Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

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Visit LSJ’s website at www.forestnet.com!

March/April 2020

CANADA’S TOP LUMBER PRODUCERS! MILLAR WESTERN STARTS its second century with mill upgrades LUSTED LOGGING: Going from farming to forestry in the B.C. Interior



CHRISTIAN ROY’S Ponsse equipment evolution in Quebec

FEATURES March/April 2020 Volume 51 • No. 2 Editor Paul MacDonald Contributing Editors Jim Stirling, Tony Kryzanowski George Fullerton Tech Update Editor Tony Kryzanowski Publisher/CEO Anthony Robinson • (604) 990-9970 E-Mail: robinson@forestnet.com Social Media: Kaitlin Davidson Digital Marketing: Diane Mettler Email: digitalmarketing@forestnet.com Sales Associates James Booth • (604) 506-8631 E-mail: jbooth@forestnet.com Perry Rosehill • (604) 613-3001 E-mail: rosehill@forestnet.com Subscription Enquiries Maureen Cole, Circulation Manager (905) 201-0853 Fax: (905) 294-8645 E-mail: SubscribeLSJ@forestnet.com Design & Art Production Manager Sheila Ringdahl E-mail: artwork@forestnet.com Accounting Manager Shelina Jessa • (604) 731-1535 E-mail: accounting@forestnet.com Office PO Box 86670, Suite 200 - 120 Lonsdale Ave. North Vancouver, BC V7M 2E8 Phone: (604) 990-9970 • Fax: (604) 990-9971 Website: www.forestnet.com Subscriptions: Canada $58 a year; two years $70; three years, $85. Group accounts, six or more subscriptions, $25 per subscription per year. Outside Canada, $95 per year. Airmail $165. Single copy, Canada $6; elsewhere $10. Reproduction prohibited without permission of the publisher. ISSN 0226-7572. Back copies from 1996 onward are available through our website www.forestnet.com Publications Mail Agreement No. 40064045 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to CIRCULATION DEPT. PO Box 86670 Stn Main North Vancouver BC V7L 4L2 e-mail: SubscribeLSJ@forestnet.com POSTMASTER: Send US address changes to LSJ Publishing Ltd., PO Box 610, Edmonds, WA 98020-0610 Published March/April 2020 Printed in Canada on 20% recycled paper.

“We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada” Logging & Sawmilling Journal is a member/associate member of the following industry organizations:

On the Cover: Alberta forest company Millar Western recently invested in a new Andritz 35-tonne overhead portal crane for the log yard at their sawmill in Whitecourt, and some $10 million into completely modernizing the Whitecourt planer mill. Investments have also been made in the Whitecourt sawmill’s primary breakdown line. Read all about the upgrade beginning on page 18 of this issue (Cover shot by Tony Kryzanowski).

4 Spotlight: Biofuel

projects planned for Alberta—and maybe Newfoundland

British biofuel company AEG has switched its focus to Western Canada and the U.S., but it is still interested in a biofuel plant for Newfoundland.

11 From farming to forestry ….

The Lusted Family started out in farming, but made the transition to logging back in 1995, and has grown significantly since then—these days it has upwards of 20 pieces of equipment to do harvesting work in B.C.’s southern interior.

18 Millar Western starts its second century ... with mill upgrades

Millar Western recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, and the Alberta forest products company has started its second century in business with a capital expenditures bang—by investing $36 million in its operations.

26 Canada’s Top Lumber Producers!

Logging and Sawmilling Journal’s annual ranking of Canada’s Top Lumber Producers, and industry outlook, co-ordinated with top ranked industry consultants Forest Economic Advisors (FEA).


Calendar.................................................8 Tech Update.........................................44

32 Equipment evolution

Christian Roy followed a steady path toward becoming a mechanized logging contractor, with his equipment evolving—his highly efficient harvest team now consists of two Ponsse Scorpion harvesters and a Ponsse Elephant King forwarder.


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

58 The Last Word

Canada has won the interim softwood lumber tariff fight, but a long term trade reset is needed, says Tony Kryzanowski. Suppliernewsline...............................54 Classifieds...........................................57 Subscriptions......................................57 Ad Index...............................................57

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020



Biofuel projects planned

for Alberta—and maybe Newfoundland

British biofuel company AEG has switched its focus to Western Canada and the U.S., but is still interested in a biofuel plant for Newfoundland. By Tony Kryzanowski


ritish biofuel producer Active Energy Group (AEG) Plc is still interested in building a biofuel production facility in Newfoundland. The plant is backstopped by two commercial timber permits (CTPs) it obtained for areas of the province’s Northern Peninsula in November 2018. “The Group is currently reviewing the optimal commercial strategy to develop its opportunities in Newfoundland,” the company said recently in response to questions posed by the Logging and Sawmilling Journal. “Recent conversations have presented complementary business opportunities for the Group, in addition to the CTPs. These are being examined with the aim to construct and install a CoalSwitch plant in the province.” However, the company’s focus now is on Western Canada and North Carolina. A B.C.-based company, RMD Environmentals, which is a wholly-owned business incorporated by First Nations Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, has paid AEG $2.4 million for the exclusive right for the sale and commercial development of opportunities to which CoalSwitch


