Posts Tagged ‘Chadwick Wasilenkoff’

FORTRESS PAPER ANNOUNCES ELECTRICITY SUPPLY AGREEMENT WITH HYDRO QUÉBEC

Posted: Monday, October 1st, 2012

To read the Fortress Paper press release, please click here.

Fortress Paper Provides Landqart Operational Update

Posted: Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Fortress Paper Ltd. (“Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) (TSX:FTP), announces that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Landqart AG, a leading manufacturer of banknote and security papers, has had a material banknote order reinstated. This order was unexpectedly suspended in the fourth quarter of 2011 which negatively impacted the financial results of Landqart’s operations in the first half of 2012.

Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Fortress Paper, commented, “The recommencement of this previously delayed order will provide Landqart with momentum to realize additional orders and maximize operating efficiencies. This important order allows Landqart to better optimize the overall mill and should provide a meaningful contribution to its margins compared to recent quarters.”

Sources: Marketwire, Fortress Paper

Fortress Paper Announces New Appointments

Posted: Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) (‘Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) announces the appointment of Andre Boucher as Chief Operating Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc., a wholly-owned operating subsidiary which produces dissolving pulp.

Mr. Boucher has over 30 years of industry experience in the specialty cellulose sector including 24 years at Tembec Inc. where he was the General Manager of the Temiscaming dissolving pulp mill. Mr. Boucher was responsible for overall mill optimization and development of specialty products, including a full range of acetate and other specialty pulps. Most recently, Mr. Boucher was General Manager of Ethanol Operations for Suncor Energy Inc. where he developed the facility from concept to an efficient operating mill.

Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Paper, commented: “Andre brings a wealth of experience and technical talent to Fortress Paper at a time when we are growing our dissolving pulp business. We feel his mill optimization and unique experience in transitioning a viscose-grade dissolving pulp mill to a specialty-grade dissolving pulp mill will further enhance our already strong specialty cellulose team. Andre’s addition provides us with more flexibility as we balance our key personnel between Thurso and our other strategic projects.”

In addition, Fortress Paper is pleased to announce that Marco Veilleux has been promoted to Vice-President, Business Development and Strategic Projects of Fortress Paper from his former role as Chief Operating Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. Mr. Veilleux was an important member of the executive team which managed the successful staffing, startup and conversion to dissolving pulp at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill. Mr. Veilleux will focus on special and strategic projects, manage risk and compliance matters and will assume other key corporate responsibilities within Fortress Paper.

SOURCES:  Fortress Paper Ltd., Marketwire

Financial Post Q and A with Fortress Paper CEO

Posted: Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Fortress Paper CEO looks for opportunity where others see problems, “Paper Profit”. The Canadian forest and paper products sector is far away from it’s peak. Companies have been hit hard by the financial crisis, penalized by the strong Canadian dollar, and crippled by balance sheets that are over leveraged. However, out of challenging times, emerges opportunity for Canadian business. Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of Fortress Paper Ltd. — which operates a banknote business, a wallpaper business and a pulp mill and Financial Post reporter Jonathan Ratner sat down for lunch to discuss how he is capitalizing the market.

Q The economy is on everyone’s mind these days. Are your businesses equally sensitive to growth?
A Our banknote business generally could be considered recession-proof. Banknotes are growing at 4% per year and they’ve done that for decades. Even in a financial crisis there is a little bit of noise, but not very much. Countries used to change over their banknotes every 14 or 15 years, but with the advent of colour photocopiers, scanners and digital processing equipment, they are changing their series every seven or eight years. There is also quite a bit of growth globally in emerging economies. They are all moving up in income status, but they still buy their fruits, vegetables and sandals off street vendors. That means more and more ATM machines on street corners, which is actually a driver for our business.

Q What about the wallpaper business?
A We had a few bad months, but we found it was just our customers reducing inventory. They were uncertain, but once they ran out of product, they quickly came back and had to order more. Historical data show that wallpaper also happens to be somewhat recession-proof. During the recession, people were forced to stay in their existing homes a little bit longer. But they still want to improve their surroundings, so they are do more renovations.

