Spotlight: Stéphane Dagenais of Domtar

PrintAction Staff
July 16, 2018
By PrintAction Staff
Domtar has been present in the Canadian pulp-and-paper market for more than 150 years, producing such iconic brands as Windsor Offset, Plainfield Opaque, Cornwall Coated Card, and Luna Coated and in more recent years Cougar, Lynx, Husky and EarthChoice.

Today, Domtar is the largest producer of uncoated paper in North America, operating 13 pulp-and-paper mills. Four of these mills are located in Canada, including operations in Kamloops, BC, Espanola and Dryden in Ontario, and in Windsor, Quebec. Domtar employs almost 9,000 people in North America, 2,000 in Canada and approximately 1,200 of these Canadian jobs are in the Province of Quebec. PrintAction asked Stéphane Dagenais, Domtar’s Region Manager for printing and publishing papers in Canada, what makes the company unique.


Where does Domtar stand in terms of its pulp manufacturing capabilities?
SD: Several varieties of pulp are made in the Domtar mills and can be used in products as varied as copy and printing papers, specialty packaging papers, toilet tissue and disposable diapers. About 1.8 million tonnes are sold on the open market.

How did Domtar build its strong position in uncoated freesheet?
SD: Domtar has maintained continuity in our market presence over the years...In addition to our manufacturing presence, Domtar keeps inventory in a unique network of Regional Distribution Centres to make sure printers have rapid access to their Domtar paper through the merchant of their choice. The Canadian market is serviced by four [centres] in Seattle, Winnipeg, Mississauga and Richmond, Quebec.

As an environmental paper pioneer, what is Domtar doing to push this agenda?
SD: Domtar continues to work with ENGOs like Rainforest Alliance and World Wildlife Fund to think creatively and keep forests, forest. You can’t make a notable difference in a vacuum, but collectively we can tackle important issues like the lack of certified fibre in some of our fibre basket regions. We have created small landowner workshops highlighting the importance of certified fibre throughout the supply chain.


Related: Domtar has met or exceeded three of its six 2020 sustainability goals this year, according to 2018 Sustainability Update report


How important is packaging to Domtar?
SD:
The packaging market is a growing segment of the industry. In 2017, the specialty papers and packaging segment represented 17 percent of Domtar’s paper shipments. These grades of papers require a certain amount of innovation and agility in the manufacturing system, which is in direct alignment with Domtar’s core values.

What newer capital investment initiatives are underway at Domtar?
SD:
Our flexible assets allow us to balance our supply with customer demand and an announcement of further capital investment is expected in 2018. We are also investing in R&D in fields as varied as Biofuels or Green Energy Generation. We remain committed to paper, however – as a percentage of business, we are by far more focused on paper, compared to our competitors.

How is Domtar working with printers? 
SD:
It is our mission to be a resource to the commercial print community...As print technology continues to evolve, our partnerships with OEMs remains more important than ever. Our goal is to develop papers that will be market ready when new technologies are launched. This product innovation could be new weights and sheet sizes or special treatments to meet the new innovations in ink and printer capabilities.

What print markets are gaining traction? 
SD:
As the market trend continues to shift toward extreme personalization and variable data, the growth of digital and inkjet printing will continue. High-speed Inkjet is growing rapidly and appears to be the print technology of the future. Because of the small population in Canada and the high acquisition costs of these types of equipment, the growth rate will be a lot slower in Canada than in the USA...Of course anything to do with packaging is a growth opportunity. The increase in online shopping impacts the need for shipping materials and requires a lot of components that can be fibre-based.

Why is print still a critical part of the communications world?
SD:
The studies are clear. The brain learns and retains better from reading on paper over a screen. If this is true for educators it is certainly also true for marketers. The physicality and tactile side of print will always be attractive. This trend will only grow as companies continue to differentiate themselves in their respective markets...New print technologies and data analytics allow a level of personalization in print like never before. Personalization makes people feel special and we now have all the tools in hand to make this experience even more targeted and intimate.

This Q&A was originally published in the June 2018 issue of PrintAction, now available online.

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