technology may be applied in B.C. and Alberta for 20 years. AEG will also receive $5 (U.S.) per tonne of all licensed product that is produced by RMD Environmentals, its clients or partners, for those 20 years. Derrickson is also an AEG shareholder. RMD Environmentals says that it anticipates building its first CoalSwitchbased plant in Alberta within the next 18 months. AEG has also signed a deal to establish one of its CoalSwitch biofuel plants in Lumberton, North Carolina. According to the company, the site is to become the new base for all AEG’s CoalSwitch operations in the U.S. and house the first permanent production facility for CoalSwitch. Lumberton is a strategic location close to the American eastern seaboard in the heart of this lumber production region. The intent is to scale up biofuel production to 400,000 tonnes per year by 2021. CoalSwitch is the technology developed by AEG that it will use to manufacture biofuel pellets from wood fibre. In November 2018, AEG had proposed to produce between 55,000 and 65,000 metric tonnes of wood pellets annually using its CoalSwitch technology, with wood Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

pellets exported from the port at Hawke’s Bay to a customer in Poland. In its statement, AEG made no reference to the Newfoundland Northern Peninsula communities of Hawke’s Bay, where it had proposed to install a $19.7 million biofuel production plant, or Roddickton, where the company initially thought it might locate its plant, only to change its mind later for economic reasons. AEG has been granted two five-year commercial cutting permits to its subsidiary, Timberlands International (Newfoundland and Labrador) Inc (TIL), totaling 100,000 cubic metres annually from two Northern Peninsula Forest Management districts. These permits have a shelf life, as it has 2.5 years from November 2018 to remove 40 per cent of its allocation from the permitted area. The company has informed the Newfoundland government of its ongoing evaluation. “TIL (NL) has advised us that the company is in the process of updating its work plan, which will be provided in due

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The opportunity provided by AEG could be of significant value to Newfoundland loggers and sawmills because it essentially provides them with a market for their pulp wood material. AEG subsidiary Timberlands International has been granted two fiveyear commercial cutting permits totaling 100,000 cubic metres annually from two Newfoundland Forest Management districts. from page 4 course,” the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources informed LSJ. Another 48,000 cubic metres of wood fibre was to be provided to the AEG plant by local loggers. However, some have now threatened not to supply that volume to AEG, upset that the development was announced for the community of Hawke’s Bay instead of Roddickton, where a partially completed sawmill and pellet plant currently sits idle. In Winter 2019, some took to the streets with placards to express their dismay and fear that local sawlogs that could have been used to create local jobs at the incomplete and idled Roddickton sawmill might be shipped out of the area by AEG. CoalSwitch technology only proposes to use the non-merchantable and pulp wood fibre from the CTP area as its feedstock. According to the cutting permit agreement, half of the sawlogs harvested from these forest management areas have been allocated to the local sawmill industry while a final home for the remainder is still unresolved. While indicating a continued interest in Newfoundland as a whole for an investment, AEG has experienced the loss of Richard Spinks, a major proponent and negotiator for the company for the CTPs in the Northern Peninsula. He relinquished the role of Chief Executive 6

Officer, which has been assumed by Michael Rowan. Spinks stepped down as an Executive Director of the Group in October 2018. When contacted by LSJ, Spinks confirmed that he was no longer involved in AEG management. He has since resurfaced as a consultant to RMD Environmentals, and has worked closely with the company to facilitate its licensing deal with AEG. Spinks says whether a biofuel project ultimately proceeds in Newfoundland will be up to AEG. In an extensive interview from his home in the Ukraine, Spinks explained to LSJ why the decision was made during his tenure as CEO to move the biofuel plant from Roddickton to Hawke’s Bay. Because Roddickton already has a partially constructed sawmill and pellet plant originally proposed by a company called Holson Forest Products, it felt that it was first in line for the AEG development. Spinks says he had visited the community and met with local loggers on several occasions. However, ultimately, AEG chose nearby Hawke’s Bay, and although it was a better financial option for the company because of the availability of a staging site for their equipment right next to a port and offering better logistics for wood deliveries, it was not the initial reason why AEG opted for Hawke’s Bay over Roddickton. Spinks says that it was something entirely different and Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

unforeseen until close to the end of cutting permit negotiations with the province. The sticking point had to do with the money spent by the Newfoundland government to kick start the Roddickton sawmill and pellet plant project back in 2009. According to the Newfoundland government, there was a $10 million investment in Holson Forest Products of Roddickton, under the Forest Industry Diversification Fund of the Department of Natural Resources. The company received a $7 million non-interest term bearing loan to be repaid over a 15-year period, as well as a $2 million grant. The Department of Environment and Conservation also invested $1 million under its Green Fund toward the establishment of a wood pelletizing facility. However, this was not enough money to complete the facility, and Holson shut down in 2012. Spinks says that according to government officials involved in the latter part of cutting permit negotiations with AEG, this funding would be considered a subsidy. So lumber produced at the sawmill could not be exported to the United States under the terms of the now expired Softwood Lumber Agreement without it being considered a breach of the agreement. Given this restriction, it was not economically

