certainly going to get into the JanSan business, because like office supplies, the universe of customers is endless, and we already have strong relationships with most of the mills who make towel and tissue.”


Tynes calls it the Strickland “front-door to back-dock” philosophy. “If a customer is using it, we want to sell it to them,” he says.


A Family Affair


As President of Strickland, Tynes’ main role is to support the company’s division managers. “They bring problems and opportunities to me by the minute,” he says. “My job, at this level is to rely on my experience, keep everybody focused and make good, quick, creative decisions that keep the customer’s best interests in mind.”


Tynes is also a family man who enjoys the challenges and opportunities that come with running a family business. “A family business is different. Every decision you make in a family business impacts the whole family” he says. “These decisions affect a large group of people that you’re close to. You have to remember that you will see everyone at Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners for many years to come.”


At the same time, Strickland can think long-term instead of quarter-to-quarter. Both his son Beau and daughter Forsyth have joined Strickland, which offers continuity and stability in leadership. “This tells me that our company has a very bright future,” he says.


Drawing on his own experience, Tynes made sure both his children worked outside the company after they graduated from college. “They had to go out and see the world and see how other businesses operated and develop skill sets before they came into our business,” he says. “Both have been very successful at Strickland.”


Like Tynes, they both started at Strickland as straight commissioned salespeople. “I don’t believe you can work with and manage commission salespeople unless you’ve done it yourself,” says Tynes. “They had to take a chance. After more than just a few years of sales experience, we brought them into management on a step-by-step basis, so they’re growing in the business and can focus on their new responsibilities.”


Challenges and Opportunities


One of the biggest challenges to the industry is effectively addressing our many audiences’ environmental and sustainability concerns. “As an industry, we are beginning to successfully fight the misconception that paper is bad for the environment,” says Tynes. He cites industry efforts to plant and replant trees through sustainable harvest programs, along with clean water and air initiatives.  “Recycling paper is what we in America now do as a part of our everyday life, and this is very good for not filling up the landfills and reusing a valuable commodity,” he says.


Government regulations also strain the industry’s ability to grow. “I think government regulation and interference is a big issue, one that adds an element of instability,” he says. “We’re all waiting for the next shoe to drop. Regulators sometimes work in a bubble and write rules that can be harmful to the industry before hearing from our professionals on the best way to move forward for all concerned.”


In the marketing world, he predicts that electronic substitution for paper has reached a saturation point. “People realize you need a direct mail component to complement digital marketing. There’s a remarkable difference in how a person comprehends and processes information when they read something on paper rather than on a screen,” he says.


On the other hand, the threat of online ordering to undermine personal relationships never materialized. Although most people research product features and price online, the industry’s customer service culture has just grown more important. “The paper industry was very worried about the online process taking something away from the people element of our business,” says Tynes. “I honestly don’t think that’s come to pass.”


While Strickland’s online ordering systems makes it easier for customers to check their account status, pricing and inventory, it hasn’t replaced personal relationships. “Our customers work in a fast, competitive high pressure business. They still want to know who’s taking the order and making sure they are being well taken care of,” says Tynes.


At the same time, when Strickland’s customers order online, their transactions tend to be more accurate, and they often order more than they would over the phone. “It’s easier, but it hasn’t replaced the need for person-to-person trust and communication,” says Tynes.


The Future Is Bright


Despite upheaval in the paper industry, Tynes maintains that the future is bright. Merchants like Strickland aren’t going away, he says. They’re simply finding their natural equilibrium and working to improve their mix. As that transition continues, he believes that the National Paper Trade Association will play a more important role. “I think the NPTA is a good watchman for the industry.  The NPTA, in my opinion, has become more important, not less,” he says. “My membership confirms to me that that the trust that we build with person-to-person contact creates long term, deeply important relationships that are still critical. They are the “currency” of business. You can’t do our business without them.”

Stress Management Made Simple

Stress Management

Deadlines, heavy workloads and tough decision-making. To you, it’s all part of the job, and with it comes the stress. Stress isn’t all bad—in fact, a little stress can be good for you. It can help you work hard, react quickly and keep you motivated.

But when stress occurs too often or lasts too long, it can leave you with headaches, backaches, stomachaches and more. And over time, it can affect your outlook, attitude and your long-term health. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (www.cdc.gov/niosh/), stress-related disorders are fast becoming the most prevalent reason for worker disability. Job stress and related problems cost American companies an estimated $200 billion or more annually due to issues such as absenteeism, turnovers and accidents.

So what can you do to keep your stress level in check? Here’s a list of tips that can help you manage and reduce stress on the job. Try one, a few, or try them all, and eventually you’ll be able to develop your own plan of action to combat stress.

