The birth of a sustainable vision

The story of Cascades is, at heart, a story about a family with deep human values, about proactive individuals guided by a forward-looking vision.

The Corporation was founded in 1964, during an era of Quebec history known as the Quiet Revolution.

Before even creating Cascades, the Lemaire family already knew a thing or two about green living. Although the concept of sustainable development was still a long way off, these Quebeckers shared a deep conviction: reusing, recovering and recycling were practices that could benefit the environment and society. Too many useful materials are thrown away—why not use old things to make new things!

Their vision took shape in Drummond Pulp & Fibre, a household and industrial waste recovery company that they founded in 1957.

 

 

1964 – Bernard Lemaire and his brother Laurent breathe new life into a disused Dominion Paper Co. mill, launching a new business making paper from recycled fibres—the birth of Papier Cascades. The mill is based in Kingsey Falls, Québec.

The emergence of Cascades brings the local community together around a common goal: help the company prosper for the well-being of local families, many of whom are living in poverty. People mobilize, get together and support each other. This culture of caring and respect played a significant role in Cascades's success — after all, it’s in our DNA.

1967 – The Lemaire brothers are fully aware that they owe a debt of gratitude to the Cascaders, who share their ambitions as fervently. It only seems natural to reward these partners fairly. They establish the profit-sharing program, redistributing a portion of the profits to all employees.

In that same year, Alain Lemaire officially joins his older brothers Bernard and Laurent at the company.

 
  “Nothing is lost and nothing is created: everything is transformed,” Antonio Lemaire used to tell his sons. These recycling pioneers are more convinced than ever that sustainable management of resources has financial, social and environmental benefits.

1969 – The Corporation celebrates its fifth anniversary and is already on a roll. Sales of $368,416 in 1964 have almost tripled to $964,797. The number of Cascaders has increased from 12 to 43.

The Kingsey Falls community honours Cascades for its important contribution to the area’s economy.

 
 

Antonio Lemaire tested the first recipes for Cascades' recycled paper in the family blender!

The decade’s new acquisitions and units
(as they are known today):

1964 – Norampac – Kingsey Falls
1964 – Cascades Transport

The Seventies: Expanding Our Know-How

During the 1970s, Cascades launched its first wave of expansion in Québec. The company’s activities expanded into moulded pulp, plastics, corrugated cardboard, containerboard and tissue paper. The founders stayed true to their vision, ensuring that the maximum amount of recycled materials was used in their products.

 

 

1971 – The company  innovates by creating Cascades Forma-Pak, the first plant to produce moulded pulp made from 100% recycled fibres.

1974 – Ten years passed since the foundation of Cascades, and the company now has 165 employees and generates $7.2 million in revenue.

1976 – The Lemaire brothers “export” their know-how outside Kingsey Falls for the first time with the construction of the Papier Cascades containerboard mill in Cabano, Quebec.

1977 – Tissue paper production begins with the construction of a new plant in Kingsey Falls to produce paper towels, bathroom tissue and industrial paper, all made from recycled fibre.

1979 – Bernard and Laurent Lemaire welcome René Lévesque, the Premier of Québec, to the Cascades Forma-Pak mill.


In 1972, Bernard Lemaire and a dozen workers travel to Hackensack, New Jersey, to take possession of an impressive new paper machine. They have to remove the machine themselves, and Mother Nature gets involved: a dam bursts under the weight of pent-up water, and each day the rising tide swamps the machine. The workers have to change plans, waiting for the tide to recede in order to continue working! At the end of this intense exercise in careful timing, 65 truckloads of parts finally leave New Jersey. The machine will be assembled again in Quebec, at the Cascades Papier Kingsey Falls mill.


 


The decade’s new acquisitions and units

(as they are known today):

1971 – Cascades Forma-Pak
1972 – Cascades Papier Kingsey Falls
1972 – Plastiques Cascades
1974 – Norampac – Victoriaville
1976 – Norampac – Cabano
1977 – Cascades Groupe Tissu – Kingsey Falls
1978 – Cascades Conversion inc.

 






 

The Eighties: The world becomes our playing field

Cascades has wind in its sails. The company has mastered the art of acquiring ailing paper mills and equipment and turning them around. The 1980s are eventful for Cascades, as it enters the United States and Europe, becomes a publicly traded company, and pushes the limits of innovation with the creation of the Research and Development Centre. Driven by daring and strength, the Corporation experiences a period of uninterrupted growth.

 

 

 

1983 – A critically important year in the history of Cascades. The Lemaire brothers sell 20% of the company in an initial public offering and float it on the Montreal Exchange. Cascades becomes one of the first organizations to participate in the Stock Savings Plan (SSP) launched by the Québec government. They get an immediate reaction from the market: it is a success.

For the first time, Cascades leaves the borders of its home country, opening the door to the United States with the inauguration of a tissue paper manufacturing plant in Rockingham, North Carolina. 

 
 

1985 – Always in search of innovations, the Lemaire brothers give themselves the means to achieve their ambitions by creating the Cascades Research and Development Centre. This unit will become the largest private centre for pulp and paper research and development in Canada.