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spotlight from page 6 viable for AEG to purchase and complete the sawmill and pellet plant to establish itself in Roddickton. “It became un-investible because it would be perceived as a subsidized plant,” Spinks says. Even though there was widespread local support for AEG’s plans for a biofuel plant and nothing but good faith negotiations between the Newfoundland government and AEG, “that particular plant became an issue.” He emphasizes that the government wanted it to work for Roddickton and directed the company to consider an investment there, but the government itself was blindsided by this subsidy issue. AEG then turned its attention to nearby Hawke’s Bay, primarily because it had a

location available to establish the company’s biofuel production equipment close to a shipping port. That raised the issue of what would happen to the sawlogs harvested by AEG within its CTP area. The concern of Roddickton area residents was that they would either be used by AEG in its CoalSwitch process or shipped outside the region. They wanted the sawlogs to be used locally, and preferably at the Roddickton sawmill. The sawlog allocation issue continues until now. Spinks says during his tenure in AEG management, the company had no intention of using the sawlogs, but would make them all available to the Roddickton sawmill, if it were to open, or on the open market, perhaps even on a trade basis— sawlogs for residual and pulp wood to feed their plant.

“I’m fully supportive of them getting that sawmill going,” says Spinks, “but we couldn’t do it.” He adds that the opportunity provided by AEG is of significant value to Northern Peninsula loggers and sawmills, because it essentially provides them with a market for their pulp wood material, which currently does not exist, to gain access to valuable sawlogs. “We were kind of a dream come true if you are a forestry operator in Newfoundland,” Spinks says, and everyone was keen to see the AEG biofuel project proceed. While AEG continues to evaluate its options in Newfoundland, it is under some time pressure as there is that requirement to harvest 40 per cent of its allocation from its permitted area by about the middle of 2021.


*Please note changes/cancellations due to the COVID-19 virus. March 17-18 ForestTECHx 2020 Richmond, BC 604-990-9970 www.foresttechx.events *Rescheduled to Sept. 1-2, 2020 April 1-3 Council of Forest Industries Annual Convention Prince George, BC www.cofi.org Cancelled April 7-9 Atlantic Heavy Equipment Show Moncton, NB www.masterpromotions.ca Cancelled April 30-May 2 BC Sawfilers AGM and Trade Show, Kamloops, BC www.bcsawfilers.com Cancelled May 7-9 Interior Logging Annual Conference and AGM, Kamloops, BC www.interiorlogging.org Cancelled

Using wood fibre harvested in Newfoundland, AEG had proposed to use its CoalSwitch technology to produce between 55,000 and 65,000 metric tonnes of wood pellets annually, with the wood pellets exported to a customer in Poland. 8

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

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From farming


The Lusted Family started out in farming, but made the transition to logging back in 1995, and has grown significantly since then—these days it has upwards of 20 pieces of equipment to do harvesting work in B.C.’s southern interior.


Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020


It’s quite possible the next generation of Lusted Family loggers could be in the works. Sometimes, Tom Lusted’s 13-year-old son, Aiden, joins him in the bush to see how the work is done.

By Paul MacDonald


he small B.C. Interior town of Cawston is mostly known for its agriculture—the sign heading into Cawston, on the Crowsnest Highway, says that the community is the organic farm capital of Canada, a title that has been well-earned by the many farms in the region. One of the town’s businesses, Lusted Logging, has also seen similar well-earned growth over many years, starting out with a single vintage John Deere 450 cable skidder in the 1990s, and operating these days with upwards of 20 pieces of equipment, and taking on increasing wood volumes along the way. Dave Lusted actually worked in the tree fruit industry before he started Lusted Logging, back in 1995. “A friend had some property, and wanted me to log some aspen and fir on it,” Dave explained. “I logged about 40 truckloads of wood there, with the Deere 450, working by myself.” From there, he moved to harvesting some mountain pine beetle wood, under special permits for the B.C. Ministry of Forests. “We did that for quite a few years, and then it came to an end,” he says. “I came to the realization that we had to get bigger—or quit the business.” Fortunately for his son, Tom, who now

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

heads up the business, and the company’s 12 employees, Dave opted to get bigger. “We started bidding on Timber Sales, and we won one for Gorman Bros. Lumber, and it worked out pretty well—and we’re still working for them, 24 years later.” Founded in the 1950s, family-owned Gorman Bros. is a major forest industry player in the Southern Interior of B.C., with a sawmill in West Kelowna, and other operations and extensive forestry tenures in the region. Dave noted that when Lusted Logging started working for Gorman Bros., Gorman’s total log purchase program at the time—around 90,000 cubic metres—was less than what Lusted Logging harvests for them now, underlining the growth in volume over the years. The Lusted Family has also set up T.L. Timber, a Cawston-based producer of milled log homes, log cabins and custom cut timbers and cants. Dave’s other son, Clayton, runs T.L. Timber. (Note: a feature story on T.L. Timber will be in a future issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal). “I’ve been very fortunate with Tom and Clayton,” says Dave. “I’m proud that they both have done so well. “I don’t agree with them all the time—

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Dave Lusted (above, left) started out Lusted Logging with a single John Deere 450 cable skidder in the 1990s, and these days Dave’s son, Tom, oversees upwards of 20 pieces of equipment, with the important support of their 12 employees.

