The Pulp and Paper Industry just gained an advocate for teamwork, naming Jacques Beauchemin as President and CEO of AFT. In his previous position as CFO, Jacques was instrumental in helping to acquire two of AFT’s largest innovations with Finebar and POM. He has built a reputation for fostering teamwork within the organization, travelling regularly to AFT’s five manufacturing sites and promoting global collaboration.
Says Jacques: “My focus is to strengthen our teams, built around core capabilities. Each person in our company has the support to grow and continuously improve; together we have a strong workforce. We are doing more to understand our customer’s needs and bring opportunities for personal growth to our employees. We want big picture thinkers who understand customer processes, good collaborators, and individuals who can multi-task. That’s the essence of a great team.
One recent example for key change has been to unify our global project management and service teams. This change presents a single face to our customers and strengthens our internal collaboration. It is at times a challenge to stay locally focused while being globally collaborative within the organization; my past leadership with our global information technology team will help. Our support needs to be at the same high level for customers located around the world."
Following is an interview with Jacques as he steps in to lead AFT.
Tell us a little bit about what prepared you for this position?
I’ve been involved with AFT’s growth for the past 13 years. We are not a big company where the financial organization works independently. My role has been, sleeves rolled up, successfully helping to integrate and improve our acquisitions such as POM and Finebar. Financially both of these products needed serious improvement when we brought them to AFT - but our technology team saw advantages for our customers. Our operations people had many great ideas on how to make manufacturing lean and reduce costs, after some significant investments naturally. My experience prior to AFT helped provide leadership in considering which investment made the most sense and how we would get to the final goal, where both AFT and our customers saw a tangible payback. My strongest lesson as CFO has been that it takes a win-win for both AFT and our customers for growth to continue.
When I joined AFT, it seemed to operate like multiple independent companies. My predecessor, Michael Stephens, had a vision of unifying and leveraging the experiences of our many global entities and remote application people. That vision had me travelling to each of our manufacturing hubs several times a year, sharing manufacturing projects and returns globally in our ISO certified facilities. Along the way I have had the opportunity to meet with many customers and listen to how they are growing and understanding how they build profitability.
What do you consider your greatest personal asset for AFT customers and employees?
I grew up in Canada and at an early age learned that people see thing differently. My mother taught me to listen to people and understand first. Also being from Canada we love hockey, I still try to play when I am in town. You may catch me on my rollerblade skates in Europe or China trips. But, hockey taught me the importance of a team. What I hope to strengthen even further is our global teamwork.
How will manufacturing change at AFT?
Our manufacturing centers are strategically located among our customers, so no new locations are planned. As technology is always advancing, we focus on investments in our facilities and sharing best practices. China and India are target areas for ramping up. We take sustainability seriously and are working to have key metrics globally. We will do this by expanding our ISO certifications into environmental, safety and sustainability metrics.
What about Product Development?
We leave the fundamental research to our university partners and labs. We will continue to sponsor studies in fluid mechanics, screening, refining and associated fiber preparation methods. Where AFT brings strength is on the development side - how to connect theoretical knowledge to life in engineered components and new designs. We are fortunate to have our Japan pilot facility for testing before we do live pilot trials jointly with customers. Then we boil it all down into our SimAudit simulation tool to predict mill operations and reduce risks. As you may guess I am big on ROI and risk analysis! I am always asking what is the customer’s return, what is our return - is it a win-win?
AFT is a global supplier specializing in stock preparation, screening, refining and paper machine approach flow. With over 110 years of experience in manufacturing and supplying tailored solutions, AFT helps to improve performance with trademarked advancements: Finebar - ultra low intensity refining, Powerwave - energy efficient screening, MaxiPulper - advanced pulping technologies, POM Systems and more. For more information, please contact us at Marketing@aft-global.com.