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The Man Behind the Mill: Martin Lorrion of Domtar’s Ottawa / Hull Mill


May 1, 2003
By Pulp & Paper Canada

As a young boy growing up in Montreal, I recall my first school field trip to our nation’s capital, and my utter fascination with the Parliament buildings that rose prominently in the Ottawa skyline. …

As a young boy growing up in Montreal, I recall my first school field trip to our nation’s capital, and my utter fascination with the Parliament buildings that rose prominently in the Ottawa skyline. It was not so much the structure itself, but what transpired inside that captivated me. I must also confess that looking down the river I was equally fascinated by yet another large structure, the E.B. Eddy Paper Mill. Inside that complex they transformed wood into paper, an intriguing concept for a curious seven-year-old. This was in the mid-sixties, and even then, the parliament buildings and the Eddy Company had co-existed as neighbours for over one hundred years.

Ezra Butler Eddy arrived in Hull, Quebec (then known as Wrightown) in 1851 and started manufacturing matches by hand. Expansion was rapid and by 1867, as confederation created the new nation of Canada, Mr. Eddy’s company employed over 600 men. As parliament defined the new nation, the Eddy Company symbolized its entrepreneurial future. Its early line of products included matches, pails, washboards and clothes pins. In the years that followed, both structures evolved significantly.

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Present-day mill manager Martin Lorrion not only respects the history of the mill, but equally values the Domtar standards that the corporate owners bring to the operation. His passion is to connect with the community and bring an understanding of what the mill operation means to its surroundings today and in the future. Even after a long day at the mill, Lorrion is always available to meet the public. Patrice Lger-Bourgoin, senior communications advisor calls him, “the best P.R. person I have ever met. His natural manner and his way with people illustrates his strong feelings for both Ottawa and Hull.”

In 1997 Domtar introduced a program that symbolizes its corporate commitment to investing in the community, by allocating both human and financial resources. Domtar believes that by becoming both a party to, and a partner in, the development of the community where their mills are located, it can make a difference. A prime objective is increased co-operation and communication with the public. Besides being a respected mill manager, it is in this domain of communications that Lorrion excels. He humbly suggests that he “simply likes talking to people.”

The majority of mill operations in Canada are rural, and as we have explored in this series of articles, many municipalities were established and survive simply because of the mills’ presence. Domtar’s Ottawa / Hull facility differs. It is in the middle of an urban centre and the nation’s capital, and while a significant employer, it is not the largest employer. The operation also straddles two different municipalities, in two different provinces. The unique challenge of bridging these variables is foremost in Martin Lorrion’s list of priorities. He said, “I like to talk to the community about Domtar and how we strive to always be good corporate citizens. We care about our employees, our products, our customers, and, most importantly, about our relationship with the two provinces and two municipalities that we call home.” Insiders told me that Lorrion is a natural people person. Doug Twigg, operations manager added that, “Martin demonstrates simple good human values and can always be counted upon as a straight shooter.” With twenty-three years of experience in the mills, Twigg sees the industry as “exciting and fast-paced, with technological change around every corner. You need somebody like Martin whose energy ensures everybody’s participation.”

Domtar is the third largest producer of uncoated free sheet in North America. It is also a leading manufacturer of printing, publishing and specialty papers. With close to 22 million acres of forest land under its control, Domtar is a huge player in the pulp and paper industry. Its very size should create a faceless corporation, and yet each mill operation retains its own identity and own unique relationship to its environment.

Pierre Trudel, V.P. of operations (Canadian pulp and paper manufacturing group), told me that the Ottawa/Hull mill will always be appreciated for its strong historic reputation for, “good papermaking, good products, and good development.” Develop it did.

Trudel has known Martin Lorrion for twenty years and simply refers to him as, “a man of action.” Lorrion prioritizes his open door policy to any employee who has “a great idea and wants to improve”. He believes that as production capacity continues to increase world-wide, only the variables of exceptional service and quality will make the difference. And the light in his office burns late into the evening. “I am most proud of the hard-working people who I work with and the quality products that we turn out”. To this I can only add that the initial founder, Mr. E.B. Eddy would have been proud that his mill is staffed by dedicated people like Martin Lorrion.P&PC

Your comments are welcomed at zsoltp@pulpandpapercanada.com

THE EARLY YEARS OF OPERATION (1867-1903)

1867Canadian confederation
1870After 19 years of existence, E.B. Eddy starts operation of sawmill and acquires timber limits. Through its various facilities it employs 600 individuals.
1882Eddy mill and factories are destroyed by fire, but rebuilt within a year. This is the second time fire touched the operation, the first being in 1860.
1889The manufacturing of chemical pulp is introduced on the site of the present-day Museum of Civilization.
1890The first paper machine is installed – 72″ tissue machine.
1895Within five years four more paper machines are added. Newsprint, tissue, board, book & writing, bag paper and wrapping paper roll out of the plant.
1900Third catastrophic fire hits the Eddy plant, and all but the sulphite pulp mill is destroyed.
1901One year later seven paper machines are in operation : Groundwood pulp – 45 ton per day Chemical pulp – 40 ton per day Paper – 80 ton per day
1903First issue of PULP AND PAPER MAGAZINE OF CANADA rolls off the presses.

20TH CENTURY TIME LINE

1954Three new tissue machines are added.
1964Shutdown of fine paper machines PM 5 and PM 6 in Hull
1967Addition of new gas fired boiler with capacity of 275,00 lb/hr of steam.
1968Start up of No. 14 PM, known as “La Grande Chaudiere”
1972PM 8 – newsprint machine, sulphite mill and groundwood mills shut down. Land sold to the National Capital Commission.
1989Three tissue machines (no. 3,4, and 5) sold to Scott Paper Limited.
1995Modernization Project – Dry End PM 14
1998Domtar purchases E.B. Eddy
1999Modernization Project – Wet End PM 14
2000Soft nip calender installation PM 10
2001Martin Lorrion assumes role of mill manager.

Domtar’s Objectives With Their Communities

The company maintains an aggressive policy that includes the following –

Improve the quality of life in the communities where Domtar is present.

Enhance the communication process between the corporation’s employees and non-profit organizations in the community.

Contribute human, material and financial resources for the benefit of the community.

Promote creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and a sense of initiative among organizations in the milieu.


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