Q What’s the status of your third business?
A We’re going through a major conversion to make dissolving pulp at the mill we bought in Quebec. It will be shipped over to China, go through more conversion processes, then ultimately be made into rayon. The finished product is a substitute for cotton. Typically, rayon trades at a premium to cotton because it is a better product. However, the cost structure is significantly lower than cotton, so there is always going to be some margin whether it is for us, or the rayon producers. We’ve actually pre-sold about 80% of our production — half on dissolving pulp spot prices and the other half on the rayon price. So wherever the margin goes, we’ll be sharing in it fairly consistently.

Q How do you deal with fluctuating commodity prices?
A While there are no synergies between the businesses, we end up with some natural hedges, which helps. For example, when cotton prices take off, it hurts our banknote business. But at the same time, our dissolving pulp — being a replacement for cotton — does exceptionally well. Similarly, as prices go up it’s great for our paper pulp mill, but it hurts margins at our wallpaper division. When cotton spiked at the start of the year, the specialized cotton we use in banknotes was up 350% in the course of four months. It is very, very difficult to try to maintain any margins when you’re bidding on a deal today, and you’re underwater by the time you get the cotton.

Q When you make a pitch to investors, how do you characterize Fortress?
A We’re a growth story and we’re very opportunistic. There are very few synergies between our different segments and businesses, but the similarities are that they have very high barriers to entry, a good macro environment in terms of the growth profile, and supply and demand drivers. I always look at the industry first, then I go and try to find the best assets available in the world. I’m always interested is growing out each of those divisions individually, but at the same time they are also for sale at all times.

Q What is your experience doing business in China?
A I have a strong focus on China. I have been doing business there for about eight years and go there at least once a quarter. But I learned some hard lessons during the first couple of trips. I went over with a Western business style, but never got those return calls. So I’ve since hired cultural coaches to help understand how the Chinese do business. It’s all about developing relationships and trust.

Q How did you break into the ultra-exclusive banknote business?
A It was by far the most challenging investment I’ve ever had to make. It is a very secretive industry. They obviously don’t want a lot of publicity or press in terms of people knowing what is going on with security features and things like that. You have to have clearance. Once we owned a mill and we were part of this closed group, people still didn’t like to talk. A lot of the companies have been around for decades and are still family-owned. The customers — national banks — are very slow, conservative and methodical. You may have a great product and the right price, but everything needs to be absolutely perfect and the timing must be right. Once we develop the relationship and help cultivate it, it is great business because it is very sticky. The national banks are reluctant to change once you’re their supplier.

Q What is the biggest misconception about this industry?
A Most of the forestry sector is going through tough times. They spent a lot of capital and they are high-cost producers, so it is difficult to compete. We get thrown in with forestry companies where everyone says nobody can make money. But we are one of these unique companies in that we are coming in late, picking up assets at next to nothing because nobody else is looking, then turning them around. We have a longer growth profile, so we are not in a hurry. We’re also always looking to be the lowest-cost producer in anything we get involved in, so we can ride out these trends. I don’t know when forestry is going to turn or come back in vogue — if it ever will — but in the meantime we have to be prepared for a long, hard slog through these different businesses.

SOURCE:

 

BBC Features Fortress Paper’s Banknote Facility

Posted: Friday, September 23rd, 2011

BBC News visited Fortress Paper’s facility in Landquart, Switzerland this week to learn about the process of making banknotes.

In a video featured in the BBC’s Business section, Marco Ziethen, the production manager at Landquart, takes reporter Lucy Burton through a step-by-step guide to manufacturing banknotes. From importing, refining and bleaching cotton, Ziethen showed how cotton gets turned into currency. Ziethen also explained how, as the paper is being made, security features are embedded in order to prevent counterfeiting of whatever currency is being produced.

The Landquart facility produces an astonishing number of banknotes each day, said the BBC.

