Pulp and Paper Canada

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Louiseville’s Specialty Products


August 1, 2004
By Pulp & Paper Canada

THIS MONTHLY COLUMN continues to profile unique mill people from across Canada who have had a significant impact on both their workplace and on the industry as a whole. This month, we travel to the community of Louiseville in Quebec, where the…

THIS MONTHLY COLUMN continues to profile unique mill people from across Canada who have had a significant impact on both their workplace and on the industry as a whole. This month, we travel to the community of Louiseville in Quebec, where the manufacturing of fibreboard panels for the construction industry has been going on for over 25 years. Rina P. McGuire, the president of the newly-formed company talked to us candidly about her aspirations for the firm and about her style of management. There is a special spark of excitement in Louiseville these days, and the formation of this new company is the cause.

In this era of countless mergers and ongoing corporate acquisitions, we present the tale of one of Canada’s latest pulp and paper entities. With an investment of $8.4 million from Desjardins Capital, the new company, Louiseville Specialty Products Inc. (Matriaux Spcialiss Louiseville) came into existence on May 1, 2004. Under the leadership of Rina P. McGuire, the firm’s slogan says it all: “Our reputation is built on your satisfaction”.

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Located in Louiseville, QC, strategically midway between Quebec City and Montreal, the mill manufactures building material, specializing in insulating and acoustic panels, including both interior and exterior siding panels. With an annual production of 120 million square feet of panelling, the operation is the only mill in North America that produces fire-resistant panels. This ISO 9002 plant and its over 80 employees have plans for intensifying the marketing of their products and expanding their reach.

A member of the Specialty Products Group of Cascades since 1980, Matriaux Cascades and Convermat were officially sold in May when Rina McGuire assumed the role of president and general manager. Commenting on the sale, Alain Lemaire, president and CEO of Cascades said, “This sale was a difficult decision given the employees’ tremendous involvement and the products’ market notoriety. However, we received a good offer at a time where we were questioning these assets, which offer very few synergies with our other sectors of activity. I remain nevertheless confident for the future of these plants and their employees.” McGuire was quoted in the leading Quebec business daily Les Affaires as being, “proud to offer continuity to the employees and to retain local ownership.” With these sentiments, the scene was set for the new enterprise to unfold. With the construction industry at its summer peak, Luc McGuire, manager of Convermat, said, “We could not be more eager for a new start and the timing could not be any better.”

Being a part of Cascades for 24 years, the operation enjoyed the well-oiled structures of the ‘Cascades way’. Indeed in October of 2003, Cascades was named as one of the top 100 employers in Canada in a study prepared by Mediacorp Canada and published in Macleans magazine. Carole Bland, human resources manager at the mill for the past 23 years, calls the sale a point of growth for the operation. “We knew for many years that a sale would occur and, when it did, it was Rina’s positive and reassuring manner that made the difference for the employees.”

McGuire added, “We are a smaller, focused operation that maintains the same philosophy as before — commitment and respect for our employees”.

McGuire is no stranger to the pulp and paper industry, having served for 35 years in a variety of capacities at both Consolidated Bathhurst and Cascades. Starting from a position as purchasing agent, then accounting supervisor, she saw her career rise to sales manager and further. As she admitted, the variety of jobs “allowed me to have a broad understanding of the industry, and for that I am very grateful”. At Cascades, she oversaw recycling and de-inking for five years, and most recently held the role of vice president of public relations and corporate culture. Stphane Mailhot, director of corporate communications at Cascades, said, “When she was my former boss, I recall how she preferred when things were moving along at a steady pace. Her energy level to make this happen was incredible, and I can best describe her as an action person”. ‘Go go go, let’s do it!’ was the line that Mailhot associates with McGuire.

Maintaining a strong belief in employee relations, one of McGuire’s first goals as president of Louiseville Specialty Products Inc. is to meet all the employees on a one-on-one basis. “It is important to me to know what people like and dislike about their jobs.” This is a philosophy that goes back to Cascades days, and one that McGuire has adhered to for many years. “We are keeping the best of that philosophy and adapting it to our new independent structure”

McGuire traces her family roots back to the Gaspsie region of Quebec. One of six children, she recalls that as a child she always knew she wanted to work in an office environment. At age 56, she is president of her own company and says “Life is too short not to embark on new changes in life. I cannot seem to stay put.” When the Louiseville business opportunity presented itself, she jumped in with the same energy and confidence that she is known for in the industry. “I was familiar with the sector and liked the product,” she said. Beyond that, insiders tell me her strong motivational skills are greatly respected. Bland referred to her style as “positive and re-assuring, and that is important in a small city where everybody knows each other. When she (McGuire) moved to Louiseville from Montreal, we all sensed how committed she was to the company’s future success,” said Bland.

Luc McGuire added, “it has only been two months since the change, but we are as busy as ever. We are on the road to implementing new ways of working in the mill and new ways of servicing our clients.”

Rina McGuire sits at the helm, exuding confidence as the leader and motivating by what she calls her, “passion for not being able to sit still.” Business challenges have been an integral part of McGuire’s career, but as she freely admitted, “My family has always come first. When my children were young, I never embarked on anything new without consulting with my two sons first. Son Luc works alongside his mother as manager of Convermat. Rina said “I always respected his entrepreneurial style, and it is great to have him on my team.” Luc smiled as he added, “She is a great boss!”

Louiseville Specialty Products has the strong foundations of its history with Cascades and today that is complimented by the action plans of Rina McGuire. What better formula can a company ask for to ensure continued future success?


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