Long before the expression "sustainable development" became a buzzword, the Lemaire family's means of livelihood was recycling, thanks to the Drummond Pulp & Fibre company involved in the recovery of household and industrial waste, which they founded in 1957.
In 1964, Antonio Lemaire and his sons officially ventured into the production of paper made from recycled fibres when they took over a disaffected mill in Kingsey Falls,(Quebec), owned by the Dominion Paper Co.. Papier Cascades Inc. was born of that transaction.
In 1971, Cascades began its expansion in Kingsey Falls with the creation of Cascades Forma-Pak, its first moulded-pulp mill to use 100% recycled fibres. The event marked the beginning of a veritable paper-making corporation in a small town in the center of Québec from 1972 to 1977: the successive start-up of Papier Kingsey Falls (multi-layer board), Cascades Industries (tissue paper), Plastiques Cascades and Cascades Conversion.
In 1976, the Lemaire brothers "brought their skill and knowledge" outside Kingsey Falls for the first time with the start-up of the containerboard mill Papier Cascades in Cabano (Québec). This was the beginning of a great adventure that would bring Cascades all over the world.
1983 was an important milestone in the history of Cascades when its shares began trading on the Montreal Stock Exchange. That same year, its entry into the United States began with the start-up of Cascades Industries Inc. in Rockingham, North Carolina. In Québec, Cascades began producing kraft paper in East Angus and acquired a boxboard plant in Joncquière the following year.
In 1985, the company made its entry into Europe with the acquisition of a boxboard plant in La Rochette, France. This new expansion really took shape in 1986 with the creation of Cascades S.A. and the acquisition of another French boxboard mill in Blendecques. From 1987 to 1989, other mills located in Sweden and Belgium became part of the Cascades Group as well: Djupafors AB in Sweden and Kartonfabriek van Duffel NV in Belgium. The Belgian mill was renamed Cascades Duffel NV but ceased its production in 1993 after heavy losses and then was immediately transformed into a cutting center for the other European mills of the group. Declared definitively closed in the accounts of 1997, it was reconverted in 2002 by the ex-President of the Board of Cascades, Laurent Lemaire, to a so-called internal commercial agency, under the name with slightly modified orthography of Cascade Duffel NV, and having only one unit of establishment called Korton Fabrick van Ouffel, located at the exact address of the old mill Kartonfabriek van Duffel which was resold by Cascades to another company in 1998. This so-called agency (before different fiscal controles ...), without collaborator working in Belgium, was implied at the time of exports of cartonboard out of Europe, in particular those in transit by the port of Antwerp (according to Boards of directors of Cascades SA of June 28, 2002 and Nov 3, 2003). Since 2009, M. Stephane Thiollier and M. Vincent Lestringant (despite he died in... 2005) are not anymore Members of the Board of Cascades Duffel NV. Both have been replaced in May 2009 by M. Jean Goulet (General Manager of Cascades SAS / France) and by M. Zaki Haned (Investor Relations Manager at Reno De Medici). Another possible use of this "mill", still whithout any worker, is actually investigated but no decision has been officially taken at the date beginning of September 2011....
The 80's decade played out in a spirit of innovation with the creation of a Research and Development Center in 1985 in Kingsey Falls. This facility would become the largest private Canadian Research and Development Center in the pulp and paper industry.
On the eve of the nineties decade, Cascades became daring when it created Cascades Énergie. This subsidiary controlled a brand new cogeneration plant powered by natural gas, the first in Canada, and whose mandate was to provide the energy required by all the Cascades mills in Kingsey Falls. The success of this project enabled Cascades to invest further in the prospective energy sector with the acquisition of Boralex in 1995. Today, Boralex's shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange in which Cascades holds a 34 % interest.
Cascades Énergie paved the way for a series of acquisitions in which Cascades' activities were largely diversified. The purchase of Rolland and Paperboard Industries Corporation in 1992, Perkins Papers in 1995, Provincial Papers in 1997 and, that same year, the creation of Norampac in partnership with Domtar, led to the restructuring of Cascades into five distinct corporate groups whose operations were focused as much in the sector of specialized packaging as in those of containerboard, tissue paper, fine papers and boxboard.
On an international level, Cascades' expansion continued in Europe with the acquisition of the boxboard mill in Arnsberg (Germany) in 1997 and the start-up of a sheeting operation in Wednesbury (England) in 1998.
Upon entering the new millennium, the scope of the tissue paper sector grew in 2001 with the acquisition of the mills in Pennsylvania and in Wisconsin. Two years later, the group sustained its momentum and set up shop in Alberta, in New York, in Arizona, in Oregon and in Tennessee. In 2004, the boxboard sector stood out with the acquisition of Dopaco Inc., a leader in the packaging products sector destined for the quick service restaurant industry. Not to be left out, Norampac proceeded with the implementation, between 2001 and 2006, of several ultra-modern corrugated cardboard mills in Canada and in the United States.
In 2004, Cascades created in Europe four new companies in Luxembourg (Cascades Luxembourg Sarl, Norampac Luxembourg Sarl, Cascades Hungary Ltd Luxembourg Branch and Norampac Ltd Luxembourg Branch) and beginning of 2010 Cascades Canada Inc Luxembourg Branch, what with Cascade(s) Duffel NV in Belgium and Pulp & Paper Cascades BV in the Netherlands, carries to six the number of companies still in service in 2011 into the Benelux (Norampac Luxembourg Sarl was closed in September 2008 by incorporation into Cascades Luxembourg Sarl).
An appreciating Canadian dollar, an increase in energy prices and the cost of fibre, fierce competition: the years 2000s also had their fill of challenges for Cascades, which forced it to implement a significant rationalization plan. This process resulted in, namely, the closure of mills in Thunder Bay, Montréal, Red Rock, Pickering, Buffalo and Boissy le Chatel. In 2005, the company also proceeded with the sale of its fine papers (Cascades Resources) and its tissue paper (Wood Wyant) distribution assets.
By concentrating its operations in growth area sectors such as packaging and tissue paper, Cascades proves that it can still excel, even in difficult economic conditions. The company has clearly shown that with the purchase of Domtar's shares in Norampac in 2006 and the merger of its European boxboard operations with Reno de Medici in 2007, two transactions that consolidate its position as a leader in the containerboard and boxboard sectors.
In 2008, North-American boxboard activities were integrated into Norampac's cartonboard activities. In addition to creating synergy, this integration allowed better sharing of technology and led to the creation of a larger packaging group to better meet the needs of clients in Canada and the United States.
In 2011, Cascades named Mario Plourde Chief Operating Officer, thus enabling Alain Lemaire, President and Chief Executive Officer,
to devote more time to the strategic vision of the company. Also in 2011, Cascades sold Dopaco Inc., its paper cup and carton converting business for the quick-service restaurant and foodservice industries, to Reynolds Group Holdings Limited. Net proceeds from the transaction will mainly be used to pay down Cascades' debt.
In keeping with its origins but definitely being forward-looking, Cascades is banking on its products that contain a high percentage of recycled fibres to distinguish itself from the competition, while remaining committed to the principles of sustainable development that is so dear to its corporate philosophy. Cascades also demonstrates that it understands that only innovation and the marketing of environmentally sound products will guarantee its future success.
In October 2008, Cascades was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine.
The company is not related to American paper company Boise Cascade.
Cascades is a member of the Forest Products Association of Canada.