Plowing the Road

Domtar’s Nancy Klembus brings tremendous enthusiasm to her integrating and streamlining of the company’s Personal Care division

“I don’t like to be bored,” says Nancy Klembus, vice president of innovation, global intellectual property, and Personal Care division law/administration for paper and pulp manufacturer Domtar. The largest integrated producer of uncoated free-sheet paper in North America, Domtar creates paper products for offices, publishing, and personal use.

But its product line extends to much more than just copier paper: the company’s Personal Care division, for instance, focuses on creating absorbent hygiene products for customers of all ages. As a member of the Personal Care leadership team, Klembus has put her drive for innovation and change to great use as the division is transforming itself to make the best use of its many component companies, improving processes for the company and customers alike.

Nancy Klembus, VP of Innovation, Global Intellectual Property & North American Personal Care Law & Administration, Domtar Photo by Holly Doughty, HD Photography

The road to leading the legal function for the Personal Care division has been a long and winding one for Klembus. After graduating from the University of Michigan Law School following a ten-year stint as an engineer at General Motors, Klembus quickly found work at an IP firm in Michigan as an associate, where she gained substantial experience in a variety of legal approaches to IP and client management.

Eventually, Klembus made her way to Domtar, where she started as the global vice president of IP, taking on advertising law and product regulatory concerns. However, her zeal for taking on new challenges led her to say yes to Personal Care president Mike Fagan when he asked her to lead projects to simplify the work within the division. “These can be messy projects with technology, business, and law all jumbled together,” Klembus says.

Domtar’s Personal Care division is a collection of several different companies the firm has acquired over the years in the United States and Europe, all related to creating and manufacturing absorbent hygiene products. For example, one company focused on manufacturing baby diapers, another on creating novel absorbent materials, while the others focused on incontinence products and related goods.

“Like all companies that are built through acquisitions, these businesses have processes that need to come together,” Klembus says. She immediately started looking for ways to enhance synergies and efficiencies across these varying companies. Her goal was to first get them working better together to improve efficiency across the board. “When you get a team that works hard and works together, they can move mountains,” Klembus asserts.

As an example, each company used different development systems for creating new products and changing existing products. “We lose time and efficiency in rolling out product improvements because we don’t have a single system,” Klembus explains. With the help of Klembus and her teammates, the company is revamping its product management systems to more quickly launch meaningful customer innovations in a more cost-effective manner.

At all times, Klembus and the entire leadership team keep their eye on the end goal of these changes: the satisfaction of Domtar’s customers, for whom incontinence products represent an important part of their quality of life. Whether helping older people maintain active lifestyles or crafting products that fit customers of all sizes, Klembus feels a personal investment in ensuring people maintain their dignity and enjoy life.

Amid all these changes, Klembus is endlessly grateful for the hard work and strong communication of her team. “As an attorney, you can either plow the road or clean up the mess,” says Klembus. When working with her team, Klembus strives to be as user-friendly as possible, always listening to her team and being a good team member herself. “I’m delighted by the people I get to work with,” she beams. Between the trust of her team and her own dedication to improving the lives of Domtar’s customers who depend on its personal care products, Klembus’s work ensures that she’s never bored.

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Moore & Van Allen:

“Nancy exemplifies the ideal combination of a broad knowledge of the law, the intellectual property underpinning the company’s operations, and an acute business sense that consistently results in efficient, legally sound, and commercially practical solutions.”

Tony Lathrop, Member, and Arlene Hanks, Member

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Polsinelli PC:

“Nancy is a tremendous attorney whose energy and enthusiasm make her an exceptional partner in navigating litigation and compliance issues. It is a pleasure to work with her as we continue to grow our partnership.”

Robert Penza, Shareholder