ENTERPRISE: The Gottwald Jinx

Brash, bold and bent on making it big, 73-year-old Floyd Dewey Gottwald of Richmond, Va., has been running up a remarkable record of swift starts and fast fades. In the early 1940s he turned a little paper company into the world's largest producer of blotting paper; then the blotter market rapidly dried up as the ballpoint pen caught on. Next, Gottwald converted his company into a maker of thick, waterproof paper bags for packaging fertilizer and chemicals, only to see that market crumble when plastic-lined bags came out. In 1962, with his two sons, Gottwald bought Ethyl Corp.,...

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