from page 11 but sometimes you need to take a step back,” added Dave. “They need to make their own decisions.” Getting into the family logging business in the B.C. Interior seemed like a natural move for Tom Lusted. He started out operating equipment while still in his teens, and he had—and has—a natural aptitude for working on equipment. “I’ve never been afraid to take something apart, to see what makes it tick,” says Tom. And when he’s working on a piece of logging equipment, you can bet it ticks a lot better when he’s finished with it. Tom noted that when he was growing up, there was lots of equipment on the family orchard, so having machines around was a natural. “There were tractors on the farm, and when we started logging, I went out and helped where I could, and learned as I went along. You pick things up as you see other people working—you can always learn something if you’re watching and listening,” he says. Tom is operating logging equipment every day now—a recent day saw him in the cab of their John Deere 2154D log loader. “I can run any of the machines or do low-bed, so I can move around and fill in, if an operator has to take a day off.” Tom 12

has operated all the equipment they have, from loaders to bunchers to processors. These days, his father Dave mostly builds road, though he’s also spent many hours operating buncher. Tom readily admits he likes the challenge of running a logging operation, and resolving the sometimes knotty day-to-day problems. “There always seem to be challenges, and you have to figure out how to get around them, how to problem solve—and figure out new ways of doing things,” says Tom. It’s all about figuring how to adapt and change, and keep the logging operation going. “Usually there is some hurdle or obstacle—or something.” Both Tom and Dave noted logging can be all about managing change—whether it is changing weather conditions, changing terrain, or changing timber sizes. Their timber size is much smaller, for example, than it used to be, when they started out 20-plus years ago. “When I was farming, I thought then that the weather often does not treat you well,” says Dave. “But as a logger, you learn that bad weather can really mess things up, too.” There is no status quo in logging, they noted. It can be all about how to manage changes—and managing those changes quickly. Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

Incorporating new, more efficient, logging equipment can bring its own challenges, too, says Tom. “With bringing on a new piece of equipment, it might improve some efficiencies at one spot, but it might create a bottleneck somewhere else—and we have to deal with those.” A large part of their success as a logging operation is due to their employees, say Dave and Tom. “It’s very important to have a good crew,” says Tom. “A few years back, when the oil patch was booming, we were having trouble getting good people—it was quite a struggle. We didn’t have a hope in hell of competing with the oil patch, and its wages.” But things have cooled off in the oil patch since then—and perhaps the appeal of working in beautiful southern B.C. vs. barren northern Alberta could have something to do with attracting people. “We have great people now, and it makes a huge difference,” says Tom. The industry faces the challenge of an aging workforce, but Lusted Logging is fortunate that some of their employees are younger—as young as 25-years-old. “We have some younger guys that are good, and they’re eager to learn,” says Tom. “Logging is not easy work, but it’s an to page 14

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BClogging from page 12 opportunity to make a good living.” Both Tom and Dave say the industry has to do more to promote working in the woods as a career choice for women. They are very capable, and can actually be easier on equipment than guys, they say. And in terms of equipment, while it has some other brands of equipment, Lusted Logging pretty much relies on John Deere equipment, and B.C. dealer the Brandt Group, and Waratah processing heads. Waratah has used Lusted Logging to test out improvements to processing heads—and they are getting some top of the line operating talent, says Dave. “Tom is one heck of a processor operator,” Dave says, with pride. “Waratah has come up with updated computer processing systems, and they’ve asked Tom to run them, on a pilot basis.” Tom ran Waratah’s TimberRite measuring system through the paces. He said it was great to have direct input into changes to the system. The company’s connection to Waratah goes back quite a few years.


“Our first Waratah head was in June 2001—it was a used head and I mounted it and wired it on the machine myself,” recalls Tom. “It came with a new computer system—and I did not know what to do with it. But I phoned Dean Middleton at Waratah, and he helped me out over the phone. “I had to drive out to where the cell phone would work, call Dean, and write it all down, and then go back to where we were logging. But we were able to get the head up and running. I couldn’t believe how they took the time to talk me though things, even though I had bought the head used.” There have been, of course, new Waratah head purchases since then, and they have received the same top level service. “Anytime I have had problems, they have helped us out,” says Tom. Sometimes, he notes, they are able to offer some practical suggestions that don’t involve having to spend money—such as swapping coils, to determine where a problem might be. So just how reliable are Waratah heads? Well, Lusted Logging has a 622B Waratah head, serial number 001, which

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

has 14,000 hours on it. They purchased it used, with about 6,000 hours on it, in 2009. It’s on a Deere 2154D now, and serves as a back-up, for training. It’s done about 3,000 hours on the 2154D. Their main production equipment includes a Deere 959K and a 909K buncher, a Deere 2154G with Waratah 622C head, a Deere 2154D with 622C head and a Deere 2154D log loader. They also have a Link-Belt 240LX log loader stacker, a Link-Belt 210LX2 road builder, a Cat D5HTSK skidder, a Cat D7H road builder, and a Deere 772CH grader. Dave added that the margins are so slim in logging these days that contractors have to go with the suppliers who are going offer them top notch service, and keep them going. And the Brandt Group and Deere equipment do exactly that, say Dave and Tom. Price and equipment features play into what equipment contractors purchase, but the biggest consideration is service. If a contractor bought a machine from a dealer because they got a good price, or to page 16


