Manon Simard: an exceptional woman
The general director of the Lac-Saint-Jean Sawmill and its subsidiary Bois Lac-Saint-Jean, Manon Simard, sees her managerial qualities recognized, while the Quebec Forest Industry Council (CIFQ) awards her the Outstanding Recognition Award for the year 2019.
The Métabetchouan entrepreneur is the first woman to win this distinction, in a world that is overwhelmingly male. In the early 1990s, she joined the family business founded by her father, Jean-Guy Simard, and her mother, Solange, who has died today.
The honor reserved to Manon Simard is fully appreciated considering that the wood and pulp and paper industry represents 65,000 jobs and is considered one of the pillars of the Québec economy. The awards ceremony took place on Wednesday evening as part of the CIFQ’s annual convention banquet.
This distinction is supported by the members of the board of directors, who represent the major players in the forest industry in Quebec.
In an interview with Le Quotidien, Manon Simard returned to the male reality in this industry. She argued that this reality is changing little by little. According to the laureate, having had as a model a woman has, in a way, paved the way: “My mother, Solange, was a great woman. My father, Jean-Guy, managed the forestry operations and the sawmill; my mother took care of the administration, “she said with great emotion.
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troubled period One
who has a background in computer science ensures that the world of wood processing is not so far from the computer. She has had the opportunity, on several occasions, to use this training as part of her management work.
While climbing the family business one by one, Manon Simard got involved in helping the sawmill industry, which was in crisis after crisis. Upon arrival at the CIFQ, Quebec industry was hit by L’erreur boréale, which was followed by the collapse of export markets and an endless trade war with the US government.
“I think we want to highlight the work I have done in various committees up to the executive council of the CIFQ,” said the one who has always preferred to work in the shadows. She was also active in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean network of independent sawmills, created to defend the interests of family businesses, which had to evolve in a landscape dominated by large paper mills.
Manon Simard recalls working on a number of issues. The industry was moving with a strong headwind, as prices stagnated. The sawyers then took advantage, for a brief moment, of the American housing bubble, before being in a new crisis.
“There is always a crisis. When it’s not the market, it’s a new forest regime, “says the entrepreneur, who, despite everything, identified the right windows to advance the family business.
For example, she purchased a small sawmill line and stored it during the last crisis. It also recovered the bankruptcy of the Hébertville wood drying complex to renovate it just in time for the recovery of the market. She did the same with the sawing line for the small wood.