Cascades crosses the Atlantic Ocean to set up shop in Europe. The Lemaire brothers’ company acquires a plant in La Rochette, France.

 
1986 – The creation of Cascades S.A. and its listing on the Paris Bourse boosts the company’s expansion into other parts of Europe, paving the way for a series of acquisitions in France, Sweden and Belgium.

Meanwhile in North America, more than half of the company’s employees become Cascades shareholders.

 
 

1989 – Cascades celebrates its 25th birthday with a positive assessment of its achievements: the company has established itself firmly in the industry by developing its expertise, diversifying its activities and, most importantly, respecting the environment and its human resources. Cascades’s forward-looking management style, based on respect, openness and participation, continues to pay dividends.


Not only was the factory opened in 1983 in Rockingham the first Cascades operation in the United States, it was the first to be equipped with a brand new machine! However, one detail made installation a lot more difficult than expected: the device, which was designed and manufactured in Quebec, featured an instruction manual in French only. There were very few bilingual Cascaders among the Quebeckers and Americans working on the installation, but they all had a good sense of humour about it, gesticulating and drawing diagrams to help each other understand. The machine and plant ended up working just fine.




The decade’s new acquisitions and units
(as they are known today):

1982 – Cascades Services et Achats
1982 – Cascades Inopak
1983 – Cascades Boxboard Group – East Angus
1983 – Cascades East Angus
1983 – Cascades Tissue Group – Rockingham
1984 – Cascades Boxboard Group – Jonquière
1985 – Cascades S.A.S. , Division La Rochette
1985 – Cascades Fine Papers Group, Breakey Fibres
1985 – Research and Development Centre
1986 – Cascades Moulded Pulp, Inc.
1986 – Cascades Lupel
1989 – Plastiques Cascades - Re-Plast
1989 – Cascades Djupafors A.B.

 


 

 


 

 

 

The Nineties: Diversification, affirming our colors

A new decade begins, markets are exploding: Competition is global. Cascades continues to vigorously explore acquisition and strategic investment opportunities in the industry. It acquires a string of new units that will fundamentally change its makeup through increased diversification. Cascades embraces this new direction with the same objective that has driven it since the beginning: to maximize the efficient use of natural resources and protect the environment.

 

 

1992 – Bernard Lemaire passes the presidency to his brother, Laurent.

With new president Laurent Lemaire at the helm, the company focuses its efforts on quality, productivity and cost efficiency within each of its units. For the first time, Cascades exceeds one billion dollars in revenue.

Cascades stays true to its far-sighted vision, which has guided the company from the beginning: “The successful company of tomorrow will have to be flexible, productive, innovative and profitable. To do this, it will have to establish a decentralized structure with very little hierarchy, where employees work in a human-scale environment within autonomous, independent teams.”

This year is one of the most significant for Cascades in terms of acquisitions. The company purchases Rolland Inc., its first manufacturing facility specializing in fine papers. Cascades also acquires Paperboard Industries Corporation, making it a major global player in the production of boxboard for folding cartons.

1993 – Cascades’s sectorial and geographic diversification leads to the consolidation of its activities into autonomous groups positioned in well-defined markets: boxboard, fine paper, containerboard, hygiene products, packaging products and other sectors. Recycled fibres continue to make up the majority of Cascades’s 400 products.

1995 – Cascades had been exploring the energy sector since 1990 and demonstrates its ambition to enter this market with the acquisition of Boralex, a company recognized for its expertise in four types of energy— wind, hydroelectric, thermal and solar. Cascades currently owns an approximately 20% interest in Boralex.

In the same year, Cascades acquires Perkins Papers, solidifying its position as a leading North American manufacturer of tissue papers.

1997 – Cascades and Domtar lead a movement towards consolidation in the North American containerboard industry, merging their operations in the sector to form Norampac Inc.

The time has come for Cascades to assert its business philosophy and clearly define the company’s unwritten values: respect, autonomy, teamwork, adaptability, communication and initiative. This culture, which had already been dubbed the “Cascades philosophy,” is put to paper for the first time.

 

The decade’s new acquisitions and units
(as they are known today):

1991 – Norampac – Newfoundland
1992 – Norampac – Drummondville
1992 – Norampac – Vaudreuil
1992 – Cascades Fine Papers Group, Rolland Division
1992 – Cascades Boxboard Group – Mississauga
1992 – Cascades Multi-Pro
1992 – Cascades Sonoco Inc., Birmingham
1994 – Converdis inc.
1994 – Cascades Transport
1995 – Cascades Enviropac
1995 – Cascades Tissue Group – Candiac
1995 – Cascades Tissue Group – Laval
1995 – Cascades Tissue Group – Lachute
1997 – Norampac
1997 – Centre de développement des compétences Alain-Lemaire
1997 – Cascades GIE Inc.
1997 – Cascades Sonoco – Tacoma 
1998 – Cascades Fine Papers Group, Transformation Centre
1998 – Cascades Auburn Fiber
1999 – Cascades Plastics
1999 – Cascades CIP

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2000s: Innovation through cooperation

It is an era of consolidation in the industry, and the competition is fierce. As the Canadian dollar climbs to new heights, it is matched by the price of fibre and energy. Cascades is determined to strengthen its position in these most promising sectors: packaging and tissue paper. The strategy is successful, but it requires a major restructuring plan that leads to several plant closures. Cascades continues to distinguish itself with ever more environmentally friendly and innovative products.