Manage Your Time More Effectively

Stress is often caused by feeling overloaded and fearing that you won’t get everything done. Relax, you’re only human. Set your priorities, and concentrate on the important tasks first. So some of your less important tasks may not get done in time. So what? Over time, you’ll be able to plan a schedule that’s more realistic, making sure you have plenty of time to finish what you need to do.

Set Daily, Weekly and/or Monthly Goals

Ever feel like you’re a hamster on a wheel, running fast but getting nowhere? Setting realistic goals will help you feel focused and in control. Goals provide a yardstick to measure your progress. For your larger goals, set milestones along the way so you can make sure you’re still on course and you can give yourself an occasional pat on the back.

Recognize Your Limitations

Sometimes it’s hard to say “no” to our co-workers and superiors. But giving a realistic expectation is often better for the company than committing yourself to a task that you either can’t live up to, or will break your back trying to accomplish. Learn how to say “no” when you feel you’re taking on too much.

Learn to Share the Load

Asking for assistance doesn’t mean you’re lazy or incompetent. In fact, it shows that you’re a concerned member of the team who wants to get the work done in the best possible way, and gives everyone a chance to work together as a team.

Avoid the Conflicts, Beware the Drama

Arguments and office politics are sure-fire stress inducers. Are they worth it? Hardly ever. Instead, look for win-win situations where everyone can feel good about the outcome. And a positive environment can make you feel better in the short and long run.

Take a Break

Sometimes the best way to approach a job is to walk away from it. If you’re feeling stressed in the middle of a job, take a quick break. Switch to another task, take a walk or do some stretches. When you come back to the job, you’ll feel refreshed and refocused.

Relax and Breathe Deeply

The simplest things can make a big difference. For example, breathing through your nose can really bring down your stress level. So go ahead, take a deep breath and unwind.

Depend on a Friend

Friends can help us relax, laugh and see things differently. When you feel the stress mounting up, talk to a friend about the things that are on your mind. They might be able to help you look at things in a new way.

Try a Different Point of View

When you get frustrated because someone has a different point of view, take a moment and step back. Try to see things from their perspective instead. Listen actively, open your mind, and see if there’s something new you might learn from the situation.

Accept What You Cannot Change

A certain degree of acceptance is a critical stress reducer for life in general. There are some things you simple can’t change. Learn to recognize them, accept them and move on.

Take Advantage of Available Resources

No matter where you work or who you work for, keep in mind that it’s in your company’s best interests to reduce on-the-job stress. Talk to your employer or supervisor—they may have stress-reducing plans to suggest for you, or you may be able to develop a plan together.

There are many levels and types of stress, but the important thing is to make sure it’s manageable. You may want to try different methods before you find one or more that works best for you. Above all, make sure you take care of yourself.


via Avery.com

Spread Holiday Joy with Personalized Business Gifts

If you’re like most busy business owners or administrators, the holidays can sneak up on you, and getting cards and gifts out to customers and vendors is never an easy task. No problem — we have lots of simple ways you can spread some holiday joy this year and show your appreciation to vendors and clients.

Light Up Their Holidays

You don’t have to buy expensive gifts to thank your customers and vendors during the holidays. With Avery Design & Print Online you can make even a small gift meaningful. Just add a customized label to a candle, jar of candy or a bottle of wine and you’ll have an affordable gift everyone can enjoy. And it’s easy to personalize each individual label with your clients’ or vendors’ names and add a personal message. Tip: Add your company name or logo to the gift as well to get some free advertising whenever your gift is shared.


Wrap It Up

Make holiday ornaments, sweet treats or trinkets more elegant by packaging them in stylish boxes or bags. Customize a festive label using our free designs and templates in our Holiday Gallery, then personalize and print on your choice of Avery Labels to give your gift that extra holiday feel.

How about a bottle of personalized wine or six-pack of specialty soda for that special vendor, or some chilled bottles of water for the delivery man? Just print your personal holiday message on our water-resistant Avery Arched Labels for the wine and soda, or use Avery Wraparound Labels for water bottles. It’s a simple touch that means so much.


Finishing Touches

You’ve created the perfect gift, now finish it off with a complementary card. You can easily add a matching design theme to Avery Address and Shipping Labels to keep all your gifts personalized and coordinated. It’s simple to create your own cards too. Just print your special holiday message on an Avery Note Card, sign, seal and deliver. Not sending a gift but want to add a touch of elegance to the card? Try printable Avery Gold and Silver Mailing Seals.

We hope we’ve given you some ideas to get you started on your holiday gift list. With Avery products and Avery Design & Print Online, your gifts are not only festive, they’ll have a unique personal touch that’s sure to be appreciated.


Via Avery.com