Home Blogs FPAC Who works in the forest industry? Amazing people, that’s who!

Who works in the forest industry? Amazing people, that’s who!

The most important part of the Canadian forest products industry isn't the trees, it's the people. Without the 230,000+ employees that make up our industry, it would not be the economic powerhouse that it is. Below, my colleague Paul Lansbergen tells the story of the importance of people to our industry. Like Paul, I am proud to work alongside all of these people and am looking forward to the ongoing contributions of great people to a great industry. – David Lindsay, President and CEO, FPAC

by Paul Lansbergen, Vice President, Regulations and Partnerships, Corp Secretary, FPAC

Have you ever paused to think of why you work where you do? Or about the people you work with and why they are there too? Well, I have on occasion and I would like to share a couple of recent experiences.
First, some context. I have had a professional career spanning 20 years which has enabled me to travel and meet thousands upon thousands of people from coast to coast in different walks of life and occupations. The last 13 years I have been at FPAC meeting and working with employees throughout Canada. (Did I say yet that I love my job?!)

Okay, back to the point of this blog... my recent experiences...

Every winter the Pulp and Paper Technical Association of Canada (PAPTAC) holds its annual PaperWeek. It is a nice opportunity to meet with people that work in the pulp and paper mills across the country, corporate staff, and a breadth of suppliers to the sector. With my tenure in the industry, I am lucky to see a good number of familiar faces and to catch up with friends and associates across the country. This year at PaperWeek, PAPTAC gave out its usual awards for contributions to the sector, in essence recognizing the community behind the sector. A notable award was the Pulp and Paper Industry Builders Award to the Lemaire brothers (Alain, Bernard, and Laurent) in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Cascades Inc., the company they built. I was privileged to sit with Alain during the luncheon ceremony. You could clearly see that he is very proud of the accomplishments of his brothers, himself and their employees. Bravo!

Then last week, I had the distinct pleasure to present on behalf of FPAC, our very first Lifetime Achievement Award to Michael Bradley, recently retired from Canfor Pulp. Mike started in the pulp and paper sector in 1970 working for Domtar in the UK. In 1981, he joined the Canadian sector when he moved to Domtar's mill in Cornwall, Ontario. In 1988 he joined Canfor (and ultimately Canfor Pulp) in BC. In the beginning at Canfor, his position was a rare responsibility of making connections between the mills and customers. I say rare, because back then our sector pushed product out the door assuming that the sales staff could make the sale. The sales weren't based so much on what the customer wanted but what the sector could deliver. Mike helped to change that philosophy. He assured customers that we were responsibly managing the forest (more or less) and that our softwood trees produced superior long fibres for papermaking. But he also challenged his company, and the sector, to improve. Early examples of Mike's successes include the development of the first total chlorine free (TCF) market pulp mill in Port Mellon, BC (now Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Corporation), and Canfor Pulp being the first in North America to adopt the ISO9000 management standard.

Over the years, Mike contributed to the overall sector by participating in FPAC's predecessor, the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association, and within the last dozen or so years on FPAC's Climate Change Committee, Market Acceptance/Leadership Committees and Sustainability Steering Committee.. Throughout this time Mike became involved in a number of issues of deep concern to customers:

  • Vocal call to action within the industry to address a number of environmental impacts of pulp and paper making
  • Better communication of sustainability – environmental, economic, and social – metrics in the sector
  • Adoption of life cycle analysis to improve the measurement and understanding of environmental impacts and benefits of Canadian pulp and paper along the supply chain
  • Engagement with customers and other stakeholders to discuss and understand Canadian forestry practices , including being part of the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement – 15 years of process leading to a resolution

But one of Mike's passions has been climate change and the sector's role in the global issue. This is when I met him. He was the first Chair of the FPAC Climate Change Committee. For most of his tenure as Chair, I was the FPAC staff person helping the Committee in its deliberations. It was a proud moment for all of us in November 2003, when we signed the very first industrial sector climate change MOU with the federal government. The MOU was to guide how federal GHG regulations would apply to our sector. Mike, as Committee Chair, played a key role in that accomplishment.

I could go on about Mike's contributions but he isn't the only sector employee that has been super dedicated to doing one's best and making his/her company and the entire sector better. I have met countless people like that from all areas of the forest products industry — from Newfoundland straight across to Vancouver Island. There are so many people in the industry that have a firm devotion to acting responsibly, protecting the forest and the environment, and working for a better tomorrow. In short, they love their job and enjoy going to work. With no disrespect to Mike, I was extremely pleased to present his Award, but part of me felt that we were in fact neglecting so many others that have gone unrecognized.

So, I would like to congratulate all my 230,000+ colleagues in Canada's forest products industry. Together, we are contributing to Canada's economic prosperity while sustaining our precious forest resources and ecosystem. I want to thank you for your belief in and dedication to doing the right thing. Don't get too upset about criticisms of where or how we operate. Yes, there is always room for improvement, but we are in the leadership group of the global industry and we should continue to be proud of our accomplishments!

To our readers, come join the fun. Visit www.thegreenestworkforce.ca for more details on how to work in the industry.

Source: President's Blog / The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC)


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