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Starting with a Bang

The year 2008 started with a bang for Canada's pulp and paper industry. Announcements of mill closures and fear of more have most in the industry on edge. It's not the first difficult year but we hope...


January 1, 2008
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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The year 2008 started with a bang for Canada’s pulp and paper industry. Announcements of mill closures and fear of more have most in the industry on edge. It’s not the first difficult year but we hope it will be the last.

The reality is, the playing field has changed and so have the rules. As part of this magazine’s commitment to keep you informed, we’ve reprinted an article from the Globe and Mail Report on Business that takes a look at just that. Columnist Konrad Yakabuski — known for his “gloves off” approach to business — takes a swipe at what he considers the mismanagement of Canada’s forest industry over the past 20 years. It Ain’t Pretty (page 23) applauds Finland for continuing to be a strong player in the global market. He accuses Canada’s forest industry players of short-sighted thinking. He points out that Canada is still the biggest exporter of forest products, sending more than $40 billion worth of pulp, paper and lumber products to the US and other countries; that forest products are still the biggest net export, too — “securing more jobs and boosting our trade balance more than any other resource or manufactured good, including oil, gas and autos.” Then he continues: “But our forest companies have frittered away every competitive advantage they once enjoyed….”

If his “take” on the industry gets you riled, I encourage you to share your views with our readers.

One person who has shared his views this issue is John Little, a consultant with more than a couple of decades’ experience working in and with the pulp and paper industry. A regular writer for Pulp & Paper Canada Magazine, John Little has given us his Point of View on page 50. He ponders the dilemma: How do you spot the winners in an industry that is in crisis?

Little suggests that “identifying the corporations and plants that are ‘winners’ requires a look at how the Canadian forest industry got into this mess in the first place and what some of the best industry minds think must be done to get out of it, and stay out of it.”

Point of View is a new column, created to give a voice to those of you in the industry who would like to share your views with our readers. I invite you to contact me to discuss your idea for a column.

Good news does exist in this industry, however. I recently visited Tom Johnstone, president of Buckman Laboratories of Canada in Vaudreuil-Dorion, QC. While Buckman did see a decline in its number of clients last year, its overall volume is up. At the helm for close to 30 years, Tom Johnstone talked about Buckman’s commitment to long-term planning and its international outlook. A privately owned chemical maker with labs and offices all over the world, Buckman is an example of a company that has taken not only steps but strides to remain competitive. The company celebrates it’s 60th anniversary in Canada this year. And we plan on celebrating with them!