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EXFOR and PaperWeek 2008


March 1, 2008
By Pulp & Paper Canada
By PatriceJ. Mangin

EXFOR celebrated its 50th anniversary at this February convention -at a time when the industry still searches for the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. But the celebration was muted. Perhaps …

EXFOR celebrated its 50th anniversary at this February convention -at a time when the industry still searches for the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. But the celebration was muted. Perhaps PAPTAC chairperson Marie Dumontier put it best: 2008 was a transition year.

It’s difficult to disagree with that assessment. There were fewer people around the exhibits but more than 1,100 people attended the technical sessions.

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In 2007, the audience was a mix of the interested general public and industry professionals, including mill employees. This year, the mix changed. The public stayed away; maybe the entrance fee was a barrier. One might question the decision to implement entrance fees. More than ever and in a time of intense, over-scrutiny by the media, the entire forest-based industry needs to polish-up and present its best face to the public . . . and trust the tunnel will end soon.

This year, however, offered the truly interested many opportunities to network with their peers and do so efficiently. While attendance from mills and suppliers was also on the low side, I truly cannot agree with what amounts to a ‘vacant seat’ policy. Especially now.

If you trust -as I do -that our forest-based industry is worth our best efforts, then let us join together all of our efforts and all our resources to truly support our industry.

PaperWeek and EXFOR were created by people with vision, people who sought to create opportunities to make our industry even better. To meet, to outline technical solutions and implement ways to further develp54pointofview. op our industry.

Yes, we all can find ‘excellent’ reasons for not attending, even more when times are tough. But this is short sighted. Times are tough but they’re also filled with opportunities.

Economies and situations change but people still need those opportunities. I congratulate the EXFOR and PAPTAC boards and staff; they help keep the light glowing in difficult times.

It was heart-warming to see the number of seminars presentations and posters done by students. These young people are the future of our industry. They are our ‘ambassadors’ and key to the relve or changeover that must occur.

At future EXFOR and PaperWeek events, Canadian associations such as PAPIER should work to improve the integration of student involvement and events to give them more opportunities to interact with industry people.

It was also exhilarating to witness the many presentations from industry, education and research. For instance, bio-refining is no longer a mere topic of fashion. The interest it generated is also a sure sign the industry is serious about finding solutions in ‘transformative’ technologies. These and other new technologies might not be the panacea for all the industry’s challenges but they surely belong in what Jean Hamel, FPInnovations-Paprican, calls the “solution tool box.”

It was the last such event to be held at the Palais des Congrs. It was the last year of a contract that PAPTAC was compelled to honour. When selecting a future event venue, we must not forget that unity of locale is a great idea. It favours a maximum of interactions among exhibitors, customer, attendees and our industry’s associations.

As individuals and companies, we must also support our association. If we don’t, who will? Or to paraphrase a famous American president: Do not ask what your association can do for you. Ask what you can do for your association.

More than ever before, now is the time to do so. The future starts today. Let us and PAPTAC be part of it.

Patrice J. Mangin has been a PAPTAC member since 1977 and is now serving as councillor. He is general manager of the new CIPP (Centre intgr en ptes et papiers) and newly elected president of PAPIER (Pulp and Paper Institutes for Education and Research).


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