 

 

2001 – Cascades expands its presence in the tissue paper sector with a new wave of US acquisitions in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. This momentum continues until 2004, with acquisitions in New York, Oregon, Arizona and Tennessee.

2003 – After succeeding Bernard Lemaire as Cascades president in 1992, Laurent Lemaire passes the torch to his brother, Alain.

2004 – Cascades and its 15,000 employees in six countries celebrate the company’s 40th birthday.

2006 – This year and the next two will be marked by the consolidation of Cascades' dominant position in the packaging industry. The company buys out Domtar’s interest in Norampac, becoming the venture’s sole owner. This strategy is solidified through the acquisition of several ultra-modern corrugated cardboard mills over the course of the decade.

2008 – In Europe, Cascades solidifies its position by merging its boxboard operations with Italian giant Reno De Medici, S.p.A.

In that same year, Cascades’s North American boxboard operations are integrated with Norampac's containerboard operations. This strategy creates synergies and encourages technology sharing, resulting in a packaging group with more strength and flexibility to meet the needs of customers.

 

The decade's new acquisitions and units
(as they are known today):

2000 – Cascades Rollpack SAS (Saulcy-sur-Meurthe and Châtenois, France)
2000 – Cascades Tissue Group – IFC Disposables Inc.
2001 – Cascades Tissue Group – Pennsylvania - Pittston
2001 – Cascades Tissue Group – Wisconsin
2001 – Cascades Boxboard Group – Winnipeg
2001 – Norampac New York City
2002 – Cascades Tissue Group – New York Inc. (Mechanicville and Waterford)
2002 – Cascades Tissue Group – Oregon
2003 – Norampac Schenectady
2004 – Cascades Boxboard Group – Cobourg
2004 – Norampac Industries Inc., Lancaster Division
2004 – Norampac New England – Thompson 
2004 – Cascades Tissue Group – Arizona
2004 – Cascades Tissue Group – Tennessee
2004 – Centre de la technologie de l’information Laurent-Lemaire
2005 – Norampac – Belleville
2005 – Norampac – Viau
2007 – Cascades Enviropac Grand Rapids
2009 – Cascades Tissue Group – Toronto MAP
2009 – Cascades Tissue Group – Toronto

 

The 2010s: Building the future, together

Cascades enters the new decade determined to consolidate its position as a productivity and profitability leader in the packaging and tissue paper sectors. The company’s willingness to push the boundaries of innovation and sustainable development remains strong. Cascades’ commitment to the core values that have always been the source of its strength is unwavering.

2011 – Mario Plourde is appointed Chief Operating Officer, enabling Alain Lemaire, President and Chief Executive Officer, to devote more time to the strategic vision of the Corporation.

Cascades breaks ground on one of the most important projects in its history: the construction of the Greenpac Mill, LLC (Greenpac) facility in Niagara Falls, New York. This mill will specialize in cutting-edge linerboard manufacturing, the only project of its kind in North America. Greenpac is the result of close collaboration between Norampac and several partners.

 

2013 – Cascades prepares to celebrate its 50th birthday in 2014.

 

At the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, Alain Lemaire officially passed on the torch to Mario Plourde, who became the fourth President and Chief Executive Officer of Cascades. He promised to continue to build on the values and strengths that have earned the company its excellent reputation and have become a great source of pride for employees.

2014 – By modernizing its assets and focusing its activities in the promising market sectors of packaging and tissue paper, Cascades takes concrete action to ensure the future of the Company. In this perspective, Cascades sells its North American fine papers, kraft paper and boxboard operations. The Company’s desire to remain a leader triggers a thorough review of its business processes with a view to standardizing and optimizing them, while remaining true to its values. Cascades makes every effort to improve its position, its profitability and its customer service.

Across North America and Europe, Cascaders and their communities celebrate the Company’s 50th anniversary. Cascades’ shareholders, customers and other partners also mark the historic milestone. Thanks to the participation of all of its stakeholders, the Company’s half-century of success is celebrated throughout the year with parties, special activities, exhibitions, shows, tributes and cupcakes, which are enjoyed by the extended Cascades family. In Kingsey Falls, the birthplace of Cascades, numerous events and elaborate celebrations are organized. The emotional festivities close a chapter in the history of Cascades, and open the door to a promising future.

The decade’s new acquisitions and units
(as they are known today):

2011 – Cascades Tissue Group – Papersource
2011 – Cascades Enviropac Aurora
2011 – Norcan Flexible Packaging Inc.
2011 – Greenpac Mill, LLC
2012 – Norampac – Bird
2014 – Cascades Tissue Group – Wagram

 

 

To learn more about Cascades' history, please visit our Facebook page or check out our history infographic.

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