It’s been 16 days since International Paper took over ownership of the old Weyerhaeuser pulp mill, and the transition period is expected to take a significant amount of time. The changeover will be different from most, as mill manager Michael Morgan explains that Weyerhaeuser is not providing support after the deal closed.
“We’re all on our own trying to connect to the International Paper system, so that’s probably the biggest thing right now, and then of course over the next year understanding how International Paper does business differently.”
Morgan says every Weyerhaeuser employee on the mill side was offered a job with the new company, and almost all accepted. International Paper reportedly doesn’t plan to transport in a large amount of workers to Grande Prairie or to downsize.
“It’s as likely to result in additional jobs as job reductions,” says Morgan. “It’s early to say if there’s any impact, and when International Paper did their assessment and benchmarked us against their facilities, there was nothing that stood out as saying there needed to be a big change.”
Now that its Grande Prairie’s newest neighbour, International Paper plans to play a big role in the community. As a new employee, Morgan says he’s already heard about $15.5 million given back in 2015.
“That’s a lot of community support. In my few interactions that I’ve had, it has been emphasized over and over that International Paper believes in supporting the communities that we live and work in.”
The sale of the plant went through on December 1st, but Weyerhaeuser remains in the community. It has kept on its sawmill and timber lands operations in the region. Grande Prairie is International Paper’s only location in Canada.