On behalf of myself and the Board of Directors...Welcome to Forest Expo 2000. The theme for this year's show is: "Canada's Forests-Learning from the Past, Building for the Future" This is our 9 th biennial event and we expect it will be bigger and better than ever. Well over 400 exhibitors are anticipated as well as 25,000 attendees from forest related industries. This is the show to both exhibit at and purchase the latest in cutting edge technology for our industry. As well as the trade show, many special events and social functions have been planned, so there will be something for everyone. We hope you enjoy your experience here and we congratulate you on choosing Forest Expo-Canada's Top Forestry Show. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our many volunteers who have worked diligently to make this a first class exhibition. A special thank you to our many generous corporate sponsors as well. We couldn't do it without you!! See you at Forest Expo 2000.
Yours truly, Curt Wallach Chairman, Forest Expo 2000
Wallach says attendance should also be boosted by a modest turnaround in the economic health of the province in the latter half of 1999, helped by improvements in lumber and pulp prices. Forest Expo has always been a potent driver of community spirit in Prince George. "The thing I like the best with all the equipment dealers in this town is we compete like crazy-it's a very competitive industry and we all have good products-and yet for Forest Expo we all work together for the show," says Wallach. "If we can help out at Forest Expo, we do. We become people, individuals, not companies." Getting involved can represent a big time commitment. The show's executive, for instance, holds about two meetings a month for most of the two years between shows. The frequency picks up closer to the opening as more details require attention and decisions need making. All the time and talent is volunteered.
That's one of the most surprising aspects about a trade show that shatters all stereotypes. Trudy Swaan, Forest Expo's invaluable manager and string puller, and her small but extremely efficient staff, are the only paid employees. And Forest Expo is Canada's top forestry show and highly ranked in North America. Perhaps it's unfair to single out a couple of examples but the Humphries family works all winter in the bush and they then contact Forest Expo a couple of weeks before the show and ask how they can help or what equipment is needed. Most of the volunteers have been doing what they can since the show started in 1985 and know what's needed. Wallach says one volunteer uses his holidays so he can help out at Forest Expo. And there are others.
Keith Hart runs around the countryside with his selfloading logging truck picking up loads of donated timber for demonstration uses at Forest Expo. There are lots of stories like that, says Wallach. And they don't bill for their expenses. They might get a free hamburger out of it. Setting up the show takes time and effort and so does restoring Exhibition Park to its normal appearance afterwards. The equipment leaves pretty quickly but it takes trucks an entire week to haul away all the sawdust and chips from the outdoor sites. "That kind of devotion to Forest Expo is mind boggling," adds Wallach. Humbling is a good word for it. It's what makes Forest Expo so special.
Canfor had about 1,800 employees in Prince George and Fort St James before the takeover, Northwood had about 2,200 between Prince George and Houston, BC. Canfor gains more than processing plants. It adds significantly to its timber harvesting rights, estimated at about 30 per cent of the Prince George area's cutting rights. There's a further huge advantage for Canfor going global in size. Along with timber cutting rights and sawmills, the company picks up invaluable duty free lumber export quota into the US. Canfor is now the country's largest quota holder under the Canada US softwood lumber agreement. Each company is allotted a quota for shipping lumber into the dominant US market under the agreement. A duty is levied if the quota cap is exceeded. Most companies in BC can't afford to pay the duty even when lumber prices are as good as they have been because the province has the highest operating base costs among its competitors. How quota is allocated and whether it should be imposed in any form is a hot issue within BC and other softwood lumber producing provinces. The present five-year agreement expires in April 2001. Canfor is on record as favouring an open border for lumber exports. And with its acquisition of Northwood, and the punch of its new size, the company is poised to benefit if that comes about. "If we are to meet the growing demands of our customers, we must have unfettered access to the marketplace.
