I'm with Jay on this one. Nice answer, Jay.
I personally do not think that was right for him to tell that designer.. Kind of ironic that he'd be out of business if everyone recorded their own effects, but that's beside the point. I also think that one sentence from Ric might be being taken out of context a little here and I do see where he is coming from. He said "if you show me a REEL...". Reels are supposed to show your abilities to record, edit, design, make your own sounds and I personally think it's better in the long run to make a reel that is 100% your own recordings because that's what you're trying to show potential employers - but that's just my opinion.
But then I'd look at it this way: if everyone was digging the sound design and it was "really pretty good" as you say, I'd applaud his ability to take canned, blase and mundane "STORE-BOUGHT EFFECTS" and mesh it together with a few of his own effects he personally recorded and wind up with a believable, full sounding track. I would point out that it has an advantage to do it that way (80 to 20 ratio of effects) because it's economic, saves time, cost effective, etc. etc. etc.
One pertinent point I'd like to bring up is that Waves had a "Sound Design Challenge" this year wherein they provided you with hand-selected LIBRARY sound effects and gave them to you and told you that you could only use those sounds and NOT use your own recorded sounds and you had to sound design a full 45 seconds or so of a surreal racing crash. This competition had some very nice designs and I saw that it took extreme creativity and novel ideas of how to manipulate and use ONLY random "canned" library sound effects - and to say that all this competition shows someone is their ability to pull sounds from a library, I invite you to check out the top 10 designs of that competition. Genius stuff.
And recording all of your own effects newly is not a hallmark nor a "requirement" for being considered a "pro sound designer" by any means -- I think it was Randy Thom who said he uses mostly library sound effects - correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember that from the Castaway special edition commentary with him.
It ultimately comes down to what is right for the story and what sells and tells the story in the best way possible.
For example, in Alice in Wonderland, Michael Semanick speaks of placing in "B-rated Horror Film Thunder" sound effects in specific scenes--but wait, that cannot be! Not on a big-budget feature like Alice in Wonderland!! Yeah.. Sometimes it's needed to play the right chord in the audience's emotional memory bank.
But, my favorite analogy was said by one of my favorite Sound Designers of all time. His name is Erik Aadahl. He said in an interview once that a soundtrack is like a salad. The more ingredients you put into it that are fresh and home-grown from your own garden specifically for that salad, then it's going to taste better. The more store-bought, freeze-dried and GMOed ingredients you put into it, it's going to be that much worse. That's a philosophy I apply and strive toward on this proviso: If I have the time and budget to do so. When the time and budget call for using canned or store-bought sound effects, then sure - I'll do it with the mindset of making it still have the best possible quality I can get with minimal compromise on the integrity of the soundtrack which forwards the director's ultimate vision and goal for what he wants to induce in the audience.
One last rant: "If it sounds good, it's good. I don't care if you twist the knob backwards - if it sounds good, it's good". Who cares where the effects come from if they sound good and forward the story? I think we're in the top 2 percent of the audience who can recognize a "6030 Big Woosh" or an "Old Traffic" placed in a movie (can't say the same for the Wilhelm) - if you have to use sounds pulled from a commercial library and it fits and is tasteful, no-one should have the right to shoot you down for it.
p.s. the other day I pulled Mr. Wilhelm from my library and he actually did 3 or 4 other takes of screams before and after the famous one - I used one of the other takes yesterday. :)