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BClogging from page 14 good financing, any benefit would quickly disappear if that was not backed up with service. “Generally, the equipment being manufactured these days is great and highly productive—but eventually all equipment breaks down, and even brand new stuff can have problems,” says Tom. But they want supplier partners who will go the extra mile to get them back and working. “Brandt are really good about getting on things right away. If we need a replacement while they are dealing with our equipment, they don’t hesitate to supply us with something to keep us going. That’s why we are so loyal to them.” Lusted Logging does not have a scheduled replacement program for its equipment. This past spring, they had a fire with one of their skidders, an 848L machine, and replaced that, with a 948LII skidder. There is long term financing available for equipment, but they try to avoid that, says Dave. “There are loan schedules going out six or seven years, but we don’t want to go there,” he says. “You could get into a situation where you have repairs before the equipment is fully paid for. If you have to replace an engine for $50,000, and you still have payments, you can dig yourself a big hole.” They pick up the odd piece of used equipment—their Link-Belt machines were purchased used, as was a grader. “But our main core group of production equipment was bought new,” says Tom. “We try to buy production equipment brand new, and then upgrade as we go along.” And Lusted Logging, like all logging contractors, wants to be able to work when the work is available. With falling lumber markets, and high stumpage prices, a number of B.C. mills were shut down over the past summer, and that had a cascading effect on loggers. A phone call from the mill can shut down logging for weeks. So when contractors are able to log, they want to log as much—and for as long as they can. Essentially, they want to give ‘er, whenever they can. As part of that effort, equipment maintenance is done in the bush, wherever possible. “We try to do a lot of the work ourselves, and the crew pitches in and does quite a bit, doing oil changes, and helping me out with the bigger jobs,” says Tom. “We’ve done wrists on our buncher 16

A good part of the equipment line-up for Lusted Logging is John Deere, from dealer, the Brandt Group. Both Tom and Dave Lusted value the great equipment they get from Deere, and the high level service they get from the Brandt Group. heads, and saw blades and arbours.” They bought the tracks and pads to do the undercarriages on two machines in their shop, during break-up and fire season, and crew members helped out with that. “We want to keep our crew working.” Aside from the dealers, they also look to Loewen Equipment Manufacturing in Kamloops, to help them out with parts. In terms of the challenging situation the past year in B.C., Dave said that it’s ridiculous that stumpage prices lag the market so much. The high stumpage rates are being based on sky-high, year-ago lumber prices. The mill shutdowns, while they may be temporary, create a lot of uncertainty, he added. Dave says he was at a recent auction and a guy there wanted to buy another logging truck for his operation— but he decided not to, because of what’s going on in the industry. “I mean, maybe it’s good that the provincial government is making a pile of money these days from high stumpage rates, but if it puts people out of work, how good is that? “If you have the stumpage cost, the logging costs and trucking costs equaling the selling price of lumber before you have even milled it, the mills are pickled,” he added. The mills may take losses for a while, but at some point they curtail operations, as they have in B.C.—or even shut mills down completely. Dave added that logging contractors Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

have been hit hard by an increase in the cost of equipment over the last eight or so years. And while their rates have increased somewhat, they don’t reflect costs. “Logging rates don’t reflect the input cost for equipment and labor costs,” he says. “Rates have gone up, but not to the same degree as costs.” He said that Gorman Bros. have been good to work with, but added that it was important that the industry as a whole needs to have a healthy contractor sector. “The mills and forest companies need to make money—we get that. But we need to make money, too, or we can’t update our equipment and stay in business. It’s very frustrating.” Tom noted that over the time they’ve been in business, they’ve added equipment and built the business. “There was enough profit to roll it back into the business and buy additional equipment. But now, we’re at the point where we are just trying to stay where we are—there is no extra money to put down on a new piece of machine.” All that said, it’s quite possible the next generation of Lusted Family loggers could be in the works. Sometimes, Tom’s 13-year-old son, Aiden, will join him in the cab, to see how the work is done. So, in a few years’ time, a new generation could take controls at the equipment. Also helping out is Tom’s 17-year-old daughter, Kailey, who assists him in preparing Lusted Logging’s SAFE company audits.

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MILLAR WESTERN starts its second century... with mill upgrades


Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

Millar Western recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, and the Alberta forest products company has started its second century in business with a capital expenditures bang—by investing $36 million in its operations. By Tony Kryzanowski


lberta lumber, pulp and bioenergy producer Millar Western Forest Products has been experiencing a major revitalization as it celebrates 100 years since its founder, James William (J.W.) Millar, started the business in 1919. In 2019 alone, the company invested about $36 million into its operations. Millar Western Forest Products owns and operates two fully modern sawmills, a specialty wood products mill, a bleached chemi-thermomechanical pulp (BCTMP) mill and a bioenergy plant connected to the pulp facility. The company produces about 345 million board feet of dimension lumber annually at its sawmill in Whitecourt and another 120 million board feet at its mill in Fox Creek, with 65 per cent of its lumber sold in Canada, 35 percent in the United States, and five percent offshore. The Whitecourt pulp mill produces about 350,000 tonnes of pulp per year, for Asian, European and North American markets. The company employs more than 700 workers and is the largest employer in the Alberta communities of Whitecourt and Fox Creek. Recognizing it was nearing the limits of its ability to grow as a family-owned enterprise, the company elected in 2017 to enter into partnership with Atlas Holdings LLC. The equity firm acquired a majority stake in Millar Western’s forestry business, in a transaction that saw the company’s existing management structure, business approach, and corporate culture remain firmly in place. The Millar family retained both a significant ownership stake and

Company founder J.W. Millar (below, left) began Millar Western Forest Products with a blacksmith shop in North Battleford, Saskatchewan (below, right). Leading the recent effort to upgrade Millar Western Forest Products facilities were (above, left to right), Darcy Veillette, Operations Manager at the Whitecourt sawmill; Tom Thompson, General Manager, Wood Products; and, Dave Anderson, company CEO.

