We are committed to the success of our shareholders and lenders and manage their capital to the best of our ability. With our focus on continuous improvement and operational excellence, we are setting production records, achieving industry-leading financial returns, and building a platform for growth.
We are committed to executing our Five (5) Pillar Strategy that we believe will add value for our shareholders and lenders:
We believe that the operation and maintenance of modern, efficient world-class manufacturing facilities is a core foundation for success. Energy self-sufficiency, cost-effectiveness, and operational efficiency will help ensure our success and provide a solid foundation to expand.
We believe that we have deep and demonstrated corporate competencies in specific areas including:
Through our investment in new technologies, we have advanced many innovative solutions to complex problems including full-forest utilization processes, the redesign of log-carrying rail cars and wood chip and log hauling trucks, wood purchasing joint ventures, along with many others. Innovation is a core element of our culture and we actively promote it with our team members.
We have significant experience in designing, managing, and executing large construction projects. Our construction experience ranges from a green-field kraft pulp mill, brown-field mill rebuilds, green energy projects, and implementing a variety of large and complex capital programs.
Another core element of our culture is the desire to continuously advance our operating performance. We achieved record pulp and electricity production in 2018 and continue to utilize cross-functional teams to tackle difficult problems or opportunities.
We are focused on growing our company in areas of core competence and market leadership. To that end, we are focused on developing in one or more of the following spaces:
Products & Services
We believe that meaningful, relevant, and regular training for all team members is critical to our success and the career success of our team members. As natural leadership characteristics begin to emerge, we prepare those individuals for supervisory and management positions by providing very specific and high-quality leadership training.
Through our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion portfolio, we aim to further develop the talent within Mercer and change our way of working. Innovation comes with new ideas, which come from diverse experiences and worldviews. As diversity grows, so does Mercer.
We are committed to maintaining a capital structure that protects the company in the event of a downturn in markets yet provides the flexibility to expand quickly in the event that we encounter an opportunity to grow. We maintain a conservative leverage level over time and are committed to a material dividend that we expect can be maintained through economic cycles. In times when pressure on the stock price is exceptional, we have supported our shareholders by buying back small volumes of stock on the open market.
We are committed to sustainability: a sustainable, renewable, and biodegradable product line from sustainable forests; a sustainable partnership with team members; transparency with communities and other stakeholders; and sustainable environmental performance.