A Word from our Executive Chairman
2018 was a transitional year for CellMark. We refocused the company and concentrated our activities within the seven existing operating divisions. These divisions work in very large market segments where there is plenty of space for each division to grow and find new niche opportunities.
In spite of a turbulent start to the year, with the termination of our CEO, the employees managed to bring the company forward achieving record gross profit earnings. This was exceptional since we spent large amounts to close CellMark Technology, manage
CellMark Medical and finalize the long overdue strategic restructuring of the Paper Division. I’m happy to report that 2019 has started well with the Paper Division resuming profitability for the first time in almost a year.
2018 was a year where we were challenged with the negative consequences of political decisions. The introduction of tariffs on paper imported from Canada and the ban of certain recyclables into China, created substantial demurrage and rerouting charges, which challenged both our Paper Division and Recycling Division.
CellMark Chemicals had been looking for a new facility to relocate its AnMar operation in order to expand and upgrade their nutrition business. During 2018 we managed to locate a facility in Naugatuck, CT, USA, and are now planning an upgrade to the building and construction of new laboratories, to support this area of our Chemical business.
The Recycling Division expanded their activities to include construction and demolition debris, plastic resins and post consumer metals. We are enthusiastic about this diversification however 2019 could test their ability to adjust to a slowing global economy and the decline of China as a viable outlet. The Pulp Division sold it’s equity share in the Vietnam pellet plant but continued its strategic growth in pellet trading. Basic Chemicals continued its geographic and product expansion while increasing profitability.
CellMark strives to care for it’s employees by fostering camaraderie and a good corporate culture. Through the PaperSeed Foundation, other CSR efforts and a biannual Great Place To Work survey we frequently measure how our employees view CellMark. I was very happy to learn that in 2018 we had a record participation in our Great Place to Work survey with the highest approval rating to date.
We used 2018 to create more transparency in relation to our service functions. We measure our divisional results and efficiencies frequently and in order to become more effective we have to do the same with our support functions. To remain as a top tier service provider we must be easy and efficient to work with in the eyes of our customers and suppliers. To exceed expectations we must continue to review and update our systems as a top priority for the coming years.
After a long search we selected Christer Simrén to be our new CEO. Christer has a long, successful career in the pulp and paper industry including experience in operations, sales and IT. CellMark is a unique company with a long successful history and a strong culture and Christer is an enthusiastic, good fit to ensure this continuity for the benefit of our suppliers, customers and employee owners.
We want to thank all our colleagues and business partners and we look forward to embracing new challenges during 2019. I think we are well prepared.