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sawmilling from page 19 participation in management, with Mac Millar, grandson of the founder, sitting on the board. Now backed by greater financial strength, Millar Western was in a solid position to launch a new phase of growth. Millar Western CEO Dave Anderson, who has been with the company for 15 years, says bringing Atlas Holdings into the picture in 2017 accomplished three goals. It helped to significantly reduce the debt

on their balance sheet; it enabled the company to invest significant capital into their operations; and it allowed them to explore new investment opportunities. In January 2018, the Edmonton-based company purchased value-added wood product manufacturer Spruceland Millworks, located in Acheson, just west of Edmonton. Then, they started a massive program of capital investments into their existing facilities in both Whitecourt and Fox Creek.

Of the Spruceland Millworks investment, Anderson says that Millar Western already had a well-established relationship of over 25 years with the company, as a green, rough lumber supplier. Company sawmills currently supply about 60 million board feet, or 12 per cent of their total sawmill production, to the Spruceland division. Spruceland’s main products are specialty items geared toward the do-ityourself (DIY) market, with products like decking, fencing, and smaller lumber dimensions. Their main customer is Home Depot. They also produce rigmats primarily for the oil and gas industry. Given the nature of Spruceland’s product line, its income is relatively stable compared to sawmills subject to the vagaries of the commodity lumber market, so the Spruceland addition has brought enhanced stability to Millar Western’s cash flow. On the capital side, Millar Western has invested $22 million into a new Andritz 35-tonne overhead portal crane for the log yard in Whitecourt, and $10 million into completely modernizing the Whitecourt planer mill, which now includes an Autolog fully automatic ProGrader lumber grading system. Investments have also been made in the Whitecourt sawmill’s primary breakdown line, such as a new Raptor Integration trimmer scanner. But they aren’t finished yet. Shortly, they will invest in a major upgrade to their Optimil canter line. Phase one will include replacing variable frequency drives, PLC and the setwork controls. Tom Thompson, General Manager for Wood Products, responsible for both Whitecourt and Fox Creek, notes that these investments have resulted in significant improvements. “With the planer project, we were able to increase our efficiency and productivity, and to reduce our costs,” says Thompson. “We have also improved our grade recovery quite significantly by going to our automatic grading system.” For Whitecourt’s log yard overhead crane installation in 2019, a significant amount of site work was required. Engineering the civil and crane rail installation and conducting on site management was Morrison Hershfield. Civil work was done by Kichton Contracting, with Thurber Engineering managing the geotechnical aspect of the project. Westar Aggregates supplied the aggregate material, while PNR Railworks installed the crane ties and

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Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

sawmilling from page 20

loader and then through a USNR infinite fence, past a machine-stress-rated system using an acoustic Falcon Engineering A-grader supplied by Autolog, and then through a new Mill Tech Industries trimmer and pusher/sorter. All controls were completed by Autolog. All mechanical demolition and construction was completed safely by Salem Contracting and electrical demolition and installation was handled by Milltron Electric. Project engineering was completed by Mel Hamanishi at SKS Engineering. Project management on both the crane installation and planer mill project was handled by owner Al Harrison, at Nanaimo-based Harrison Mills Systems Ltd. Millar Western’s Dave Anderson and Tom Thompson commended all suppliers involved for bringing both these major projects in free of any safety incidents. The projects are just the latest examples of Millar Western’s capital investments. At the Fox Creek sawmill, acquired in 2007 and rebuilt in 2011, the company has installed a new USNR lineal high grader. And at the pulp mill, located next to their Whitecourt sawmill, the company has recently built a bioenergy facility and

rail. Andritz supplied the 35-tonne overhead crane, and oversaw the crane construction. High Octane Welding worked on the crane installation and Team Power Solutions handled all electrical aspects related to the crane. The planer upgrade in Whitecourt was also completed in 2019. The front end of the planer mill was revitalized with a Mill Tech Industries tilt-hoist and infeed system. Wolftek supplied the electric drive conversion, feedworks, and tensioning system that were integrated with the existing planer. This component of the upgrade was essential to the success of the overall project, says Millar Western. With the company’s past history and excellent working relationship, selecting Wolftek as a vendor was an easy choice, says the company’s Tom Thompson. Wolftek again demonstrated their ability to supply and install industry-leading technology, with no issues and a smooth start-up, he added. It was installed on the 614 Stetson-Ross planer to increase speed and throughput, leading to the Autolog ProGrader. Graded lumber proceeds to the Carbotech lug



