Catalyst President and C.E.O. Kevin Clarke listens to an audience member during a gathering of Chemainus & District Chamber of Commerce members and invited guests Monday at the Crofton Community Centre.

Catalyst president talks about job openings and company innovation on public relations tour

Surviving the times: Kevin Clarke feels restructuring created better positioning to deal with market fluctuations

Restructured Catalyst Paper wants to convey the message it’s changing with the times and an abundance of jobs are going to be available in the next few years due to retirements.

Catalyst president and C.E.O. Kevin Clarke spoke to a gathering of Chemainus and District Chamber of Commerce members and invited guests Monday at the Crofton Community Centre, painting a rosy future picture for the company since it emerged from bankruptcy proceedings last September.

“On a yearly basis, we’re going to come out and make sure we’re communicating to all of our stakeholders in the various communities,” said Clarke, who was joined by Crofton division general manager Robert Belanger.

“These are great opportunities for me to hear business people or retirees.”

A lot of people supported Catalyst’s restructuring, Clarke said, and he’s hopeful of a far more positive 2013 than 2012.

When Catalyst completed bankruptcy proceedings Sept. 13, it became “the largest Canadian company to come in and out,” Clarke said. “I would have preferred not going in.”

But the experience of easing the debt load and selling off assets has left Catalyst in a much better position within world markets.

“It gives us a strength and ability to withstand those fluctuations in the marketplace,” Clarke said.

“One of the things big companies don’t do well is change and adapt. When you don’t change and adapt, you don’t survive. I can tell you we’re changing at light speed.”

One of the things Catalyst has done is introduce new product lines such as Marathon Life, a newsprint grade that supports the Latin American market.

It’s 17 % lighter, Clarke said.

“It has the same print holdout. It’s primarily for newsprint.”

Clarke said eight or nine new products have been introduced by Catalyst in the last seven years. “If we hadn’t, I wouldn’t be in this room today,” he emphasized.

Along those lines, Catalyst is stepping up its campaign to let educators know of the opportunities that are going to exist in the company so students can start preparing now to filter into some of those jobs.

Clarke planned to meet with educators in the region during his tour to the island to help spread the news about getting people to funnel from starting jobs up to engineers and scientists who will be in high demand in the industry.

He said 81 people were hired at Crofton last year and “there’ll be additional hiring this year.”

Company-wide, “in the next five years, we’re going to lose 50 to 60 % of our employees to retirement,” said Clarke.

“The amount of skill shortage is huge, probably one million people short over the next five years in Canada. That’s an issue we’re working with the federal government on.”

Catalyst’s public relations campaign includes organizing a day for Chamber of Commerce members and business people to tour the mill.

“We’ll try to get that scheduled and get people through the mill,” said Clarke.

A public open house is also being considered.

An inevitable topic that arose during question period was the Cowichan watershed issue and Catalyst’s operation of the weir.

“We’ll continue to very robustly support that,” said Clarke. “We’ll continue to put every resource necessary in there.”

There are already concerns about lower water levels matching last year.

“We’re watching it very carefully,” Belanger said, to see “if we have to make a decision to operate the weir early.”

Meanwhile, Belanger continues to do double duty as GM for both the Crofton and Port Alberni mills. Once a new manager is hired for Alberni and has spent a bit of time there, Belanger will return to Crofton on a fulltime basis.

Just Posted

Premier makes surprise visit to Ladysmith Art Gallery

John Horgan does an informal meet and greet with Ladysmith arts and community leaders

Memorable weekend of hockey and camaraderie in Chemainus, Duncan

Many aspects of memorial tournament tug at the heartstrings

Premier on hand as Paper Excellence finalizes Catalyst Paper purchase

Sale includes Crofton mill, plus mills in Port Alberni and Powell River

High temperatures in Ladysmith break century-old records

Maximum high Sunday at the airport edged out a temperature record that had stood since 1892

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Cougar on Island might have been shot with bow-and-arrow

Conservation officer service looking for animal near Port Alice

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Chrysler receives coaching award

Albin & Georgina Falt Memorial plaque honours a long run by the face of Ceevacs

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Most Read