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Fifty years of transformation

Matagami, the “gateway to James Bay,” is a small community with big ambitions. Its 2,000 residents all know and help each other, enjoying an excellent quality of life. Whether they are from the area or elsewhere in Quebec, the employees of the EACOM sawmill have integrated into this tight-knit extended family. Surrounded by hectares of scenic spruce forest, the sawmill continues to bring ambitious and dedicated people together fifty years after its opening.

Alain Morin, who holds a DEP in industrial mechanics, has been working there since 1974. He began as a fixed loader operator and moved up over the years. He is now responsible for five people and loves his job: “It’s been over 45 years and I still learn something new every day. It’s important to have fun while working, and we have a great atmosphere in Matagami,” says Alain.

His recently retired colleague, Gilberthe Paquette, is finding it difficult to completely break away from the team. She comes back to lend a hand with training and other administrative tasks on an ad hoc basis. Gilberthe began as a secretary in 1982 and has worked in IT, payroll and purchasing. “It wasn’t just a job. I had a 37-year career at the sawmill in different departments. There are always opportunities and no barriers. A person who has the will can find a way.”

The mill manager, Hugues Larose, came in for a short-term contract in 1994. Captivated by the atmosphere and opportunities at the sawmill, he moved from La Sarre to Matagami and climbed the ladder from electrician to manager. “We’ve had our challenges over the last fifty years, but we’re resourceful here; we find solutions. We harvest responsibly and produce good-quality wood to supply North American markets.”

Outside of work hours, the team meets up at the arena for hockey tournaments. Not only do their jerseys boast the EACOM logo, but they also sport an ancient African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Hugues explains that it reflects their values perfectly. “We are one big family. We are a solid team, and we really enjoy working together. It’s a great environment, and we have hours that allow us to go home every evening. The quality of life is unbeatable,” he concludes with a smile.