Either we have North American free trade or we do not," said Emerson in a recent statement on the issue. Canfor is the big boy on the block, but Prince George remains home to other licensees with proven performance records. The Pas Lumber Company has been operating continuously in Prince George since 1954. Like the others, it has done its share of acquiring other smaller operations through the years and consolidating them to maintain efficiency, expanding timber harvesting rights and developing marketing clout along the way. Lakeland Mills is another survivor and is associated with Sinclar Enterprises Ltd, a company of lumber brokers and exporters which-through affiliates-also represents the interests of Apollo Forest Products/Tl'ol Forest products in Fort St James and Nechako Lumber Company in Vanderhoof. Carrier Lumber is an independent dimension lumber producing company with nearly half a century of history intertwined with Prince George. It also operates mills in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Sadly, the company's president and its driving force, Bill Kordyban
Sr, died earlier this year. Prince George is the head and sales office for Dunkley Lumber
with its mill located 80 kilometres south of the city, near Strathnaver. Dunkley has honed
a reputation for quality products in the demanding Japanese housing sector market. It
ships nearly a third of its production to that country. Prince George has more recently
become centre of a vibrant, value added wood product sector and more information about
that is featured elsewhere in this Forest Expo Show Guide special issue.
That was one year after the Prince George & District Trucker's Association became the CILA, with Howard Lloyd as chairman. Caswell has worked for the logging association since 1974. The CILA's annual convention was a big deal every May. It was held at the Inn of the North downtown with booths inside and heavy equipment displays in the parking lot across the road. Logging contractors and truckers who had worked hard in the bush all winter came into town for the convention. They did some business, they drank a lot of moose milk. Stories of their exploits are legendary. Caswell relates the one about the logger who used his chain saw to get from one hospitality room to the next. The convention reached the point where it needed to grow, recalls Caswell.
But it didn't quite work out that way. Other groups didn't want to risk losing their identity. Other sectors are part of Forest Expo but the core then, as now, is the timber harvesting and log hauling community, says Caswell. A recent influx of small sawmillers has added a new, value added dimension to the show. "Part of the vision was to have a trade show with all the latest techniques for customers, and with all that iron demonstrate to people the impact of the sector on the community," says Zirnhelt. "Then from there, we said let's see if we can educate the public in a more technical way." Comprehensive displays around integrated resource management and later the Resource Awareness Centre chart the continuing growth of that side of Forest Expo. Gradually, as the show grew, the CILA became more of a player within the forestry community than the principal organizer. The association will hold its AGM during Forest Expo, true to tradition. Trudy Swaan has been Forest Expo's general manager for the last five events, an appointment unanimously appreciated. "Trudy is an excellent general manager," says Zirnhelt. "She's got such momentum and she's a networker.
She listens to the board and keeps those orangutan suppliers in
line," adds Caswell with a smile. Swaan and her staff are Forest Expo's only paid
employees. The board has obviously made many other good moves. The show was quickly
trimmed from five days to three and then went to a biennial format. The name was changed
to Forest Expo. And some lessons have been learned. Like offering free breakfasts to
exhibitors before the show started each day. Nice gesture but: "It seemed like we
were feeding half of Prince George," remembers Zirnhelt. "People were crawling
under the gates to get in on a free breakfast and few of them had anything to do with
Forest Expo. We were spending $10,000 on breakfasts and we were getting them cheaply
thanks to service clubs." Forest Expo has never taken a step back in its history of
growth. There have been maintenance tweaks, for sure, but nothing major. Forest Expo's
success doesn't particularly surprise Zirnhelt or Caswell. "I think the vision was
always there, but maybe not the expectation," says Zirnhelt. "It's been a very
positive experience right through and a good demonstration of cooperation." Not to
mention a lot of fun.
Fostering Forestry Education
Canvassing about 100 teachers from kindergarten to Grade 12 -and administrators- resulted in a unanimous "yes" to the proposal, recalls Lear. Teachers said they lacked core information to relate forest education to curriculum and what little they could access was brief, out of date and nationally oriented. It was the teachers who recommended launching forest education in Grade Five because it could be slotted into the government's mandatory natural resources curriculum. The teachers had other suggestions for the NFPA. The short form was: if you're going to start a program, finish it; avoid bias by giving us just the information; do a professional job; we're the experts at education, work with us. Lear used that feedback to fashion a five-year development program, which the NFPA approved. It also led Lear to a fork in the road: he was seconded from the school district for two years to steer development of the forest education program. He's proved to be a wise choice-as a teacher with 20 years' experience, he speaks the right language.
