VANCOUVER SUN — A specialty products sawmill in Quesnel that fell into bankruptcy last summer will reopen at the end of this month after being taken over by Williams Lake-company Kandola Forest Products.
KFP president Neal Kandola said the mill — which turns lumber into engineered wood, wall paneling, shiplap, and glulam products — would rehire around 90 experienced workers in “high-paying, full-time positions.”
At its peak, former mill owner C&C Wood Products had 185 workers at the mill and in its logging and hauling division (Westside Logging).
C&C Wood Products fell into bankruptcy last June after two years of sustained losses. The specialty mill had been operating since 1977.
A local consortium called Quesnel Investment Corporation bought C&C’s assets then struck a deal with KFP to sell the mill operation – while keeping the logging business.
“Among those returning are several key employees who previously worked at the operation. To complement their talents, experience, and knowledge, additional management positions will be added,” Kandola said in a prepared statement.
“We are confident that we will restore the sawmill as a successful, stable, long-term employer and operator in the City of Quesnel, given the thoughtful and thorough due diligence we undertook in considering our purchase. Over the coming years, we will be exploring further investments that will increase our employment numbers to greater than previous peak numbers.”
It has been a mixed last year in lumber, with some mills closing, despite a huge jump in the retail and wholesale cost of lumber. The cost of a thousand board feet of lumber is around $1,000 compared to $500 this time last year.
“The rising costs of lumber is something that is very real and looks to not only stay but to increase this year,” Kandola said.
“Some people in the industry believe it can hit $1,600 (a thousand board feet) this year. Next year, people are quietly confident that we’ll see some normalcy.”
Quesnel lost one sawmill in 2014 when Canfor Corp. closed its facility there in a swap of timber rights with its rival, the Quesnel-headquartered West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd.
Forestry giant Tolko Industries permanently closed its Quest Mill in Quesnel in 2019.
In the past pandemic year, shares in Canfor have risen from $7.50 to $31.85.
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