Alberni CEP ‘hopeful’ about new Catalyst man

Alberni CEP union officials gave a tentative head nod to new incoming Catalyst CEO and president Joe Nemeth.

Catalyst has a new man at the helm. Vancouver Island raised Joe Nemeth was named president and CEO last week. He was in town to tour the Alberni facility and chew the fat with local CEP officials.

If first impressions count for anything then officials with CEP Local 592 look forward to working with Catalyst’s new man.

New Catalyst Paper Corp. CEO Joe Nemeth rolled through Port Alberni last week to see the new operation, meet civic leaders and have a sit-down with local union members.

“We only met him briefly when he was here. It was more of an initial meeting and introduction,” CEP 592 president Jim Van Dusen said. “We do look forward to more in-depth talks later though.”

Catalyst’s board of directors hired Nemeth as their new president and chief executive officer, but the he doesn’t take the helm until Oct. 1.

People see the mill structure and see the products they make, but it’s the people who make the mill work that left the biggest impression on Nemeth.

“They really know what they are doing. They want to see it succeed. There are good people here and they care,” Nemeth said.

The lanky president walks with a gait that denotes comfort in a mill; Nemeth seems more comfortable wearing a pair of safety boots. And he’s no stranger to the Island.

Nemeth makes his home in Langley, but was born in Victoria where he grew up playing soccer.

His resumé includes a B.Sc in Forestry from the University of British Columbia, and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario.

But Nemeth isn’t just a man in a suit. He’s worked in the forest industry for more than 30 years. He’s worked in the woods, in Youbou at a mill, then in sales and marketing before becoming manager of the former Elk Falls mill in Campbell River.

“I’ve worked in the industry from cradle to grave,” he said.

All those things have credibility with the local CEP, which has 175 members working at the Alberni mill. “He’s personable and from the Island and we consider that a good thing,” VanDusen said.

The foundation is eroding in the traditional paper market, but where others see decline Nemeth sees transformation. He wants to explore opportunities in non-traditional paper markets, he said, as well as look at taking advantage of biofuel production.

The Alberni operation can be successful, and Nemeth said he has a three-pronged plan to make it so. The plan includes operational excellence, like cost efficiency and safety; margin improvement through  better quality and more efficient paper production; and strategic options, like biofuel energy.

“We asked about his plan and he talked briefly about it with us. He has a good vision so we’re hopeful,” Van Dusen said.

Nemeth may be an Islander, personable and a man with a plan, but he’s a company man who’s coming in when the company is hard hit.

Catalyst’s website notes that it posted a $28-million net deficit on $263.4 million in pulp and paper sales.

With the initial meeting over, union officials say that more substantive talks lay down the road. “We didn’t raise any concerns with him at this time. But we look forward to more in-depth talks with him later,” Van Dusen said.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

Just Posted

Alberni businesses nominated for Island excellence

Coulson Ice Blast, Port Posh Wash, the Blue Marlin Inn and Totem… Continue reading

BCHL: Speedy left winger commits to Bulldogs

Forward Ethan Jang will be suiting up for the 2018-19 season

Rollin Art Centre open now

Make sure to renew your Community Arts Council membership

BCHL: Bulldogs take the ice after trade deadline

Alberni team picked up one loss, one win with new roster

Alberni’s Warren Lee earns second black belt

Lee is one of four Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belts in Canada

WATCH: Giant waves smash Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point

Folks made their way to Ucluelet’s Amphitrite Point Lighthouse on Thursday, Jan.… Continue reading

WestJet appeals lost bid to scrap harassment lawsuit

Airline argues judge was wrong to have dismissed the company’s application to strike the legal action

Can U.S. border guards search your phone? Yes, and here’s how

Secretary of homeland security explains a new policy that let’s border guards check phones

‘Beautiful writer’ Nancy Richler dies of cancer in Vancouver hospital

Montreal-born author spent most of her adult life in B.C. as a fiction writer and novelist

Jury convicts spear-wielding Duncan man in 2015 Ladysmith RV park murder

Trever George Meers used a handmade spear to stab Rayna Johnson at the Campers Corners RV Park

Students frustrated by UBCO response to harassment allegations

Students on the Kelowna campus were unaware of resources and worried about lack of communication

Opinion: Dare to be smarter

Just say no works for more than just substance abuse

‘Sing Me a Song’ about B.C. for a chance at $1,000 contest prize

Entries due by March 30 for lieutenant-governor’s British Columbia-themed competition

Facing reality of death, B.C. man learns real meaning of life

Even while preparing for the end, something inside Keven Drews won’t let him stop living

Most Read