Forestry and lumber businesses make the cut for a prosperous industry during the current economic downturn.
High Prairie Forest Products continues to thrive since the parent company West Fraser Timber Co. bought the former Buchanan Lumber in April 2014.
“It hasn’t affected us too much,” says Lee Barton, general manager. “We’ve just been forging ahead and we’ve been making it sustainable for the High Prairie plant.
“Lumber prices are getting better, and our production is improving weekly and monthly and getting better all the time.”
In October, HPFP plans to start up a new sorter/stack system in the saw mill to increase employee safety and production.
“We’re very excited about that project’ it is the largest project we’ve done on site,” Barton says.
A new weigh scale is also in progress.
“The reason we are doing so much improvement is because we want to be here a long time and make it sustainable,” says Tim Burns, woodlands manager.
A high percentage of wood from the High Prairie plant is sold across Canada, with some to Japan.
High Prairie Forest Products is the only stud mill in the operations of West Fraser Timber Co.
“It’s an important piece of the big business plan by West Fraser,” Burns says.
“We are getting more demand for our product and we have lots of wood fibre to use between our plant and the plant in Slave Lake.”
It’s also looking bright to get more contractors and employees, he adds.
Currently with about 150 employees, the company hires up to 300 year-round contract workers.
That is done through tree planting and other silviculture activities and logging and hauling logs in fall and winter.
HPFP continues to reach its long-term goal to expand the annual allowable harvest from 110 million board feet when West Fraser bought the business.