Catalyst’s boss Kevin Clarke steps down after restructuring Crofton mill

North Cowichan mayor satisfied with stability of municipality's largest taxpayer after three years of fiscal care under Clarke

Crofton pulp-and-paper mill owner Catalyst is losing CEO Kevin Clarke

Crofton pulp-and-paper mill owner Catalyst is losing CEO Kevin Clarke

Helping rescue the Crofton mill from the financial brink is one feather in Catalyst boss Kevin Clarke’s cap as he plans to step down in June.

While Catalyst brass looks for his replacement, North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure was happy with Clarke’s straightforward style — and the future of the municipality’s biggest taxpayer that adds more than $3 million to it coffers annually.

“I suspect he was brought in to manage Catalyst at a very tough time in its existence.

“I suspect some of the crisis-management role is over, but they’re not out of the woods, and they’re still in an incredibly competitive environment,” he said Friday after Catalyst announced Clarke’s departure.

Lefebure praised Catalyst’s hard work to weather credit protection under Clarke, as the company struggles to swap markets.

“Newsprint and directory paper are a shrinking market, so they’re working hard at getting a larger share of that shrinking market.”They also recognize that shrinking market isn’t viable on a longer-term basis for their industry so they’re looking at new products to move to,” Lefebure said, saluting Clarke.

“He was very down to earth — what you saw is what you got. There were no games played. He didn’t try to and bully us or sweet talk us.”

Catalyst chairman Les Lederer was chuffed how CEO Clarke helmed the firm through “three pivotal years.”

“Under his leadership, the company intensified its focus on stakeholder relationships, which culminated in the rapid completion of a reorganization plan that significantly improved Catalyst’s balance sheet and cost structure.”

Clarke continues in his role through June, assisting a smooth transition.

He plans to return to his home in New York State, where his family resides, Catalyst’s release says.