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Domtar: High Quality Paper at Windsor


April 1, 2007
By Pulp & Paper Canada

The past year has seen significant changes at Domtar. Announced measures to return the company to profitability were realized through an action plan that included the implementation of cost-cutting in…

The past year has seen significant changes at Domtar. Announced measures to return the company to profitability were realized through an action plan that included the implementation of cost-cutting initiatives. This meant that March 2007 saw the permanent closure of the Cornwall mill, as well as the closure of PM10 and PM11 at the Ottawa-Hull complex. A month earlier, sawmills at Grand Remous and Malartic closed due to the softwood fibre reduction and high fibre costs in Quebec. Domtar also announced its intention to sell its Vancouver coated paper mill. At the time, President and CEO Raymond Royer said, “Mill closures are very difficult decisions to make, since they impact our employees, their families and the communities where we operate.” While the decisions may have been difficult, strategies at Domtar are working; one simply has to look at profitability in financial results starting in the third quarter of 2006.

In February of this year, Domtar announced earnings from continuing operations of $91 million in the fourth quarter of 2006 compared to a loss of $271 million in the fourth quarter of 2005. Royer said, “The past year has been one of decisive actions for Domtar. With the support of our employees, we successfully executed the restructuring plan announced in November 2005.”

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The early months of 2006 also bought positive news with the Forest Stewardship Council certification in the Val d’Or region of Quebec. This is particularly significant since the area is the largest public forestland certified to FSC standards in the province. In August, Domtar was again in the headlines with its intent to create the largest fine paper company on the continent by combining with Weyerhaeuser’s fine paper business. This new Domtar would operate six modern world-class uncoated freesheet mills, providing two thirds of its more than five million tons of capacity. Year-end also brought the news that Domtar had closed the sale of its 50% interest in Norampac, to Cascades.

The new year started with the launching of a new anti-microbial office paper targeting the healthcare, laboratory and hospitality sectors. The product is treated with a silver component that kills the growth and spread of bacteria, odours, fungus, mold and mildew.

In a short period of time, Domtar re-defined itself and set the stage for financial success in 2007.

The mill

The journey of growth that Domtar has gone through started in Britain in 1848, when Henry Potter Burt founded Burt, Boulton Holdings, a firm that specialized in treating timber against the effects of moisture and rot. Early trade to expanding markets in North America led the company to acquire a sawmill in the Eastern Townships, a significant event since the location was near Windsor, QC, now home to the Windsor fine paper complex. With a present-day population of over 5,000, the town’s history is intertwined with papermaking. The first mill was established in 1859, employing 150 locals and producing three tons of paper. Today’s mill employs approximately 850 and produces 1,750 tons daily. The present-day mill was built between the years 1985 and 1987, with the first machine going into production in 1987. The second machine was added in 1989. The uncoated freesheet papers that are produced include photocopy paper, magnetic ink character recognition, forms bond and computer paper, envelope paper, offset printing paper and bleached wet-lap pulp.

Safety: a priority

One of the first things that Martin Lorrion, general mill manager, wants to talk about with regard to the mill is the issue of safety and how it is treated as a number one priority. It was one of his challenges when he moved to Windsor from the Ottawa/Hull mill in 2004. “In the last three years we have improved significantly, and we can now be proud of the fact that we have the highest improvement rate within the group of Domtar mills,” said Lorrion. Statistically the Windsor operation has gone from a 4.1 to a 1.9 rating in the past year, and came in second in the Pulp & Paper Canada’s Safest Mill in Canada contest. “The progress that we have made is due to a program of awareness and acceptance on every level of our operation. We document each situation, we analyze every occurrence, and we follow through to ensure that information about safety matters reaches every level of employee,” added Lorrion.

“Behaviours are not the easiest to change, especially in such a large mill, but when all of us collectively realized and accepted the priority that was being placed on safety, we changed,” said Ren Goguen, director of Technical Services. “To succeed as we have done, makes us not only proud, but motivates us to continue to improve.”

Forestland

At the end of 2005, Domtar Windsor obtained FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Certification for 162,500 acres of privately held forestlands in the Beauce and Estrie regions. In concrete terms, and following chain-of-custody mill traceability, FSC certification for products manufactured at Windsor provides their customers with a credible guarantee that forestry operations are conducted responsibly and with respect for the environment, local populations and workers.

Product and people

There is also a feeling that echoes through the walls of this mill that the product being produced is the best on the market. “We believe we produce the best product of our line,” said Lorrion, “and everybody works together to maintain this high standard.” Lorrion believes that Windsor has the three main components for success: the best technology, a high quality of manpower and a constant wood supply recipe for pulp production. State-of-the-art controls to reduce variability and modern quality control devices to track any deviance are the norm. As a matter of fact, modernization projects in the last five years have had the aim of creating uniformity of both the process and the manufacturing of the product. In 2001, PM7 was retrofitted to a Bel Baie VI concept with a new dilution headbox and ENP press. Last year a new Webco rewinder was installed. “We stress perfection,” said Lorrion, “and with the right people and the right tools we have arrived.” After 25 years of papermaking at Domtar, Lorrion knows what he is talking about.

Through the difficult times of the industry, Windsor employees remain committed to safeguarding the development of their mill for the future. They understand the market evolves quickly and they know how to adapt themselves in this context. “We are lucky. Our employees are highly dedicated. They work hard in order to ensure that their mill keeps its place under the sun,” stated Lorrion.

DOMTAR PAPER MILLS

Two mills are certified end-to-end environmental operations:

Espanola (ISO 14001) & Windsor (Responsible Care).

Ashdown, Arkansas * annual paper production capacity 925,000 tons

Espanola, Ontario * annual paper production capacity 80,000 tons

Hull, Quebec * annual paper production capacity 131,000 tons

Nekoosa, Wisconsin * annual paper production capacity 175,000 tons

Port Edwards, Wisconsin * annual paper production capacity 180,000 tons

Port Huron, Minnesota * annual paper production capacity 102,000 tons

Windsor, Quebec * annual paper production capacity 600,000 tons

Woodland, Maine * annual paper production capacity 125,000 tons

WINDSOR’S PRODUCTS (AT A GLANCE)

Windsor mill produces uncoated freesheet grades (white only) in basis weights ranging from 74 gsm to 118 gsm.

All products are available with FSC certification.

The types of products produced are:

Opaque and Offset for commercial printing, in rolls and sheet form.

Copy papers for business and personal copiers and printers, in rolls, 8.5×11, 8.5×14 and 11×17.

Laser Forms bond for business for
ms (certified MICR and OCR), in rolls.

Envelope paper in rolls and sheets.

WINDSOR MILL (AT A GLANCE)

Machines

2 paper machines & 1 wet-lap machine.

3 sheeters (1 folio & 2 cutsize sheeters).

Environment

Elemental chlorine-free

Responsible Care Program certification

Fondation Estrienne en environment award ’93 and ’96

Certifications

ISO 9001 certified

Co-generation plant

Your comments and suggestions are welcomed at zsoltp@pulpandpapercanada.com


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