“Each pallet has 18,000 sheets of paper on it. Each sheet will eventually be cut into 54 notes. That is an impressive 972,000 notes on each pallet. The mill runs 24 hours a day and it takes half an hour to make a pallet. So, overall, the mill can turn out around 46,656,000 notes per day,” Burton wrote. “If they are making 500-euro notes that day, the amount of money passing through these doors is simply mind-boggling.”

Vancouver-based Fortress Paper Ltd., has made significant strides in production since they began running the Swiss mill, going from “producing less than 1,000 tonnes of paper per year to 10,000 tonnes per year,” according to the BBC article.

Getting to this point, however hasn’t been easy. In another video posted on their site, Fortress Paper CEO Chad Wasilenkoff said the business provided some initial challenges.

“The banknote and passport industry is a very closed group of people,” he said. “A lot of the companies that are operating in this space have been operating since the 1500s or 1600s so we’re a fairly new entry into this.”

Getting reference orders and new contracts with national banks can be challenging, said Wasilenkoff, but Fortress has made some impressive in-roads acquiring large contracts with countries such as Switzerland to produce the Swiss franc – considered to be an industry standard in security.

In addition to these contracts, the banknote industry is one that is perpetually in flux. As technologies change, national banks have to keep updating security features on their banknotes to curb counterfeiting.

“Fortress hopes that the Landquart mill can help banks to ‘stay ahead of the curve’ and of course – make some money in the process,” Burton wrote.

Read the full BBC article and watch the videos HERE.

SOURCE:
BBC News: “How To Make Money From Making Money”

Fortress CEO Discusses High Tech Forestry Sector On BNN

Posted: Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Fortress Paper Ltd. CEO Chad Wasilenkoff appeared on the Business News Network this week to talk about the resurgence of the Canadian forestry sector thanks to diversification of products and forward thinking attitudes in the industry.

The forestry sector has “gone through a couple of challenging decades,” he said on Tuesday. “So we now need to change that sector and drive forth with new innovation and cutting edge technology to remain globally competitive.”

In the past, the forestry sector was mainly concerned with just wood and pulp. Changing that direction is what is allowing the forestry sector to thrive once again, said Wasilenkoff.

Echoing some of the themes found in an article recently published in the Vancouver Sun and the Windsor Star, Wasilenkoff said today’s foresty sector is now driven by high-tech initiatives, focusing on areas such as biochemistry, genetics, computer modeling, satellite imagery, and digital processing – among others.

The industry now is “more of a biorefiner,” Wasilenkoff said. “We’re taking the wood, we’re breaking it down to the molecular level and extracting as many products as we can to get as much value out of that wood as possible.”

Wasilenkoff also spoke about the Bio-Pathways project – a government sponsored initiative to further research and development in the sector – as well as his own company’s plans for the future with their dissolving pulp mill located in Thurso, Quebec.

Watch the entire video HERE

SOURCE:
BNN: “High Tech Forest Sector”
BNN: “Saving The Forestry Sector One Innovation At A Time”

Future of Canada’s Forestry Sector is Renewable

Posted: Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

by CHAD WASILENKOFF

Push aside dated notions of our global forestry sector as dominated by lumberjacks focused solely on logging trees and processing the wood. Today’s forests are increasingly high-tech with employees skilled in biochemistry, genetics, computer modeling, satellite imagery, and digital processing.

Today’s bio-economy is a dynamic global market that mirrors a paradigm shift to products that originate from natural renewable sources. Mills that have focused on processing timber and pulp are beginning to diversify into bio-energy, bio-chemicals and bio-materials which include wood fibre and biomass that is converted into renewable fuel, food additives, non-toxic chemicals, solvents, plastics, textiles, and other products.

The International Council of Forest and Paper Associations, (ICFPA), which represents the global forest and paper industry, champions the role of our global forest sector as a central, thriving player in our new bio-age. The international forest and paper industry is committed to the principles of sustainable development and ensuring that the environmental, social and economic benefits of our natural resources are available to current and future generations. Studies have shown that by repurposing the chemicals and bio-materials extracted from trees, we can tap into a potential global market estimated at around $200 billion.

