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Lafarge plant manager parts ways with company

EXSHAW – Over the past five years Jim Bachmann made it his goal to improve Lafarge’s relationship with residents throughout the Bow Valley and by all accounts he did just that.
James Bachman
Jim Bachman outside of the Lafarge Cement plant in Exshaw on June 18. He is parting ways with the company after spending 14 years with the company, five of those in Exshaw.

EXSHAW – Over the past five years Jim Bachmann made it his goal to improve Lafarge’s relationship with residents throughout the Bow Valley and by all accounts he did just that.

As manager of Canada’s largest cement plant, he worked hard to build lasting relationships while simultaneously overseeing an expansion plan that cost more than half a billion dollars and nearly doubled the plant’s production.

His efforts were recognized by the Municipal District of Bighorn, which presented Bachmann with a Friends of Bighorn award on June 12.

“I have to say that I looked over the list of Lafarge managers that have come to our community and moved on and it’s a long list. Some stayed for a short time, some stayed for a longer time, but few have been enjoyed by the community as much as you,” said Dene Cooper, reeve for the MD of Bighorn.

“No one has improved relationships with the community in a shorter amount of time and in a greater depth than you did.”

Bachmann graciously thanked the MD for the award, describing the past five years as the best of his career.

“It’s never been just about business to me, it’s about what you leave behind, and being a good community partner is always something my team and I put a lot of effort into. That’s what we’re leaving behind,” said Bachmann.

By the end of June, he said, he will part ways with the company, but has no plans to leave Canmore, where he lives with his wife and two children, aged eight and 10.

“My role is essentially complete here,” said Bachmann, who was born in South Dakota and spent the past 14 years with the company.

“I came here on an expat assignment and our new CEO for LafargeHolcim has decided to suspend or end all those expat assignments.”

He first joined the Exshaw plant in 2013, preparing for its expansion before being appointed its manager in 2015 after former plant manager Heinz Knopfel retired.

Prior to moving to the Bow Valley, he spent nine years with the company, including three-and-a-half years as operations manager for the Alpena Michigan plant – Lafarge’s largest cement plant in the United States at the time.

Following that appointment, he moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he spent the next four-and-a-half years as plant manager before moving to Chicago to take up a 12-month position at the company’s headquarters as director of manufacturing.

During his five-year tenure as plant manager in Exshaw he said he was proud of his team for doubling the plant’s production, cutting costs and improving the overall profitability of the plant.

He said he was also proud of its safety and environmental record.

“We’ve massively added infrastructure to reduce our emissions at the plant and therefore created a cleaner community and laid the groundwork for a new future on carbon emissions with low carbon fuels.”

While his time with Lafarge has come to an end, he said he is actively looking for a new position either in the Bow Valley or Calgary.

“We love this valley and we love the people here, so we plan on staying,” said Bachmann.

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