Forest products manufacturer AbitibiBowater ups execs
AbitibiBowater announced it has promoted a series of new executives who will report to its president and chief executive officer, Richard Garneau, according to the company
This leadership transition includes a slew of senior management changes that will support the Montreal, Quebec-based company’s execution of its business strategy.
The following executives have been given new titles at AbitibiBowater:
- John Lafave was tapped as senior vice president of pulp and paper sales and marketing;
- Alain Boivin was upped to SVP of pulp and paper operations;
- William G. Harvey was appointed SVP and chief financial officer;
- Yves Laflamme was given the role of SVP of wood products, global supply chain and information technology;
- Alain Grandmont was upped to SVP of human resources and public affairs; and
- Jacques P. Vachon has been tapped as SVP and chief legal officer.
AbitibiBowater is a global leader in the forest products industry, producing a diverse range of products, including newsprint, commercial printing and packaging papers, market pulp and wood products.
In an interview with DailyVista, VP of Public Affairs, Sustainability and Environment Seth Kursman said that AbitibiBowater
emerged from bankruptcy protection in December 2010, and has since become a fundamentally different company as a result.
“We’re in a far more competitive position, and through the restructuring the company has been transformed, and now we’re one of the lowest-cost forest products companies in America,” he said.
Kursman’s position entails marketing responsibility, and as such, he’ll focus on marketing AbitibiBowater and its brand image moving forward. He also heads up the corporate communications, sustainability and government affairs functions as well.
“I will work closely and members of my team will work closely with John and other members of the executive team,” our source said. “One of our values going forward is about succeeding together, and if you want to do that, you work collaboratively and we’re going to do just that.”
As a completely transformed company, he said that AbitibiBowater has truly become one team with one vision. In fact, its new tagline is that “Profitability and Sustainability Drive Our Future,” a message that gets right to the point when marketing to consumers.
“If you were to compare us to the merger with Abitibi and Bowater, which brought the companies together before bankruptcy, they had debt of about $7 billion, and we’ve reduced it by 88 percent; eliminating $880 million in fixed costs,” Kursman said.
AbitibiBowater has significantly reduced its expenses through sales and administrative cuts, labor cost reductions and shedding its overall employee head count. Our source also boasted a very balanced portfolio of assets, with 38 percent of its business going to news print.
“We’re diverse and we’re going to be able to take advantage of growing export markets,” Kursman said. “Our mills are well positioned for that, and we market our product in more than 70 countries. We have a very big presence in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. It’s exciting and John Lafave certainly is the sales guy for the company, so we’ll be working a great deal with him.”
Because the company’s export market has matured considerably, AbitibiBowater is focused on continuing to take advantage of growing markets and opportunities to diversify within its core area of competencies, our source said.
“In terms of things we’ve done and the work we’ve done in terms of environmental practices, we’re well positioned as a company to be the environmental supplier of choice,” he added.
Becoming the official supplier involves quite a few strategic partnerships with nongovernmental organizations, and also entails a strict adherence to taking action. Kursman said that greenhouse gasses are a great example of how AbitibiBowater has walked the walk and talked the talk.
“If you go back and look at the emissions of greenhouse gasses in 2002, and you see the latest data, we’ve reduced it by over 70 percent in absolute terms and well over 40 percent on an intensity basis,” he said. “And that’s just one area. In terms of recycling, we’re one of the largest recyclers of newspapers and magazines in the world. We make many paper products with significant recycled products, so we’re very well positioned environmentally.”
In fact, AbitibiBowater offers a range of recycling programs, one of which is its paper retriever plan that’s available in more than 20 metropolitan cities in America.
“We have over 20,000 recycling containers on the ground in the U.S. It’s a significant piece of what we do,” Kursman said. “We think we do a pretty good job of ‘walking the talk,’ and now we have financially repositioned the company so we’re working off a much more stable platform. We look forward to 2011 and other years in the future to be prosperous and exciting for the company.”
Our source confirmed that Dallas, Texas-based The Richards Group handles media buying and planning efforts for AbitibiBowater’s recycling group, adding that he would be unable to comment on any other specific agency relationships.
The Nielsen Company reported that AbitibiBowater poured $200,000 into measured media in 2009. About $190,000 was spent on local newspaper ads, about $6,000 was put toward B-to-B efforts and about $3,000 was spent on Internet ads.
1155 rue Metcalfe
Montreal, QC H3B 5H2
Senior Vice President, Pulp & Paper Sales & Marketing
Senior Vice President, Pulp & Paper Operations
Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
(514) 875-2160 / x. 2240
Senior Vice President, Wood Products, Global Supply Chain & Information Technology