New manager at West Fraser’s Alberta Plywood veneer mill

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

West Fraser does seem to move its top management people around quite a bit. It seems just the other day The Leader interviewed new Slave Lake mill manager Shea Pletzer. But he’s moved on and the new manager of the veneer mill at the Mitsue Industrial Park is Kevin Albrecht.

“I’ve been here since September,” says Albrecht. “We moved here from Manning.”

Manning is his home town. He worked over 18 years at Manning Diversified, the local sawmill, which was taken over by West Fraser in 2015.

After a break from that sort of work, during which he ran the local pharmacy with his wife Erin, Albrecht rejoined the company early last year. With the downturn in the economy, things had gotten pretty slow in the business, he says.

The mill must have been happy to have Albrecht back, because they made him superintendent right off the bat. In March he was made general manager, and in September transferred to Slave Lake. His promotion was offered with the understanding it might entail a transfer, he says.

“It’s good!” he says, in answer to the question ‘How’s it going so far?’ “The community has been really good, and we have a great staff.”

As if to prove the point, Albrecht takes the reporter on a tour of the office, introducing several people in the midst of whatever it is they are doing.
That includes new woodlands manager Tim Burns, who came over from the West Fraser sawmill in High Prairie, to replace the recently-retired Bert Larocque. Also Richard Chemago, Jeff Blocka and Kevin Campbell, who work under Burns in the woodlands department.

Things are decent in the world of plywood, Albrecht says. Prices are not as good at the moment as they were for a period last year, but it’s “hanging in there,” he says. “It all depends on housing starts in Eastern Canada.”

Besides the veneer for plywood, the mill produces ‘cores’ that are occasionally seen heading south on trucks. They are used for a variety of purposes and are pretty highly regarded.

“They’re sold all over,” he says.

Kevin Albrecht

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