The decision had grown out of one of Smith's dialogues in which a fellow executive noted that Kleenex, a sideline product, had become a brand synonymous with its category, like Coke or Band-Aid. In what a Kimberly-Clark director called the "gutsiest decision I've ever seen a CEO make," Smith jettisoned 100 years of corporate history, right down to the original mill in Kimberly, Wis. Analysts derided the loss of revenue. The stock took a hit. Forbes predicted disaster. But Smith's ruminations had equipped him with quiet steel.
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