The global forestry industry is a vital benefactor to our world’s sustainable development. The worldwide forestry sector supports thousands of communities as a supplier of millions of jobs across the globe. The forestry sector prides itself on its use of renewable raw material and record of sustainable forest management and application of cleaner technologies in an increasing number of mill operations. More and more mills across the world are converting their wood residues into heat and power for their own operations with most of the sector’s energy coming from waste biomass with some facilities already acting as net sources of green power. With its strong reliance on biofuels, maximum recycling rates and the storage of carbon in its wood and paper products, our global forestry sector is at the forefront of the renewable era.

The forestry sector is finding new life in innovative and creative solutions that are not only helping the once struggling industry turn around, but also helping to usher in a green movement. After two years of work by FPAC, FPInnovations, and the Canadian Forest Service (CFS) of Natural Resources Canada, a new program called the Bio-pathways Project was set into motion this year with the goal of revitalizing the Canadian forestry sector. The project looks outside of traditional uses for wood, lumber, pulp and paper in an effort to create new jobs and sectors with a more sustainable future for the country and its citizens. New, innovative products include bio-active paper – paper towels than can indicate contamination; nanocrystalline cellulose composites that can replace materials in aircraft; wood-based textiles (such as rayon); and cross-laminated timber – a technology that produces strong beams and panels for construction products.

As the CEO of a security and specialty pulp and paper company, we are in the process of transforming Quebec’s Thurso mill from a traditional pulp mill to a specialty dissolving pulp operation. Dissolving pulp, a chemically refined bleached pulp of pure cellulose fibers extracted from trees that are used to produce rayon, is a popular cotton substitute in China and other markets. With our Quebec facility, we are transforming an under-utilized asset which struggled for market-share in the low-value add commodity marketplace. The evolution to dissolving pulp from traditional pulp metamorphoses the mill into a globally competitive, low-cost producer with a sustainable and profitable long-term future.

The future of the forestry sector is here today and it offers a bold, innovative, profitable and environmentally conscious path for the industry. Our global concern to reduce greenhouse gas emissions leads us through the forest to invest in renewable energy technologies that use wood fibre. As more forestry firms invest in technologies to increase their reliance on biomass for fuel versus fossil fuels, we drive the future of the forest sector to develop new biotechnologies, new jobs and greener prospects.

As our global forestry sector expands and leads the way to produce new and innovative bioproducts, we will experience greatly enhanced employment opportunities and financial returns than from traditional stand-alone mills. By incorporating new technologies into existing mills, we can ensure that these integrated operations will utilize all parts of the trees and extract the most value possible to ensure an environmentally friendly, sustainable, and profitable future.

About the Author:
As Fortress Paper’s Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Director, Chadwick Wasilenkoff, oversees the company’s production of security and other specialty papers. Based in Vancouver, Canada, Wasilenkoff is an established entrepreneur with extensive capital markets experience specializing in the resource industry and currently serves as a director with various publicly listed companies.

SOURCE:
Vancouver Sun: “Future of Canada’s Forestry Sector is Renewable”
The Windsor Star: “A Renewable Forestry”
International Forest Industries: “Future of Canada’s Forestry Sector is Renewable”
The Post-Journal: “Future Of Global Forestry Sector Is Renewable”

Fortress Paper to Release First Quarter 2011 Earnings

Posted: Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Marketwire – May 31, 2011) -

Fortress Paper Ltd. (TSX:FTP) (“Fortress Paper” or the “Corporation”) announced today that it intends to release its first quarter financial results for the period ended March 31st, 2011 after the close of the market on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011. In connection with the release of its results, Fortress Paper will host a conference call Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. (PST) to discuss the financial results and the Corporation’s operations. Mr. Chadwick Wasilenkoff, Chief Executive Officer, Alfonso Ciotola, President, Erich Sulser, Chief Operating Officer, Kurt Loewen, Chief Financial Officer and Peter Vinall, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fortress Specialty Cellulose Inc. will host the call.

