Richard Tremblay Discusses 2023 Pulp & Tissue Performance and 2024 Priorities

Richard Tremblay, Pulp & Tissue President at Resolute

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As Domtar, Resolute Forest Products and Paper Excellence continue integrating into one company within the Paper Excellence Group, our legacy businesses have restructured into three business units — Paper and Packaging, Pulp and Tissue and Wood Products.

The Pulp and Tissue business unit is led by Richard Tremblay. Read on to learn more about his priorities for our pulp and tissue business. You can also follow along with us on the Newsroom and on social media to find out more about the Wood Products business units and its leader, Hugues Simon, next month.

Pulp & Tissue President Richard Tremblay is an experienced executive with more than 35 years in the pulp and paper industry. He was born in La Tuque, Quebec, and graduated from the University of Sherbrooke. Prior to joining Resolute in 2011, he served as general manager of several mills at Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation beginning in 2002. He was named to his current role in February 2024, after serving in roles of increasing responsibility leading Resolute’s pulp, paper and tissue manufacturing operations for more than 13 years.

He recently spoke about aspects of the integration, pulp prospects in 2024 and efforts to serve customers well.

What is your message to employees about safety?

We are focused on creating and maintaining a safe workplace and holding everyone accountable for safety. Our goal is zero injuries at every location. This is an area where we will not compromise.

We know it is possible because we have seen it within our own network across several facilities. All our employees are highly engaged and committed to our business’ success, but the Menominee mill stands out as an example to follow. Earlier this year, the site surpassed 2.25 million hours without a recordable safety incident. That’s more than 11 years! It goes to show what is possible when everyone is fully engaged in an active and caring environment.

When faced with a potentially dangerous work environment, every employee must take every possible action to mitigate risks. Our people are empowered to raise any safety related questions or concerns at any time. If they feel they do not have the right training or tools to perform a job, they are instructed not to start it. No member of our leadership team will ever second-guess any employee for taking a safety precaution. We also have the right tools to support each employee in their individual assessment of their workplace safety. We communicate our expectations clearly and work directly with our teams to ensure they understand.

What are your objectives this year for the pulp and tissue business?

In pulp, pricing and sales volumes didn’t meet our expectations until the market started to turn favorable at the end of last year. So far we’re continuing to see favorable market conditions. When combined with this favorable trend, our efforts to welcome the Howe Sound, Meadow Lake and Skookumchuk mills into the legacy Resolute operating portfolio is positioning us very well for 2024. Our objective is to be the essential supplier to our target customers. We can achieve that by using our continuous improvement and Lean Six Sigma tools to evaluate how we can improve productivity and efficiency across our portfolio. Our continuing integration will also allow us to leverage our wider pool of expertise and resources to give our mills all the tools they need to maximize their potential.

After contending with demand decline and sacrificing operating time to balance order reductions in 2023, our paper mills are focused on continuing to look for opportunities to optimize their capabilities by transferring production of product grades to better meet customer needs. The teams are focused on putting the right products at the right locations to make the best use of our capabilities. It is all made possible by the flexibility within the system created by our combined breadth and scope.

The tissue business achieved some recovery and stability in 2023. We put in place a formal sales and operational planning process that has yielded significant improvements in shipping consistency and reliability. We also saw productivity improvements at each of the sites driven by improved operational practices and stable pulp supply. The business has solid foundation for the future. Now, we are focused growing it and improving its profitability. That means defining a path forward for each site through synergies and collaboration to ensure we produce the right products to meet our customers’ needs, at the right time to align with their demand. Doing so will also position ourselves to win new business with important long-term strategic customers.

What are your thoughts on the integration efforts thus far?

I’ve gone through integration processes a few times in my career. In my experience, the key to a successful integration is to always keep an open mind from the start and communicate. I think we’ve communicated well, which has enabled us to do an excellent job of integrating the three distinct and complex companies.

What kind of results has the integration yielded for the business?

I believe that the integration process has made the organization stronger for the future. All three legacy companies held leading positions in certain areas and are now sharing these best-in-class elements. In the long term, I’m convinced this will make the Paper Excellence Group more prosperous and most importantly, will offer more growth opportunities for our employees.