The next stage was to quiz Grade Five teachers to generate ideas about the kinds of teaching materials the NFPA could supply. An advisory committee resulted, comprised of 11 Grade Five teachers, five industry representatives from NFPA member companies and two representatives from the community at large. The committee members got to work outlining what a Grade Five forest education program would look like, continues Lear. It was distilled into three subject groups: wood and wood products; trees and tree identification; and people in the forest. Teachers wanted materials they could integrate across the curriculum, anywhere from math and science to English or the arts. A writing team prepared lesson plans and answer keys for each module and they were edited to a consistent, standardized style. The finished teaching materials comprise the education program resource kit. It includes videos, CDs, books, web sites for further information and deliberately designed hands on samples to stimulate Grade Five students. Samples include packaged seeds and leaves of regional trees, examples of wood products like OSB, glulam, finger-jointed wood, chips and pellets.
The whole kit is encased in a Forest Education Program box that's a value added resource in itself, constructed from local birch and on casters for easy movement. The resource kit is not foisted upon teachers- it's entirely voluntary and they can use as little or as much as they wish, notes Lear. And they are free for the asking. The only stipulation is teachers participate in a workshop that explains what the NFPA is about- the feasibility study revealed some had no idea about the forest industry-and why the forest education program was established. Lear has received many inquiries about the program from schools outside the NFPA area, which extends from Fort Nelson to Strathnaver and Moricetown to the Alberta border. The priority is the NFPA region but future expansion looks promising. Also a web site is in the development stage including the possibilities of virtual tours of processing plants. "We want to give the teachers the tools to do the job the ministry (of education) wants," says Lear. "The teacher's imagination will make it grow."
John Brink exudes a rare passion about the future of the regional forest industry. It's refreshing-like a shaft of sunlight on an overcast day. "I was bullish about the future in 1975 and I'm more positive today," he declares. "We've made some progress but I believe the best is yet to come. The pace is picking up and the public is demanding we do more with less." Twenty-five years ago, he founded Brink Forest Products Ltd in Prince George, the first finger joint plant in the region. It wasn't a fashionable notion then to take short, low value pieces of wood and join them together to manufacture premium products. His company had all kinds of problems. The plant endured shutdowns when Brink couldn't access the fibre it required. But determination won out. And since then, the industry structure has gradually changed and more cooperation has developed between primary and secondary wood product producers.
The Prince George region is now home to a wide range and size of value added plants marketing everything from furniture blanks to siding and from engineered wood products to heating fuels and arrow shafts. But Brink, who was the first president of the BC Council of Value Added Wood Processors, believes the potential has only been scratched. "There's no question we can get more value from the resource and double the number of jobs per cubic metre of wood harvested. We can have 20,000 new direct jobs in the Prince George region," states Brink. "That's direct jobs. We have to be willing and dare to build the vision through strategic long term planning." He says we have to figure where we want to be in five, 15 and 25 years' time. "We have to put together as a province a coherent strategic plan to move forward with a forest industry that requires more economic and social value from the resource." He recognizes that won't be achieved through short-term political expediency but through public awareness. "The timber resource is the public's resource. They should continue demanding a coherent longer term strategy and they will do that as they become better informed."
Available long-term plan for the economic development of the forest industry will provide the impetus for capital investment, he adds. It will also reinforce Prince George's role as a global producer. Brink says the region has some of the best wood fibre in the world in terms of diversity and quality. "And you could not design a better location, strategically positioned between Asia and Europe and next door to the US and the largest value added consuming market." The natural advantages are augmented by the transportation infrastructure of two major railways connecting the region to Canada and the US, the highway system and world class ports in Prince Rupert and Vancouver. But Brink believes investment in another kind of infrastructure is critical. "We have to start training our work force now for the new forest industry and the new forest technology to crystallize and capture the entrepreneurial spirit." He's backing his conviction with currency. Brink is spreading a $500,000 donation over five years toward building and equipping a northern wood technology centre at the College of New Caledonia in Prince George. He hopes his gesture will spur his industry peers and the government to action and make the $9.6 million centre a reality. He believes the industry offers immense employment opportunities.