To participate in the conference call, please dial one of the following numbers:

Dial In Numbers: 604-681-0262 Vancouver
403-532-8075 Calgary or International
780-429-7423 Edmonton
647-837-0597 Toronto
613-683-0932 Ottawa
514-788-7663 Montreal
Toll Free Dial In Number: 1-877-353-9586 from Canada and USA
Participant Pass Code: 98030#
Conference Reference Number: 545090

 

A replay of the conference call will be available for 7 days. To access the replay, listeners may dial 1-877-353-9587 from Canada & the USA or dial 403-699-1055 from local Calgary or International. The conference reference number is 545090 # and the participant pass code to access the replay is 98030 #.

About Fortress Paper Ltd.

Fortress Paper is a leading international producer of security and other specialty papers and products. Fortress Paper operates three mills, the Landqart Mill located in Switzerland, the Dresden Mill located in Germany and the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill located in Quebec, Canada. Fortress Paper‘s security papers include banknote, high security, passport and visa papers and its specialty papers include non-woven wallpaper base products. Fortress Paper‘s pulp business includes NBHK produced at the Fortress Specialty Cellulose Mill with plans to convert this capacity into dissolving pulp production along with the construction of a biomass based cogeneration plant.

NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION TO UNITED STATES NEWSWIRE SERVICES OR FOR DISSEMINATION IN THE UNITED STATES.

 

Sources:

Marketwire

Fortress Paper Ltd.

Fortress Paper’s Chad Wasilenkoff named Entrepreneur of the Year

Posted: Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Chad Wasilenkoff of the thriving North Vancouver company Fortress Paper was named Entrepreneur of the Year on Tuesday by Ernst & Young.

The 38-year-old Fortress board chair and CEO started the company in 2006 with a focus on international specialty and security products — including paper stock for currency and passports — and has seen sales grow to more than $200 million a year.

Share prices for the TSX-traded company have increased about sixfold over that time.

Ernst & Young presented him with the Pacific region award at a Tuesday-evening event attended by 1,300 members of the B.C. business community.

“Chad is a shining example of how our British Columbia entrepreneurs are demonstrating they’re not afraid of the shakeup of an economic downturn,” event director Fred Withers said in a news release.

“Instead, Chad saw an opportunity to up the competitive ante by focusing on innovation, enhancing Fortress’s presence in new markets, and ultimately emerging stronger than ever before.”

Peter Brown, founder and chair of Canaccord Financial, received the 2010 Pacific region Lifetime Achievement Award “in recognition of his outstanding support of B.C.’s business community and his significant achievements as an entrepreneur,” the news release said.

Ernst & Young also presented awards in seven entrepreneur categories.

Charles Kim, president and CEO of Trans Pac Group of Companies, won for business-to-business products and services. Ernst & Young said Trans Pac is primarily a wood products business that specializes in log and lumber exports to Asian markets. Samir Manji, chairman, president and CEO of Amica Mature Lifestyles, also won for business-to-consumer products and services. Amica is a leader in the management, marketing, design and development of luxury housing and services for mature lifestyles, Ernst & Young said.Elton Pereira, co-founder, president and CEO of ParetoLogic, Inc. of Victoria, won for information technology. ParetoLogic creates a wide range of computer security and utility programs, Ernst & Young said.Nicole von Stefenelli, founder and CEO of Richmond’s Urban Impact Recycling Ltd., won for Cleantech. Urban Impact is a commercial transportation and processing company specializing in recycling, shredding and waste management services. Janice Abbott, CEO of Vancouver’s Atira Property Management, won for social entrepreneur. Atira provides property management services for strata corporations, developers, rental properties, non-profit housing, and housing cooperatives in Metro Vancouver. The company uses all profits to fund the Atira Women’s Resource Society’s housing and support programs for women and children who have been affected by violence, Ernst & Young said.Peter Barnes, CEO of Vancouver’s Silver Wheaton Corp., won for mining and metals. The company has quickly positioned itself as the largest metals streaming company in the world, Ernst & Young noted.Emad Yacoub, president and CEO of the Glowbal Restaurant Group of Vancouver, took the award for hospitality and tourism. Glowbal group is composed of six restaurants, two lounges and a full-service catering company.

