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Ball CEO: People a necessity for quality

By Elisabeth Nardi
The Daily Times-Call

BOULDER — Ball Corp. CEO David Hoover advised a class of University of Colorado business majors that to have a successful company, good people are a must.

“We have a group of people who knows what it takes to create and maintain a great business,” said Hoover, a guest-speaker to more than 400 CU business students during a Profiles in Business class on Tuesday.

“We want our people to behave as true owners of the

company,” said Hoover, a 35-year veteran of Ball Corp. “When you’re an owner, you work smarter.”

Founded in 1880 and known for its glass mason jars, the packaging company now produces metal food cans, beverage cans and plastic bottles. Based in Broomfield, along with its subsidiary Ball Aerospace and Technology Corp., the company is the largest beer can manufacturer and the second largest food can producer in the country.

In 2002, Ball reported a sales increase of 4.7 percent with more than $3.8 billion in revenue.

Hoover, who became CEO in 2001, partially attributes last year’s growth to the first year of a multi-year commercial supply agreement for aluminum cans with Coors Brewing Co. in Golden.

Ball is scheduled to announce first-quarter earnings for 2003 on April 24. Hoover told the CU crowd he expects to see continuing growth, in part due to the $923.8 million acquisition in December of Europe’s No. 2 beverage can maker. Schmalbach-Lubeca, headquartered in Germany, has been renamed Ball Packaging Europe.

Hoover also pins some of the company’s anticipated success on new products being launched in the next year. They include a spill-proof aluminum can, food cans with re-sealable, screw-off lids, and a plastic beer bottle that looks like glass.

Andy Thomas, a senior finance major, is also a teaching associate for the class, and he co-presented a talk on Ball before Hoover began his lecture.

“I thought his speech was really interesting because he talked about his personal experiences, his beliefs, his life and how he got where he is today,” Thomas said.

As part of the program Thomas had lunch and dinner with the CEO and said they got to, “relax and talk business.”

Kristen Hislop, director of the Profiles in Business program, said speakers such as Hoover give students a rare opportunity to interact with successful executives.

“It creates good business contacts, and students really wow these leaders,” she said.

During his talk, Hoover advised students not to limit themselves.

“Glass and gaskets didn’t sound all that exciting to me when I first started,” Hoover said. “It’s about the value of finding something to do and taking advantage of it.”

Elisabeth Nardi can be reached at 303-776-2244 Ext. 389, or by e-mail at enardi@times-call.com.