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Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

implemented pulping process optimization projects that have significantly reduced both greenhouse gas emissions and input costs. Building and investing for the future has been a strong theme throughout the company’s long history. Founder J.W. Millar established his first independent business, a blacksmith shop, in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, in 1906. In 1919, he incorporated Western Construction Ltd., which the company marks as the official start of the business now known as Millar Western. The company’s foray into logging and sawmilling in Alberta began in the winter of 1921-22, when Millar acquired a timber berth in the Whitecourt area, northwest of Edmonton. The expansion of Millar Western accelerated under the leadership of his sons, Hugh, Allan, and Keith. Grandsons Jim, Mac, and Ken then came on board to lead the company’s next growth phase, which included building Alberta’s first BCTMP mill in 1988. “When my grandfather came to Alberta all those years ago, he was drawn by the extensive resources and enterprising spirit of this province,” Mac Millar said during an event held last summer to celebrate the company’s centennial, adding that his grandfather would be proud to see his company of hard working people still going strong. Tom Thompson has been with Millar Western for almost a decade and says that he appreciates the family feel within the company, where every employee is valued and treated as part of the family. As one example, he notes the concern that the



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Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020



A reflection of Millar Western’s commitment to employee well-being is seen in its strong focus on safety. Over the past two years, the Alberta Forest Products Association has recognized exceptional company safety performance, with awards presented to the company’s Whitecourt sawmill, its Fox Creek sawmill, and its Whitecourt pulp mill.

from page 23 company had for the welfare of its employees during the staffing reduction arising from the planer mill upgrade, which was handled entirely through attrition.


The company’s commitment to employee well-being is most clearly shown in its strong safety focus. Last year, the company’s newly acquired Spruceland operation celebrated its first big safety milestone, marking a year of operation

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

without lost time accidents. Also in 2019, the Fox Creek sawmill passed a full year of operation without safety incidents of any kind—zero lost time, medical aids or first aids. Over the past two years, the Alberta Forest Products Association has recognized exceptional company safety performance, with awards presented to the Fox Creek sawmill, Whitecourt sawmill and Whitecourt pulp mill, an indicator of success that management credits to strong employee involvement in safety planning and programming. Staff input into all aspects of general operations is very welcomed—in fact, company management considers the ideas and contributions put forward by employees to be key to Millar Western’s longevity and success. “Most companies consider their employees to be their greatest asset, but Millar Western has the productivity data to back it up,” says Anderson. “As managers, our most important job is to support our people, and keep investing in the training, tools and technology they need to keep this company moving forward as we enter our second century.”

lumberproduction West Fraser has maintained its position as Canada’s Top Lumber Producer, with Canadian lumber production of 3.21 billion board feet in 2019.

Soft market

FOR SOFTWOOD LUMBER Lacklustre markets resulted in constrained production among Canada’s Top Lumber Producers in 2019, with soft U.S. demand for lumber—but the wild card for 2020 is going to be the impact of the COVID-19 virus on lumber demand and markets. By Russ Taylor


EA-Canada’s annual survey results of the “Top 10” Canadian lumber producers featured a tough lumber market that saw far more mill curtailments and closures than acquisitions in 2019. North American lumber prices were stubbornly low, a function of soft U.S. demand that caused higher-cost regions (especially the B.C. Interior) to curtail and close mills. There was only one smaller acquisition by North American companies during the year: Dunkley Lumber purchased two sawmills from C&C Resources. Of the Top 10, six Canadian producers recorded declines in output, a somewhat 26

similar trend to 2018. The total mill count of Canada’s Top 10 dropped by three mills versus the previous year.

North American shipments: down 4.2 percent

Total North American softwood lumber shipments were down in 2019 for the first time in a decade, declining by over 2.6 billion board feet (-4.2 percent) from 2018 (to 59.49 billion board feet from 62.12 billion board feet). However, lumber consumption growth finally occurred in the second half of 2019 from stronger activity in both U.S. housing and residential repair/remodelling, allowing for price increases as the year ended. Export Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

markets were unsettled, with U.S. exports down 21 percent (partly as a result of the U.S.–China tariff war). Canadian exports to the U.S. dropped by 7 percent (a substantial 1.3 billion board feet), leading total Canadian shipments to see a whopping 11.7 percent decline (-3.2 billion board feet) to 24.15 billion board feet.

Canada’s Top 10 lumber producers: down 10.6 percent

Canada’s Top 10 lumber producers witnessed a further decline in 2019 production to 13.9 billion board feet—a massive drop of over 1.5 billion board feet—as compared to production of 15.4 billion

lumberproduction board feet in 2018. However, the Top 10’s share of national output rose slightly, moving from 56.2 percent in 2018 to 57.4 percent in 2019. The drop in Canadian shipments is a function of supply, cost and market factors. The implementation of import duties to the U.S. took a hard bite out of Canadian mills’ margins, particularly in the B.C. Interior (with its escalating log prices and continued tightening of overall SPF timber supply). As a result of the duties and weaker sawmilling economics, Canadian lumber production plunged, with at least seven sawmills closing last year and dozens of others curtailing output. The top six Canadian producers in 2019—West Fraser, Canfor, Resolute, Tolko, J.D. Irving and EACOM—kept the same rankings as in 2018. These producers collectively accounted for 10.9 billion board feet (45 percent of total Canadian lumber output), versus 12.5 billion board feet in 2018. West Fraser retained top spot, but its Canadian output moved substantially lower to 3.21 billion board feet (-15.3 per cent) at 12 mills (its Chasm, B.C. mill was closed). Canfor remained second with 2.76 billion board feet, recording a large output decline of almost 800 million board feet (-22.3 per cent) at its 12 western Canadian mills (the largest volume decline of the Top 10 Canadian to page 28