By Scott Simpson for The Vancouver Sun. September 29, 2010.

SOURCE:
The Vancouver Sun: Fortress Paper’s Chad Wasilenkoff named Entrepreneur of the Year

THE OTTAWA CITIZEN: “The Future Looks Fluffy”

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Driven by the imperatives of globalized economics and digital technology, Ottawa’s pulp-and-paper heritage has been reduced to a remnant.

The forestry industry that built the Ottawa-Gatineau economy appears to be on its last legs.

Hammered by the Internet’s growing grip on personal communications, the rich Canadian dollar and intense competition, the forestry industry continues to slash operations in the hopes of finding a smaller, profitable core.

The industry, which employed 5,000 people just 20 years ago, today has dwindled as Domtar-Eddy mills in Ottawa, an AbitibiBowater mill in Gatineau, a Smurfit-Stone mill at Portage, and Domtar mills in Cornwall slashed staff and finally closed. Fewer than 1,200 jobs remain, focused on a few niche markets far removed from the newsprint and lumber products that drove the industry for 150 years.

Next to go could be 200 jobs at Papier Masson, a newsprint operation in the east end of Gatineau, which was founded James Maclaren, a pulp and paper pioneer, and later owned by Noranda.

White Birch Paper of Connecticut, Papier Masson’s current owner, has hired Lazard Freres, the New York private banker that helped sell Nortel assets, to find new owners for three mills in Quebec and one in the U.S.

White Birch, operating under bankruptcy protection since February, opened the doors to prospective bidders last month.

The threat is there will be no bidders and that some mills will close in a major restructuring, adding to the thousands of lost jobs in the industry.

Certainly, the relentless march of the Internet into every corner of human communications is destroying demand for newsprint, telephone directories, copying paper, books, magazines and glossy printed advertising across the Western world.

The result is that mills that employed thousands and drove the industry for more than 80 years are being sold for less than $3 million each.

One huge AbitibiBowater mill in Thunder Bay sold for just $100,000 because of environmental cleanup issues.

The recently upgraded machinery in four former AbitibiBowater mills sold for just $5 million — not much more than scrap value.

The real value now is in the land, including about 40 acres controlled by Domtar in the heart of Hull across the Chaudière Bridge and Chaudière Island into Ottawa.

However, while the Ottawa regional industry is in deep trouble, new profitable product lines are emerging and demand for older products is rebounding, at least temporarily.

The trouble is that most of the Ottawa regional mills are too big or too old to be revived. With governments taking a hands-off approach — after spending billions bailing out GM and Chrysler — bankruptcy courts will decide the fate of underfunded pension plans, unpaid severance and struggling suppliers.

The federal government finally rolled out a $170-million investment program this week, too late for most Ottawa companies.

“The forestry industry employs more people in more places across Canada than the auto industry, but governments have turned their backs,” said Kim Ginter, a vice-president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers union.

“Many mills are competitive, but need investment. We still have the best source of fibre in Canada, but, once the mills go, it will be very hard to get them back.”

For the few survivors, there could be light at the end of the tunnel.

After years of declining sales and heavy losses, sales of many forestry products companies rebounded in the last six months.

It wasn’t much, just two per cent in the case of Domtar and other companies, but it surprised analysts and had business leaders and bankruptcy monitors scratching their heads. They had expected declines of at least two per cent.

Sales of AbitibiBowater rose 2.6 per cent between April and May, though the wounded newsprint giant is mired in bankruptcy.

Even before it shut the huge Gatineau mill this spring, AbitibiBowater had slashed newsprint production by 3.4 million metric tonnes or 32 per cent since 2007. It also sold off $940 million in assets, including $615 million in a Quebec power company.

A surprised bankruptcy monitor reported last month that White Birch sales were not significantly hurt despite the stigma of defaulting on loans and pension obligations and seeking court protection from creditors.

Sales at Papier Masson were 18 per cent higher than the monitor predicted for the June quarter, and the White Birch cash burn was 70 per cent lower than forecast.

