Displaying items by tag: Tolko

The prospect of a new job is exciting at the best of times, but the prospect of a new job that involves a major restart of a mill following 10-years of curtailment and of bringing a variety of attractive, well-paying jobs back to a community – well that was excitement on steroids. Tolko made the formal announcement on June 20, 2017, and there was an adrenaline rush I have only rarely experienced with a new job. It was go time.

From that moment, the days were a blur of recruitment activities, training plans, finding housing options for employees relocating, and making my transition into a new community. Much like the mill, I was starting from scratch, making connections, learning the “how to’s” from setting up utilities to getting a fishing license, and understanding the resources available.

Over the next four months, the mill was bustling; contractors and employees worked day and night to get the $60 million-dollar restart project off the ground and through to commissioning (a fancy word for a start-up). It was a big project, one that the Thorlakson family was committed to for sustainability purposes, and the community was thoroughly invested in because of the enormous economic benefit for families and business in High Prairie.

Working for Tolko proved to be a learning experience. This family-owned organization is impressive. Not only did they invest in the restart, but also the community. They built 2.5 million dollars’ worth of real estate, donated to causes such as the Children’s Resource Council, E.W. Pratt High School, and Indigenous Day, to name a few, and made frequent visits to get to know the staff and to see how things were going. The family still visits the mill, and it is a special moment to see Al Thorlakson walk right out onto the floor and greet former employees by name.

A short four months later, on November 17, 2017, we pressed our first board. Employees grabbed pieces of the strands for souvenirs, and the first board was set aside so that all employees and contractors that contributed could sign.

Now, two years later, I can look back and say this restart has been a success story and it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the members of Big Lakes County.  Thank you for believing in Tolko.  At the mill, we are excited for the future.


Written By Bronwyn Dunphy
HR Business Partner, Tolko Industries Ltd.

Published in Blog