Source: Malaspina University College
Education gamble pays off with new career in pulp and paper industry
October 13, 2006
From Cuba, to Panama,
to Nanaimo, the Fiandor family has steadily overcome challenges to build a
Eloy Fiandor is no exception. Two years ago he closed his business and
returned to school, enrolling in the new Pulp and Paper Operations
certificate program offered by Malaspina University-College.
A student loan provided a fraction of his former income, resulting in a lean
year of sacrifice for Fiandor, his wife Catherine and their two daughters.
"It was pretty tight. But every once in a while you have to take a gamble to
jump-start your life."
Fiandor learned that lesson as a teenager. Born and raised in Cuba, his
family tried to leave for years. He was 15 when relatives in Florida
produced visas for Panama, allowing the family to escape Cuba but trapping
them in Panama for two years. Finally they were accepted as Canadian
immigrants and moved to Nanaimo.
Just as that gamble paid off in a better life for Fiandor, his educational
gamble now promises a better future for his family. Although he had been out
of school for 12 years, once at Malaspina he rediscovered his study habits
and his love of learning.
He tied as the top student in the course and, after graduation, was hired by
Harmac Pulp Operations where he has worked for the past year.
"It was a gamble and it worked out for me," he said, explaining that at the
time he enrolled, the course was new and no one knew for sure if graduates
would find work. As the first year of the program ended, only six students
had been offered jobs and none of those jobs were at Harmac.
For Fiandor, a job at Harmac meant he could stay in Nanaimo, where he and
his wife own a home. His parents live within blocks of their home and his
wifeís family lives close by, creating a solid network of support.
He discovered Harmac needed someone with a first aid attendant ticket, so he
took the course to obtain his ticket. That ticket and his Pulp and Paper
Operations certificate from Malaspina gave him the job he wanted.
"I have a really good job and I actually enjoy going to work every day," he
said. "The course prepares you for what youíre going to encounter when you
come onto the job site. Safety-wise, itís important. If you donít follow the
precautions, itís a potentially dangerous industry to work in."
Since that first class, B.C. pulp mills have recognized the value of
Malaspina-trained entry-level employees. All graduates from the first year
of the program have been hired. Harmac has hired five graduates from the
second this yearís program, which ended in September. Four weeks after
graduation, 15 of the 17 students are employed. The remaining two students
were offered jobs but were not able to relocate.
"Jobs were available for all of the students," Marshall said. He is now
reviewing applications for the third session of the program, which starts in
January 2007. For information, go to www.mala.ca.
Fiandor expects his new career will provide lasting employment in a
paper-hungry world. His previous business, a tuxedo rental service for
cruise ships, was hit hard by fewer travellers post 9/11 and a change to
casual attire on cruises.
Financially, he said the impact of his new career has been "tremendous. It
pays very well and there are lots of opportunities for advancement in the
He also appreciates the work schedule, which allows him to be home in time
to pick up his daughters from school.
Fiandor is already considering additional training to occupy one of the
trades positions in the mill. "It depends how ambitious you are. Iím looking
at a trade Ė probably millwright.
"It is all for a better life for my family. Family comes first," he said.
For more information contact: Toni O'Keeffe, Director of Communications &
Public Relations. Phone (250) 740-6341; FAX (250) 740-6474; E-mail