The reason is basic economics: Deep, permanent cuts to production mean that prices jump with the smallest improvement in sales. While demand for newsprint continues to fall, the deep production cuts of the 2008-2009 recession were deeper than immediately necessary.

The result is the price of pulp was more than 50 per cent higher in the June quarter from a year earlier, and Domtar is running hard in a bid to keep up.

Domtar chief executive John Williams told an industry conference: “If you look at tissue, if you look at toweling, if you look at printing and writing, in the geographies where we are selling, those markets are actually growing. So we see a long-term pretty positive trend for pulp.”

His company converted a Massachusetts mill from newsprint pulp to fluff pulp.

“We currently sell 150,000 tons of fluff pulp, (and) we’ll move up to 444,000 tons (by December 2010.)

“If you take fluff pulp, it’s largely used in diaper markets and in the incontinence marketplace. That’s a very fast-growing market both in developed economies and developing countries because of the demographic.”

Fluff pulp doesn’t have the brawny feel of the traditional products like lumber and newsprint that defined the industry and Stompin’ Tom Connors is unlikely to add a new verse about fluff pulp or air-laid superabsorbent paper to Big Joe Mufferaw, his ballad celebrating the Ottawa Valley logger and raftsman, but fluff pulp is immune to the Internet.

Glatfelter, a Pennsylvania specialty paper producer that makes tea bags and labels, bought the Concert Industries plant near the Gatineau airport in January for $246.5 million. It employs 285 people making super-absorbent paper sold to companies like Procter & Gamble and Johnson&Johnson.

It is primarily used in feminine hygiene products, a market that is growing about five per cent annually as the combination of growing prosperity and a huge young population opens new markets.

Farther east in Thurso, the moribund Fraser Pulp mill, once owned by James Maclaren, is being revived after it was closed a year ago. Fortress Paper is converting the mill to produce cellulose used in rayon, a cheaper, more environmentally-sound alternative to cotton.

“The forest products industry will continue to decline and there will be more pain,” Fortess founder Chad Wasilenkoff said.

“But there are still specialty niche production operations available at attractive prices which can yield good profits.”

While buying the Thurso pulp mill makes sense, he said that buying newsprint mills in North America did not. “This is still an industry that is profitable only about one year in 10.”

The share price of his company has quadrupled in the last year in part because of two profitable mills in Europe that produce paper for the banknote and wallpaper industry.

Better still is the Kruger Products mill on Rue Laurier next to the Museum of Civilization. For much of its 70-year history, it had a water tower with a White Swan logo that made it a landmark.

Today it is the sole survivor of the E.B. Eddy-Domtar mills, which, for 160 years, stretched from the Museum of Civilization site to the Chaudière Bridge and onto Lebreton Flats.

Three Kruger papermaking machines roar around the clock, turning out Spongetowels, Scotties and White Swan industrial towels.

Kruger employs 475 people at the mill and another plant in Hull that processes and packages the material.

It is spending $4.8 million with Quebec government assistance to capture lost steam, reduce operating expenses and reduce the carbon footprint of machines that have been running for 60 years.

With backing from governments, companies like Domtar are investing in new technology to make operations cleaner, greener and more efficient.

Domtar is investing $32 million in new technology to create nanocrystaline cellulose used in optically-reflective films, high-durability varnishes and bioplastics.

The biggest problem for the North American newsprint mills is they are situated in the wrong places.

There is growing demand in developing countries, but newsprint is heavy and expensive to ship. This spring, Canadian newsprint sales to Asia tripled, with two-thirds of the business in India, as buyers stepped aggressively into markets to rebuild inventories depleted during the recession.

No one expects this trend to continue, however. The newsprint industry is still bracing for reductions averaging four per cent annually in demand.

“The paper industry is not going to die,” says Martine Hamel of the Pulp and Paper Products Council. “It faces major challenges, which will mean it will continue to get smaller and focused on different products.

“But the decline will eventually level off and we will still have an important industry and significant employer.”

By Bert Hill for The Ottawa Citizen. September 1st, 2010.

SOURCE:
The Ottawa Citizen: “The Future Looks Fluffy”