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Paperweek International 2004: Supporting the Membership


March 1, 2004
By Pulp & Paper Canada

Ten years short of being a centenarian, PaperWeek International has been graced by generations of papermakers. But with the stagnant economy and unstable markets, is attending international conferences really beneficial to the industry?

Ten years short of being a centenarian, PaperWeek International has been graced by generations of papermakers. But with the stagnant economy and unstable markets, is attending international conferences really beneficial to the industry?

The answer is yes, said Rob Wood, executive director of the Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada, which organizes the conference.

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“The value in participating in [PaperWeek International] and EXFOR will be plain to see,” Wood said in a statement. “The investment in our human resources will undoubtedly generate dividends since the mills will be able to reduce costs and increase efficiencies.”

Conferences like PaperWeek are also a tool for training young people, according to Wood. “There’s a lot of new people coming in,” he explained. “And a lot of very experienced people with a lot of knowledge will retire — there’s a knowledge gap to be created and there should be a succession plan.”

Companies are addressing this problem, and this is where the PAPTAC conference can help. “The industry is open in sharing technology,” he said. The technical sessions sponsored by different PAPTAC committees are a pool of knowledge when it comes to the new and existing technologies.

“PAPTAC is there to fill a need,” said Peter Tyne, NorskeCanada, Powell River, BC, who is serving his second term as PAPTAC chairman. This need, he explained, is the knowledge of the fast-changing technological advances in the industry.

“We’re going to continue to improve. We have to change the organization to meet the [member’s] needs,” Tyne said.

One change will happen next year, when the conference will be moved to the second week of February to accommodate several mills’ annual meeting, usually held the last week of January — the same time that PaperWeek was held in the past.

“The change in dates will create less scheduling conflicts with existing corporate shareholder meetings within the industry,” said Wood. “This will allow for greater participation from CEOs.”

PAPTAC’s Jo-Ann Roy agreed that the association exists to fill a need. “Our main purpose is to offer professional development to all our members.” Being the manager of events, Roy is responsible for overseeing logistics during PaperWeek International, the biggest annual event in the industry.

A few other industries indirectly benefit from Paperweek, Roy explained. Examples are many electrical companies and big corporations like Hydro-Quebec, to name a few. “People who come to the trade show are decision-makers in the mills,” Roy explained.

Wood agreed. “The calibre of individuals in attendance was particularly high this year and consisted of mill superintendents, managers, directors, VPs. and CEOs,” he proudly said.

“To serve both needs of the mill people and the suppliers — that’s our goal. That’s why we put both sectors together in one venue,” she said.

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JUMPSTARTING PAPERWEEK

If Einstein has E=mc2, PAPTAC events manager Jo-Ann Roy has the 1 year=3 days formula. It means one year of preparation for PaperWeek International equals three days of learning and networking.

“As soon as the previous conference is over, we start working on the next one as early as the end of February,” said Roy, who oversees the organization of the biggest annual event in the industry.

“We start to sort out graphics, ads and supplements in February. We start to think about logistics — looking for entertainers, venues and social activities, then the program is put together around the end of July,” Roy explained.

It is hard work, but it is fun, stated Roy. “The challenge is to organize not only a great show and great sessions, but also a great banquet.

“But after all the hard work, there’s always the satisfaction at the end of the show that we provided a great service,” she said.

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PAPERWEEK HISTORY 101

The 90th annual PaperWeek International just concluded and suffice to say its roots grow deep.

PaperWeek started as the annual meeting of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, organized mainly by the CPPA’s technical section. Held in Montreal every last week of January, the annual meeting was given the name PaperWeek International in the early 1990s.

In 1998, the CPPA board of directors decided to split the organization and spin off certain departments into organizations of their own because some member companies want to opt out of the services they are not using. By doing so, companies can choose which organizations they will be members of.

The technical section and the events department merged to become PAPTAC. The woodlands section became the Canadian Woodlands Forum, which eventually became a Maritimes-based association, from being a national organization. The statistics and trades groups became the Pulp and Paper Products Council.

The CPPA moved to Ottawa and changed its mandate in 1999 to become a lobbying group for the forest products industry. The CPPA ceased to exist and became the Forest Products Association of Canada.

Member companies suddenly have the option to only pay for whatever services they need, while opting out for those they are not using.

With all these changes, PAPTAC membership was not greatly affected.

“PAPTAC relies on individual membership so it’s not a big factor,” said Jo-Ann Roy, events manager.

Both the FPAC and the PPPC are now co-sponsoring the event together with PAPTAC.

PaperWeek is synonymous with EXFOR, which is the products exhibition that just celebrated its 46th anniversary this year.

EXFOR is now as popular as the conference itself that most people refer to PaperWeek as the EXFOR conference.

“It started with about 20 exhibitors at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, all were supplier companies which are members of the technical committee,” explained Roy.

“From there it grew, until in 1984 we had to move from the Queen Elizabeth Hotel to the Palais des Congres,” Roy reminisced.

The conference continues to grow and this year, despite the stagnant markets and the bearish economy, PaperWeek International and EXFOR 2004 attracted 9,088 participants from 28 countries. There were 4,487 people who visited the booths of the 420 exhibiting companies. There were 910 delegates who attended the PAPTAC technical conference and 3,691 EXFOR exhibitors this year. Another 1,000 delegates attended the PPPC and FPAC seminars at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

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