Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co. Ltd.
By Pulp & Paper Canada
By Pulp & Paper Canada
This month, we travel to the Annapolis Valley to the town of Hantsport where the Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co. Ltd. has established a strong tradition of caring for the environment, and equally carin…
This month, we travel to the Annapolis Valley to the town of Hantsport where the Minas Basin Pulp and Power Co. Ltd. has established a strong tradition of caring for the environment, and equally caring for its employees. Scott Travers, president and COO, personifies the many successes of this operation.
The town of Hantsport, NS, that is home to Minas Basin Pulp and Power, encompasses an area of approximately one square mile in Hants County. It was incorporated in 1895 and has a population of a little over 1200. Nestled in the Annapolis Valley, midway between Windsor and Wolfville, on Highway I, Hantsport boasts a rich history of ‘wooden ships and iron men.’ The community was first called Halfway River, because of its position midway between towns then called Pisiquid and Grand Pre. Senator Ezra Churchill, owner of the Churchill & Sons Shipyards, renamed the town in 1849 to reflect its evolution as the chief seaport of Hants County.
The growth of 19th century shipbuilding in the area was helped by the Bay of Fundy tides which gave the town one of the world’s few natural dry docks. Today, Fundy Gypsum Company, Canadian Keyes Fibre, and Minas Basin Pulp and Power, are the major companies that call Hantsport home. The former site of the Churchill & Sons Shipyards is where Minas Basin Pulp and Power is located today. While the days of shipbuilding are gone, the surrounding waterways remain busy. Daily, up to 24,000 tons of gypsum are loaded on ships in less than three hours before sailing out on the high tide.
The Bay of Fundy’s Minas Basin has the highest tides in the world. With an average range of twelve metres, it can reach as high as sixteen metres, when the various factors affecting the world’s tides are in phase. It is described by locals as a ‘Father pushing his child on a swing’ as the gentle Atlantic tidal pulse pushes the waters of the Bay of Fundy to-and-fro. The dramatic views are a must-see, and Scott Travers admitted that guests at the mill always ask to be escorted to the roof to see this daily natural phenomenon.
In Hantsport, the late 19th century saw the shipyards as the dominant industry. In the early 20th century expansion in the region led to the founding of the Minas Basin Pulp and Power (MBPP). Established in 1927 by the late Roy A. Jodrey, this family-owned and operated company originally produced a single product, groundwood pulp. Jodrey also built the mill’s dam and power plant in St. Croix, NS, at a time before the essential technology for such a massive endeavour was not readily available in the region. Paperboard capacity was added to the mill in 1946. George Bishop, president of Scotia Investments and Chairman of MBPP is the grandson of Roy Jodrey and said at the 75th anniversary of the company, “We’ve been around for 75 years, and we hope to be around for at least 75 more. You don’t achieve that without substantial investment in equipment and people.”
In 1994, MBPP closed its groundwood operation. In 1991 they switched from partial to 100% recyclable furnish, diverting approximately 10.8 million cubic feet of wastepaper from landfills annually. A year later saw MBPP as the first mill in Nova Scotia, and one of the first in Canada, to be in total compliance with all Federal pulp and paper effluent regulations. On November 23rd, 1996 the first linerboard rolled off PM2, the end result of a $34 million investment, tripling the mill’s paperboard capacity.
‘Profitability through people, quality and the environment’ is the mission statement of MBPP and it rings as true today as it did in 1927. Many of the workers are second and third generation employees and, as George Bishop mentioned, “This is a fact that we are very proud of.” Combined, he employees have over 2,000 years of papermaking experience, which translates into a unique relation with the entire community of Hantsport.
On May 14, 1984, Scott Travers walked into the mill as a process engineer. While his family traces its roots back to Atlantic Canada, he was born in Quebec City. A graduate of St. Mary’s in Halifax, he admitted that as a young man he would never have thought he would be involved in the paper industry. “I always had an appetite to make a difference, and I knew that I liked working with people,” he said. At age 41, as president and COO, he has had a major impact on the mill. Environmental, community and educational considerations have always been at the forefront for Travers. In 2001, along with the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency, MBPP established a comprehensive educational and training program for all employees. The belief was that, even though it is widely accepted that knowledge and skills drive the economy, it is the people who drive this knowledge and these skills. The connection between staff training and productivity is well respected by Travers, When the program was initiated he said, “Our company must address the current market challenges by exploring new methods and technologies and realizing new levels of competitiveness. One of the very important tools to achieve these challenges is professional training for our employees.” Today, he added, “You can actually feel the self esteem that our employees have gained through this program. With the assistance of PAPTAC, we built an in-house training program, so that every employee would have an over-all understanding of the papermaking process.”
Scott Travers’ relationship with PAPTAC spans 18 years. He has participated on the Multi-Ply Board Committee since 1985, and chaired it in 1986-87. He also served as an Executive Councillor from 1990-2001. Travers said of his PAPTAC involvement, “It’s an incredible network of knowledge that I have always respected. Time after time, I have picked up the telephone and asked, ‘What do I do in this situation?’, and I have received answers. In the autumn of 2004 Scott Travers was elected as Chairman of the PAPTAC Executive Council. Robert Wood, Director of PAPTAC has known Travers for 20 years and simply stated, “I could not be more delighted. The combination of his own experiences at Minas Basin, along with his own personal drive, makes him a great asset.”
Terry Gerhardt, vice president of operations and mill manager, has known Travers for 14 years and said, “This is a man who never stops, and is constantly thinking of new ways to improve both the equipment performance and the way the people at the mill relate to their jobs. “He is definitely a people person,” added George Bishop. “His interests are also amazingly diverse, from his love of flying, to his interest in wind power.” David Fraser, a long-time associate, laughingly said, “I do not think that he ever sleeps. He is only in his forties and look at all that he has accomplished in the industry.”
Scott Travers is a busy man. He continues to fly airplanes with his father, who was a Canadian Air Force bomber pilot during the War. He built a house in Prince Edward Island in the shape of a lighthouse, which his wife operates as a bed and breakfast establishment. He boasts about his children (Tyler 13, Brywinn, 11), who he says teach him something new every day. And he also runs a successful mill operation. His appetite to make a difference is what makes Scott Travers tick.
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TIME LINE – The last twenty years
Minas Basin became the first company in Canada and the only one in the Maritimes to use 100% recycled fibre in their paper mill.
First in Nova Scotia and one of the first in Canada to be in total compliance with all Federal pulp and paper effluent regulations.
Installed PM2 — Minas Basin saw a tripling in capacity.
The newly renovated Minas Basin Development Centre was opened to be used for enhanced training for its employees. This was a partnership arran
gement with ACOA (Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency)
Shared Values (Creating A Quality Organization Through Shared Values) program was adopted and introduced to all hourly and salaried employees. Intensive Train the Trainer program give to team leaders.
The Nova Scotia Bay of Fundy/Gulf of Main Business Partnership Award was awarded to Minas Basin for its shift in business practices. The company now uses 100% recycled fibre as feedstock for production of 70,000 metric tonnes per year of paperboard as well as attaining the EcoLogo certification for the production of green energy from its hydro division. Minas Basin was one of the first hydro dam sites in Nova Scotia producing 5 mega watts of power and is one of only two that serves the Nova Scotia Power grid.
Optimized Mill operations by closure of PM1- unfortunately 46 positions lost
All production shifted to PM2
1st mill in Canada to implement PAPTAC Pulp and Papermaking Course, given to every employee.
Received Award for Excellence in Workplace Literacy – This award is given to companies that have developed superior workplace literacy programs to enhance employee reading, writing and numeracy skills.