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VOL. 123 | NO. 42 | Friday, February 29, 2008

World Trade Club Position One of Carter's Many Roles

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Name: F. Gray Carter
Position: Vice president of purchasing and logistics
Company: Buckeye Technologies Inc.
Basics: Carter is the current president of the Memphis World Trade Club.
" One of the most important things you can be is a lifelong learner. When you stop learning you die."

- F. Gray Carter

F. Gray Carter is many things to many people. Besides his day job as vice president of purchasing and logistics for Buckeye Technologies Inc., Carter is first and foremost a husband and a father.

But he's also an elder in his church and president of his neighborhood association. He serves on the board for a juvenile diabetes organization and on one for his alma mater, North Carolina State University.

And he's been involved with numerous civic organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and Rotary Club.

So when Carter, 45, was asked to become a director - and then an officer - with the Memphis World Trade Club, he easily could have declined by citing an already hectic, overloaded schedule.

But Carter likes giving back in all aspects of his life, so the chance to serve his chosen career field in some capacity was too important to pass up.

"Here was an opportunity that fit with what I'm doing from a work, day-to-day standpoint to provide service," he said.

Ever-changing roles

Carter is serving this year as president of the Memphis World Trade Club (www.memphisworldtradeclub.com), established in 1947 by local business leaders to promote the region as an international hub for importing and exporting. His duties at Buckeye, a Memphis-based global manufacturer of cellulose-based specialty products, fit the club's purpose well.

Carter, who has worked for Buckeye since 1984 when it was still a wholly owned subsidiary of Procter & Gamble Co., manages the company's purchasing, supply chain and logistics operations. It's a position that brings a wide range of challenges.

"I could find myself negotiating travel rates with Northwest (Airlines), or I could find myself talking to Dow Chemical about a $20 million chemical we purchased," he said. "Having those conversations the same day and having the technical dialogue or the marketing dialogue, to me, is really pretty interesting."

Carter has worn many hats in his 24 years at Buckeye, from plant shift coordinator to sales manager to corporate executive. Through each role and each locale, Carter has done his best to take something and carry it to the next stage of his career.

"To me, one of the most important things you can be is a lifelong learner," he said. "When you stop learning you die. A lot of people like to fill up and say, 'Here I am; I'm this entity.' I can't work that way. Opportunities to learn more and do different things were always interesting."

Footsteps to build on

Carter's ascendancy to World Trade Club president was interesting - and almost accidental. He first got involved with the club through a former colleague at Buckeye, and the more he attended various programs and functions, the more involved he became with the club, eventually agreeing to be a director on its board.

But that decision quickly evolved into a new role as the club's second vice president. And when the first vice president resigned last year, Carter took over that office. Now he's president, following in the footsteps of 2007 president Carey Treadwell of Mallory Alexander International Logistics.

It was a fitting succession, as Treadwell had been instrumental in engaging Carter in the World Trade Club's work when Carter first became an active member.

"Carey really pushed on me hard - rightfully so - to become involved," Carter said, adding that his position in purchasing and logistics was a perfect fit with the club. "It made sense. How could I argue with that?"

Carter lauded Treadwell's immediate past presidency, which included the establishment of the Memphis Multi Modal Conference (www.memphismultimodalconference.com). This year's conference takes place March 19-20 at The Peabody Hotel.

"Carey did some great things with the Trade Club last year that we're trying to continue to build on," Carter said. "We want the Trade Club to continue to grow and be a vital part of this community."

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