Howard Allan Simons, P.Eng was one of the leading pulp and paper mill engineers in North America. Born in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1897, he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1922 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and began his career working for the industrial engineering company his father had established in Chicago in 1914, V.D. Simons Inc. The company specialized in pulp and paper mills, hydro-electric and steam power plants, and electrification of paper mills and was involved in the design and construction of approximately two dozen paper mills in a half dozen American states and in British Columbia.
In 1939, Prentice Bloedel awarded H.A. Simons the contract to study, design and then supervise the construction of Bloedel, Stewart & Welch’s unbleached Kraft pulp mill in Port Alberni, BC. Design and construction of this mill was interrupted by war and H.A. Simons moved with his family to Powell River, BC, to serve as a consulting engineer for improvements and additions to Powell River Company’s high grade sulphite mill, where he developed a new method for handling groundwood and carried out studies on possible uses of waste wood and wood products for Bloedel, Stewart & Welch.
He moved to Seattle in 1942 to focus on studies for the Port Alberni mill and then to Vancouver in 1944 for the design work of the mill, establishing H.A. Simons Ltd. The Port Alberni project was completed in 1947 on time and on budget and would be the first pulp mill built in BC since 1918 and the first post-war Kraft pulp mill in Canada. The Port Alberni mill won worldwide recognition.
H.A. Simons was contracted by H.R. MacMillan Company Ltd. in 1948 to design and construct the Harmac bleached draft pulp mill near Nanaimo, BC, the first mill in North America to employ chlorine dioxide bleaching. In 1950-1952 he designed and built a 300-ton newsprint mill for Elk Falls Company in Campbell River, BC, and went on to complete the design and construction of new mills for East Texas Pulp and Paper Company and St. Regis Paper Company, as well as several extensive expansions for MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. and Elk Falls Company.
H.A. Simons Ltd. became Simons International Corporation under the leadership of Thomas A. Simons and was eventually sold to AGRA in 1999. AGRA subsequently merged with AMEC two years later. Much of Simons International Corporation’s offices and operations continue to exist as part of AMEC today.