We are lucky to have Eastman as a corporate entity in our region. I had the opportunity to hear from Eastman’s CEO and Chairman of the Board, Jim Rogers, during a Regional Leadership Breakfast.

In March of 2009, Eastman appeared on the ropes with its stock trading at $17 a share. Recently, the stock was trading at more than $90 a share. This historic turnaround is based on Rogers downsizing of the company’s employee base, selling off units that were not performing or not within Eastman’s new-found core business.

Today, Eastman is focused on what it does well and is bringing innovation to America. There is a new technology to infuse plastic into wood for outdoor furniture and decks. There is a new focus on microfiber for filtration and there is a new focus on sustainable coatings. Eastman recently began hiring personnel and constructing new facilities. The company handed out bonus checks to its employees approximating $10,000 per employee.

Eastman, long known as a film coating and cigarette filter company has reinvented itself and it is winning. It is the kind of reinvention we’ve been hoping for among American manufacturers. Hats off to Jim Rogers and to Eastman. You’ve got it goin on.