Gavin Baxter & PACWEST: A Long History

Gavin Baxter, Co-Chair of PACWEST Conference 2023 and General Manager of Skookumchuck Pulp Inc. took a few moments to explain why this convention is so important to him.

I’ve been involved in PACWEST off and on for decades. It’s a really great conference for young engineers or those new to the industry because there are three distinct and complementary benefits.

First are the Technical Sessions, which are the core of the conference. They provide an opportunity for delegates to explain an idea or project that they implemented at their mill. Paper Excellence has people presenting at two sessions this year:

  • 4B.2 Effective talc free production of Northern Bleached Softwood Kraft pulp
    Author/Presenters: Henok GebremariamSkookumchuk Pulp & Brad Liesch – Dubois Chemicals
  • 4B.5 Transformation of a Traditional Printing & Writing Paper Business to Specialty Papers
    Author/Presenter: Jouni Martiskainen, New Product Development Director – Paper Excellence

Second, there are excellent networking opportunities. Mills can often be very self-contained places. PACWEST offers a chance to meet people from other mills and hear about what they are doing. You can build the network of contacts and help each other out when needed—my PACWEST networks have been invaluable to me over the years. These days we don’t have as much experience in the mills as we used to so these networks are even more important. I know we’re competitors; but from a global perspective, if we can help each other, it’s a good thing and it supports the industry as a whole. This year we’re back in-person for the first time since 2019 so the networking will be particularly strong this year.

With networking in mind, Scott Curry, Director of Engineering, is co-chairing the Wednesday Engineering Managers Roundtable, with input from Stuart Nash, EGBC Manager, Individual Audits and Practice Reviews, and is also presenting on Thursday’s session about the EGBC’s Professional Practice Management Plan (PPMP) with Phil Chan, EGBC Trainer/Auditor, Regulation of Firms.

Third, the Senior Executives Forum Panel gives delegates an understanding of where the industry is going as a whole and it can include some impressive speakers. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests Forum Panel participant along with our own Davis Chiu, Director of Innovation and Acting Head of Carbon Strategy are speaking on the Panel. This year, Premier David Eby is our keynote speaker which is very exciting.

Finally, this is my fourth and final year, wrapping up my planning committee term with PACWEST. However, Paper Excellence will continue to be a part of the PACWEST planning committee as I’m pleased to say that Steve Bird, a Paper Excellence employee at our Catalyst Crofton mill, has just joined the PACWEST planning committee. So in four years’ time, he’ll be Co-Chair.