One of Paper Stock Dealers' most reliable employees retiring

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Paris Goodnight

Salisbury Post

David Tanner spent 26 years working for Paper Stock Dealers. Now, he’s turning a new page.

Tanner, a 45-year-old who is developmentally disabled, went through Rowan Vocational Workshop training before joining Paper Stock in 1980.

He learned different skills on the job, including how to work a conveyer belt line, operate a forklift and maneuver 18-wheelers.

“That’s what’s amazing about David,” said co-worker Maurice Alexander at a recent Fire Mountain restaurant gathering of friends, family and other employees. “Even those 53-footers that are almost impossible to dock, he’ll do it. I learned everything from him.”

Others said they’d even seen drivers look at the loading area and give up. Some would offer Tanner $5 to back their truck into place.

Whatever it was, Tanner would do it.

“I wish I had about 10 of him,” said Levon Jacobs, plant manager. “When I got here in 2004, I heard he could load a truck in 15 to 30 minutes. I didn’t believe it.”

But he soon saw it was true. And he saw that Tanner did all his duties safely without any complaining. “We’re going to miss you,” he told Tanner, with a choke of emotion in his voice.

Jacobs and Kenny King, a regional manager, got together and bought Tanner a model train engine and cars to add to his collection at home. Tanner’s mother, Doris Beaver, said he has a full shed at home for his train hobby.

“He loves it. He works eight hours and then plays,” she said. But he’s going to miss the job. “He grew up with them.”

Tanner was featured in the Post in a 1998 article, where his mother mentioned how he had changed with the job. “Since he’s been working at Paper Stock, he’s grown some muscles. He has transformed from a skinny boy to a physically fit young man,” she said then.

He’s still in that physically fit shape. But he still can’t read or write, so his mother helps with things like paperwork and filling out benefit forms.

Paper Stock Dealers Inc. is part of Sonoco, a company that handles a range of paper products. Jacobs, the plant manager, said they have about 10 or 11 employees at the 300 E. Henderson St. location that handles recycled paper and paperboard. A human resources official from the corporate office presented Tanner a Sonoco jacket.

Glenn McDonald of Rowan Vocational Workshop said Tanner’s experience could go a long way in helping others who get training there to break into the job market.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions. You’ve done a lot of good for a lot of people, not just yourself,” McDonald said. “It’s been good for you all too,” he told the Paper Stock officials.

McDonald later mentioned companies like General Electric, Hitachi Metals, W.A. Brown and Maxon that deal with the workshop and its clients. “It’s good testimony as to how dependable these workers are,” he added.

Tanner’s mother said he visited the Vocational Workshop again recently and said he may return there to help out in the warehouse. McDonald said Tanner would have a lot of options to choose from.

Contact Paris Goodnight at 704-797-4255 or pgoodnight@