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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

August/September 2015

On the Cover:
Tolko’s Lavington, B.C. sawmill has recently seen a major upgrade that positions the operation well as lumber markets move in a healthy direction, with increased lumber demand, both in North America, and overseas. Read about the major improvements at the Lavington mill beginning on page 14 (Photo of Tolko mill by Paul MacDonald).

Learning from others
Canada’s forest industry will have to implement various approaches to attracting, recruiting, developing and retaining a skilled workforce—and it can learn from other industries and companies, from Apple to Telus, on how to do this.

Re-start for Resolute sawmill
Resolute Forest Products recently re-started its Ignace, Ontario sawmill, having invested $10 million on improvements, with a strong focus on the infeed area so that the mill can now receive cut-to-length logs exclusively.

New headrig and optimization improvements for Tolko Lavington
Tolko Industries’ Lavington, B.C. sawmill has undergone a significant upgrade—involving installing a new headrig from Salem Equipment and associated controls from USNR—that has delivered a solid improvement in recovery.

Rain Forest Sawmill … in the rainforest
Dale Crumback has recently moved from sawyer to company owner at B.C.’s Rain Forest Sawmill, and things are hopping these days with a wide range of customers looking for a variety of wood produced from their biodiesel-powered Wood-Mizer LT 70 sawmill.

Logging ‘n lobsters
New Brunswick logging contractor Drew Conley juggles running a logging operation—with most of the wood going across the line, to Maine—with helping out in the family fishing outfit, catching lobster.

Resolute’s wood pellets now generating power for Ontario
Resolute Forest Products recently completed construction of a $9 million wood pellet plant in Thunder Bay to supply Ontario Power Generation’s power plant in Atikokan with wood pellets as a fuel substitute.

Busy woodlot a welcome sign
One of the primary motivations in establishing the CVWPA woodyard was to diversify wood product production and, in turn, supply diversified markets.

Fearless Contracting: not afraid of diversifying
Vancouver Island’s Fearless Contracting is finding the best business approach is diversification, and as part of that, it is increasingly doing logging work on B.C. Timber Sales, for other larger logging contractors, and for log brokers on the Island.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.

The Last Word
With the federal election coming up, Jim Stirling says there may be a mood shift underway with voters, which could yield some surprising results.

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Busy woodlot a welcome sign

One of the primary motivations in establishing the CVWPA woodyard was to diversify wood product production and, in turn, supply diversified markets.

By George Fullerton

It’s getting busy at the Carleton-Victoria Wood Producers Association (CVWPA) woodyard in New Brunswick—and that is very welcome.

Linda Bell, general manager of the CVWPA, commented that wood deliveries and activity at their woodyard at the Florenceville-Bristol exit from the Trans-Canada highway, in northwest New Brunswick, has picked up markedly over the past year.

“We are seeing a lot more product being delivered to our yard,” says Bell. “We are realizing a lot more competition for wood products, especially from mills on the U.S. side of the border.

Linda Bell, general manager of the Carleton-Victoria Wood Producers Association (CVWPA).

“Those American mills—just like mills in Canada—suffered through the long downturn in the lumber and housing industry,” says Bell. “Just like on the Canadian side, those mills cut back on production and wood procurement, and just like on the Canadian side, they lost production capacity.

“Many contractors and wood producers downsized their operations and many workers, contractors and truckers left the industry—and even the region—to find employment. Now as the demand for lumber and building products picks up, the forest industry on both sides of the border is scrambling to get wood through the gates and keep their mills operating at capacity.”

Bell took on the position of general manager with the CVWPA after serving more than a year as acting general manager. Bell’s career with the association began in 1999, when she started work there as an accountant.

The CVWPA was established in 1975 by a group of woodlot owners, contractors and truckers. Their motivation: establish a working organization to secure balanced access to forest products markets and negotiate supply contracts.

The organization represents the geographic region contained by Carleton and Victoria counties. The region contains the most northerly representation of tolerant hardwood forest on the eastern seaboard and also represents the agriculture land base for New Brunswick’s potato production and the global headquarters of McCain Foods.

One of the primary motivations in establishing the CVWPA woodyard was to diversify wood product production and, in turn, supply diversified markets.

In 1978, the CVWPA conducted a plebiscite to establish the Carleton-Victoria Forest Products Marketing Board which provided legislative authority to carry out negotiations with New Brunswick mills. Throughout their history, the CVWPA organizations have developed numerous services to support land owners and wood producers and truckers. In addition to providing comprehensive silviculture and forest management programs, they have provided extensive leadership and capacity to help producers merchandize logs for highest value and established their woodyard which allows producers to deliver wood locally, any size load, and be assured it will eventually be delivered to a mill that will return best value to the producer.

While the 50-acre woodyard and business offices, conveniently located just off the Trans-Canada Highway, was built in 2005 and opened for business in early 2006, there was a lengthy lead-up.

One of the primary motivations in establishing the woodyard was to diversify wood product production and, in turn, supply diversified markets. Prior to building the woodyard, the association conducted more than half of their total business with one single hardwood pulp mill. The CVWPA was concerned about the possible economic impact to producers if that major market ran into difficulties, or closed completely.

