After 25 years as a lumber grader and several attempts at the championship, Tolko Industries’ Rachhpal Sahota captured the title of B.C.’s Top Lumber Grader for 2015.

“I finally got it,” a happy Sahota said Thursday, holding a framed certificate of the win. “It feels good.”

Sahota beat out close to 30 of the top lumber graders from across the province who competed in the 47th BC Lumber Grading Championship staged in Prince George on May 23.

Competing in both a practical and a challenging written exam, Sahota has competed 15 times over the last 25 years

In the last four years, he has increasingly moved up the ladder in the tough competition, placing fourth, second two times and now first.

“I am proud of my achievement. It’s taken a long time.”

Sahota began his career in the lumber industry with the former Khalsa Enterprises from 1981 to 1987 before taking a position with Tolko Lakeside Division Williams Lake (formerly Lignum’s) in 1987.

He became a lumber grader for the company in 1989.

“I’m proud to be employed by Tolko. They are a good company to work for.”

Jagdev Dhaliwal also of Tolko — Lakeview Div., Williams Lake came in second place and Naresh Parmar of CanFor — PG Sawmill was third.

In the Champion of Champions Division (past winners only) Dave Munro of West Fraser Mills Quesnel Division was the 2015 winner and scored the highest practical mark in the entire event at 95.5 per cent.

In the First Year Division (lumber graders attending for their very first time), Kara Mills of Tolko Industries Lakeview Division finished in first place and Lindy Simms of CanFor — Plateau Division was second.

Adding to Tolko’s bragging rights, the 2015 Corporate Team Winners were the Tolko Cariboo Connection team from Lakeview Division Williams Lake consisting of Rachhpal Sahota, Jagdev Dhaliwal and Kara Mills whose combined scores achieved the winning mark.

“One member company really stood out this year as Tolko Industries – Lakeview Div. Williams Lake took first place in both the Senior and First Year Category and also now have bragging rights to the 2015 Corporate Team Challenge Trophy,” said Gary Desrosier, Quality Control Manger of the Council of Forest Indutries (COFI).

COFI puts on the event every year.

“We are extremely proud of our Education Program at COFI and these type of results are just icing on the cake,” said Desrosier.

COFI will host next year’s event in Kelowna.