During the Second World War Eli Cowan, family patriarch, was Chairman of the Canadian Pulp and Paper Association Machine Shop Board. In this position he contributed to the war effort by coordinating pulp and paper mill machine shops across Canada. These shops machined parts for gun mounts assembled in Montreal and installed on Canadian warships.
After the war Eli and his younger brother Ben, founded E&B Cowan Ltd. Hiring engineering talent from all over the world, this Montreal company designed and oversaw construction of 40 pulp and paper mills in locations as diverse as Canada, the United States, Germany, Romania, Finland, Brazil, Hungary and Australia. E&B Cowan organized the installation of 32 paper machines, 40 steam plants, and oversaw the modernization of 29 pulp and paper mills. E&B Cowan Ltd. was later absorbed into the SNC-Lavalin group of companies.
Pulmac, a combination of "Pulp" and "Machinery", was originally established in 1950. Eli Cowan needed a holding company to flow through royalty income for patents associated with process equipment that he developed. The machinery that was most successfully marketed was the venerable Cowan Screen.
Pulmac Research Ltd
In 1964, Eli Cowan's son, Wavell, established Pulmac Research Ltd., borrowing the name from the original holding company owned by his father. Wavell Cowan graduated with a PhD from the Institute of Paper Chemistry in Appleton, Wisconsin, USA (now the Institute of Paper Science and Technology in Atlanta, Georgia). Upon completion of his doctoral studies, Wavell Cowan took a position as Technical Director of the Clyde Paper Mill of Glasgow, Scotland where he worked from 1960 to 1963. As a result of this experience, Dr. Cowan developed ideas about testing equipment that could provide the timely information he needed to monitor, troubleshoot and diagnose process upsets to improve customer quality needs.
Pulmac Instruments International
In 1968, Dr. Cowan spun off Pulmac Instruments Ltd. from his consulting firm. He moved the company to the United States in 1978 where it was reorganized as a family owned business under the trade name of Pulmac Instruments International. Wavell's sons Joff and Brent joined the Company in 1983 and 1998 respectively. Together they developed and marketed z-span systems to support mills in reducing costs through understanding their fiber properties and the MasterScreen for analyzing contaminant loadings in pulp and furnish.
Pulmac Inc. / Pulmac Intl.
Following Wavell Cowan's retirement from the Company in 2004, Joff organized Cowan Technologies in the U.S. and Brent, Pulmac Inc. in Canada to continue the 3rd generation family involvement in the pulp and paper industry.
Pulmac Systems International Inc.
In 2012, Brent and Joff organized Pulmac Systems International to capitalize on the industry's evolving needs for ever higher quality and productivity.