Brink is convinced working together is a key to accommodating
change. He sees more harmony between secondary and primary manufacturers and joint
ventures. And he predicts a healthy mix in company sizes, from the global ones, like the
new Canfor, to large/medium sawmills and new specialty plants. He also feels a growing
trend will ensure the right log is directed to the right sawmill to produce the right
product. Brink emphasizes that all the different kinds and sizes of plants have to be
viable, however. "We should not prop up companies which are not viable and the
government should not get involved in the industry. Entrepreneurship gives the right to
fail and the right to succeed." Brink's commitment to cooperation is further
reflected in a three-year involvement with the BC steering committee for the Forest
Stewardship Council. The council is an independent and recognized third party working to
assure global markets that wood products certified by it come from companies demonstrating
sound and sustainable principles of forest management. The committee represents the
different stakeholders in BC, including environmental groups and First Nations, sitting
down together to hammer out a workable consensus. And to John Brink, that's the only way
to move forward.
Bill Kordyban Sr's many friends are going to miss talking to him at this year's Forest Expo. The president of family owned and managed Carrier Lumber Ltd of Prince George overcame most obstacles in life but succumbed to cancer this past January. He was 73 years old. Kordyban defined the term "self-made man" and made lasting contributions to the forest industry and his community. Kordyban and his wife Mary came to Prince George from northern Alberta in 1951. Carrier Lumber emerged as one of the few survivors from the hundreds of small logging and sawmilling operations that had their start in the region in that era. The Kordyban family built Carrier into one of the largest independently owned forest companies, with operations in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. In 1999, it was ranked Canada's 29th largest softwood lumber producer Statements like "you can't do that" or "it won't work" brought out the best in Bill Kordyban. He'd buckle down and with inimitable fashion amalgamate common sense with innovation and come up with yet another method or machinery development to solve a difficult operating problem. Kordyban's practical solutions span the decades. In 1958, he developed an industry standard edge belt lumber sorter. He was among the first to see the value in recovering wood chips for pulp production. He built sawmills in Mackenzie and Prince George that ran efficiently for years.
With an eye for opportunity and the courage to pursue it, he
constructed portable, high production dimension and stud mills in the early 1960s to
process wood recovered-using flotation logging- from the rising waters of Williston Lake.
He redefined the concept of portable mills during the next 30 years. Kordyban's units
achieve high lumber recovery values through control and precision but have the flexibility
to be moved in modular combinations to address beetle attacked or fire damaged timber.
Kordyban was a sustained critic of how public timber is allocated in BC. He recommended
scrapping the current quota system in favour of his credible auction system. He believed
all public timber should be competitively bid by Canadians. Kordyban's protracted dispute
with the provincial government about the curtailing of Carrier's cutting rights in the
west Chilcotin was vindicated in 1999 when a Supreme Court judge ruled in the company's
favour and roundly chastised the NDP government for its handling of the matter. The
government has appealed the decision. Kordyban's stand was typical. He believed in free
enterprise and the rights of the individual. And he would discuss his views at length.
Some in the forest industry disagreed strongly with his positions. But by the end of the
day, however grudgingly, Kordyban had earned their respect. "picture image of
The goals include adding stability to the community by stimulating local employment, providing new recreational opportunities and adding to the growth potential of tourism. Guenter says there are real concerns about safeguarding lakeshore views and recreational development, generally because the village is on highway corridors. The community forest proposal gives a local voice in how other resources are developed. Guenter says timber harvesting in the forest will be contracted out and money generated from its sale used to pay for silvicultural work and to meet other management plan objectives. B L ComFor is protecting the health of its future community forest. It awarded fall and burn contracts and snip and skid type logging under the ministry's small scale salvage program to treat mountain pine beetle infestation. Burns Lake attempted to acquire a voice in local forestland development in 1974 when it applied for a municipal tree farm licence. The tenure type and the proposal was nixed by a change in government.
The proposed Fort St James Community Forest includes about 3,500 hectares of land near Stuart Lake, about 10 kilometres from the district, 160 kilometres northwest of Prince George. "We're in the preliminary and development stage, looking at all the things that are possible," says Peter Robinson, economic development coordinator for the community forest proposal. "The community will be saying where we can go to be exemplary stewards of the land base." The provincial government's version of community forests is new, and the detail and mechanics of how the tenure will operate remains to be clarified in several areas. Robinson says community forest development will encompass the entire landscape and include recreation, employment, biodiversity, fish and wildlife, water quality and timber values. "Right now we have no inventories on wildlife and fish habitat."
What the Fort St James group does have is forest land expertise.
"We have lots of talent, good resident management in the community. And these are
practical people, used to getting things done," adds Robinson. He predicts a
blossoming of the community forest tenure development during the coming year.
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