The association saw the woodyard as a means to increase their business, through stockpiling wood and having it available when mill demand peaked. Add to that the potential for small producers to deliver their wood locally and compile it into large volumes for wood buyers was a major attraction.

Bell recalls another incentive to building the woodyard, and it was simply all about space. “In the 1980s, we operated the association from an office building a few kilometres down the road. The association was expanding its high grade hardwood sawlog and veneer markets and offered a high grade bucking service that went into operation, but had some producers delivering tree sections to our office parking lot.”

A Rotobec loader unloads wood at the CVWPA woodyard (left). The woodyard handles all commercial species, which allows operators to find a market for just about any species. Having a variety of markets means operators have complete utilization potential and can operate woodlots to their best potential.

CVWPA technician Brian Richardson would handle stems with a skid steer loader and buck timber with a chainsaw to get the highest value logs and sort products for individual mills. As his work proceeded and the size and number of product piles increased, he would come into the office and get people to move their cars so his work could continue—and if there was a lot of product to handle, there was the chance cars would have to be moved a few times through the day, explained Bell.

“The entire office staff and visitors to our offices were delighted when the wood yard opened and Brian had a specific and large area to continue the merchandizing work. We even retained a stand of trees specifically to allow high grade veneer logs to be piled out of direct sunlight, which can have a serious degrading effect on these valuable logs.”

The woodyard still operates with a philosophy of accepting any marketable wood product from regional producers and making timely payment for the product, regardless of the volume.

“We have a range of producers, from complete mechanized stump-to-dump operators right through to a horse logger who has recently re-started his operation,” says Bell. “We handle all commercial species, so that allows operators to find a market through our yard for just about any species. Having a variety of markets means operators have complete utilization potential and can operate woodlots to their best potential.”

The yard accepts single and multiple product loads, so if an operation encounters high value hardwood sawlog and veneer trees, they can be added to a load of pulp and OSB wood, and segregated at the yard. Those products are directed to high value markets in New Brunswick, Maine and Quebec that will provide the greatest economic value to land owner and the producer.

“Our woodyard also contracts to purchase pile down wood for mills,” says Bell. “Currently our major contract is with Woodland Pulpwood, near Calais, Maine, and we are piling down mixed hardwood pulp as tree length and tree section. We are situated a little beyond their traditional wood basket for direct trucking, but the yard provides the opportunity for them to purchase and store wood at our location, and then haul it out when mill demand calls for it.” Commenting on the business relationship with Woodland Pulpwood, Bell said “they are great to work with.”

CVWPA’s woodyard and the association’s background in merchandising stems for high value logs naturally converged with the addition of a Hood tag-a-long slasher to their loader fleet. A Hood loader, on a Western Star truck, takes the slasher on the road and into harvest operations and processes tree length and tree section timber to merchandize saw logs, primarily for the Groupe Savoie mill in St. Leonard. When demand for the slasher service peaked late in 2014, CVWPA double shifted the operation and had to bring a former employee out of retirement to run the Rotobec loader serving the woodyard operation.

“Our loaders and slasher have had a long service life, but served us through the downturn,” says Bell. “We have a shop on site which is critical for servicing the equipment. We have been parking the old loader inside overnight when the weather gets cold and that goes a long way to get things started and getting to work on cold mornings. With the pick up in our business, I like to think we will soon be able to upgrade our loaders.”

When CVWPA installed their Avery Weigh-Tronix truck scales, they set it up so truckers could make round the clock deliveries. But because of the predominance of tree length production, and subsequently very few self-loading trucks, the yard typically operates with only a good long day shift. In addition to being federally inspected, the scales also get periodic inspection from the New Brunswick Department of Natural Resources to ensure it is in compliance with the Scalers Act. The DNR is required by the Scalers Act to inspect and confirm the operation of scales. Because of the assortment of wood products in the yard and available loaders, CVWPA also contracts with DNR to host scaling courses and testing.

CVWPA’s wood product specification list identifies eight New Brunswick mills and two U.S. mills purchasing spruce and fir as tree length, and stud and longlogs. Hemlock and tamarack is in demand by five New Brunswick markets and one American mill. For hardwood sawlogs, there is a handful of NB mills as well as sawlog and veneer markets in Maine and Quebec. The list offers one major market in NB for white pine sawlogs, but the list has potential to expand seasonally. Red pine lists two NB markets and one U.S. buyer. Cedar products are in demand from three NB mills and two U.S. markets. For hardwood pulpwood and OSB pulpwood shipped as tree length and log length, there are two NB markets and five U.S. mills competing for CVWPA production.

Bell points out that as the Canadian dollar has declined in relation to the U.S. dollar, shipping to mills paying in U.S. funds has gained a lot of interest, not surprisingly. She adds that the decline in the cost of diesel fuel has been an added bonus for producers and they are seeing better margins for their operations.

Bell explained that contractors in her region are looking for talent to fill the seats in their equipment. But the contractors looking for financing for timber harvesting and trucking gear are not exactly tripping over welcome mats at their financial institutions.

“Financing for forestry equipment is very difficult to obtain and that is having a certain impact on the ability for the harvest sector to gear up to meet the market demand,” she said.