Pulp and Paper Canada

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Faces, Facts and Figures: Profile of a Mill Operation


March 1, 2004
By Pulp & Paper Canada

On January 30, 2004, Nexfor Fraser Papers reported record fourth-quarter earnings pushed by the strong North American market for its main product, oriented strand board. The company’s earnings for the quarter were $71 million US, compared to a los…

On January 30, 2004, Nexfor Fraser Papers reported record fourth-quarter earnings pushed by the strong North American market for its main product, oriented strand board. The company’s earnings for the quarter were $71 million US, compared to a loss of $6 million US in the corresponding period in 2002. For the full year 2003, earnings rose to $126 million, a significant increase from the previous year’s $13 million.

“We met or exceeded virtually all of our financial targets during the year,” Dominic Gammiero, Nexfor’s president and CEO, told the press. “This was due principally to strategic investments we’ve made in panels and the buoyant market conditions we experienced during the year.”

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Nexfor Fraser Papers, with close to 3 700 employees is a leading manufacturer of specialized printing, publishing and converting papers.

It is one of North America’s largest producers of specialized paper products, operating nineteen paper machines at mills in the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick, and in the United States in Maine, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

A highly integrated paper company, Nexfor Fraser manages more than two million acres of forest, of which it owns approximately half. The company’s diversity extends to the operation of a tree nursery, sawmills, and virgin and de-ink pulping facilities. What is most noteworthy is its product line which includes light and ultra-lightweight publishing grades, text, cover and commercial printing papers, and a range of highly specialized converting grades. The goal of the company, as stated in its mission statement is, “to be a top quartile supplier of forest products, meeting the needs of customers”, and their diverse product line is certainly indicative of Nexfor Fraser’s success.

It is into this dynamic environment that Marie Dumontier, Director of Environment, Health and Safety comes to work every day. Based in Hull, QC, she oversees safety issues in plant operations that produce such diverse products such as oriented strand board, pulp and paper, medium density fibreboard, particleboard, plywood and lumber. She is known widely in the industry for her proactive style when it comes to safety and to women working in the field. Her own personal association with the industry has its roots in the mid-eighties when the challenge of environmental solutions lured her to the field.

“Her style and expertise is widely respected on various levels within our organization,” said Rich Chapel, Director of Communications, referring to her as “a scientist who happened on our industry.”

Outspoken on the issue of safety, Dumontier speaks of maintaining the company’s safety policy, “With pulp and paper mills, and sawmills all across North America, our goal is to have zero accidents. To achieve this, we have a way to go, but each year we get better and better.”

Her role is to co-ordinate the network which she set up to facilitate communication between the various safety managers located at different outlets of the company. “The information that we share about incidents and safety in general from the varied locations, makes us stronger and better as a whole unit,” she said.

Dumontier also recognizes the unwavering support on the issue of safety that she gets from upper management in the company. “Full commitment and full compliance to safety issues is demanded on all levels, and it is this fact that will enable us to attain the goal of zero incidents,” she explained.

At EXFOR 2004 in Montreal, Marie Dumontier was presented with the F.G. Robinson Committee Service Award, for her continued devotion and involvement in PAPTAC committees. To Dumontier, the reward is meaningful, for as she said, “Today more people from the mills attend than ever before, and this gives us the opportunity to learn from each other.”

Ranee Riffon, Effluent Treatment and Environmental Supervisor at the Thurso mill, has known Dumontier for 12 years and applauds her strong will to accomplish. “She knows what she wants, but more importantly, she knows how to get it. We have worked together for many hours on audit reports, and I have come to respect her great organization and, of course, her big smile.”

Dumontier says of safety, that it means always being prepared, having a plan B, and exercising a type of “risk management.”

In speaking with Marie Dumontier, one gets the strong impression that these are not just words, but that she lives and breaths these standards. A born adventurer and world traveler, when she is not working, she is a cyclist, a hiker, and a cross-country skier. From the peaks of New Zealand, to the sub-Arctic she has seen it, and I suspect learned a little more about safety along the way. Experiences that she brings to her workplace everyday.


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