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lumberproduction from page 27 (and U.S.) mills); the company closed its mill in Clearwater, B.C. Resolute stayed at #3 but output at its eight mills dropped by 115 million board feet (-6.2 per cent to 1.73 billion board feet). Tolko, at #4, saw its output fall by 151 million board feet to 1.30 billion board feet (-10.4 per cent). Finally, at #5, J.D. Irving reported 953 million board feet of output (+0.3 per cent) at its seven mills (it was the only company in the Top 5 to record an increase, replicated from 2018). The four largest North American softwood lumber producers (West Fraser, Canfor, Weyerhaeuser and Interfor) have operations in both the U.S. and Canada. Collectively, they produced 17.42 billion board feet (29.2 per cent of total North American lumber output) at 93 sawmills in 2019. The wild card for 2020 is the global impact of the COVID-19 virus, and a recovery is going to take time. The potential ramp-up in offshore lumber exports (especially from Germany and Sweden) is another question mark, as are further

lumber production increases from new mills in the U.S. South. These topics will be examined at length at our tenth annual Global Softwood Log and Lumber Conference in Vancouver, currently scheduled for June 17–18, 2020. Russ Taylor is Managing Director for FEA Canada (WOOD MARKETS) based in

Vancouver. International WOOD MARKETS Group was purchased by Forest Economic Advisors LLC (www.getfea.com) in August 2017 and now operates as FEA Canada. The company survey for the Top Lumber Producers was done by Chari Gimenez.

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Quebec's Christian Roy followed a steady path toward becoming a mechanized logging contractor, with his equipment evolving—his highly efficient harvest team now includes two Ponsse Scorpion harvesters and a Ponsse Elephant King forwarder. By George Fullerton


hristian Roy’s career path to mechanized harvesting contractor business Foresterie Yeti Inc., has been a steady evolution. Roy started out tree planting as a teenager in high school, and then worked seasonally as a thinning saw operator on pre-commercial thinning operations around his home in Amos, Quebec, and then trained to become a harvester operator. Roy continued his education, including three years studying geomatics in Gatineau, Quebec. In 2000, he completed the harvester and forwarder operator program at Commission scolaire Harricana in Amos. With his qualifications in hand, Roy became a harvester operator for Frejo Inc., which was owned by brothers Gaston and Gaétan Bérubé from Senneterre, Quebec. He operated a Rocan Enviro with serial number 001. 32

“These two men became a model for me and I knew right away that I would become a forestry contractor one day,” says Roy. They were working then in first thinnings for Materiaux Blanchet, on Crown lands. The Enviro was a small harvester built in Moncton, New Brunswick, using mostly parts off the Rottne shelves. The four wheel harvester, with a small Log Max head, was purpose-built for early commercial thinning. The harvest system the Bérubé operation followed consisted of main harvest/forward trails, with two ghost trails in the strip which piled wood out to the main trails. “Two years later, Frejo gave me the opportunity to make my dream come true—they sold me the Enviro,” says Roy. “I started my very first thinning contract for Tembec La Sarre. At the time, I also bought a Neuson 11 tonne and two Neuson 20 tonne harvesters. Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

“When I started my company doing pre-commercial thinning in 1999, I was really into mountain biking. I loved the Yeti bike brand and I thought forestry sounded well with Yeti—two things I loved. That’s how I ended up naming my company.” The Yeti moniker has continued as the business turned to mechanical harvesting. In 2011, Roy made a trip to Sweden and visited the EcoLog Factory, and selected a 560D harvester; it was the first of that model to be imported into Canada. And in 2014, Roy responded to an invitation from Jean Trottier, owner of equipment dealer Hydromec in Dolbeau, Quebec. “Jean invited me on a group trip to the Elmia Wood forestry show, because he knew I was looking to buy a forwarder,” Roy explained. “Later, we visited the Ponsse factory in Vierma, Finland, and I made a deal on a Buffalo HD forwarder.

Quebeclogging Team Ponsse: Christian Roy with sons Xavier (right) and Jacob.

Team Ponsse hits the bike trail

“With that introduction, I became a Ponsse ‘family’ member, and I then bought a Fox, two Scorpion Kings, a Scorpion and I was the first to own an Elephant King with active frame in Canada.” Since his initial Ponsse purchase was through Hydromec, based in the Lac St. Jean region, Trionex, based in Amos, has become a sub dealer, and has provided sales and service closer to Roy’s base. Trionex has provided machine shop, welding, hydraulic and pneumatic services to the forestry, mining, wood processing mills and other industries throughout northwest Quebec and northeast Ontario for more than 40 years. Roy’s current harvest team consists of two Ponsse Scorpion harvesters and one Ponsse Elephant King forwarder. One Scorpion operates double shift and the second operates a single shift, while the Elephant King works double shift to move harvester production to roadside. Roy noted that the Scorpion provides a number of advantages compared to the Fox harvester. “The visibility is one of the biggest advantages for operating in thinnings, but

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Logging contractor Christian Roy is a man who dedicates a good deal of passion to his family, as well as his community and his business. One of his early passions was bicycle racing, which became ingrained in him when he was 10-years-old, when he entered his first road race. When he was eleven, he became the Quebec Peewee (road race) Champion. When mountain bike racing became popular, Roy hung up his road bike and shifted his passion to mountain bike racing. He competed in regional mountain bike racing Quebec Cup events through college, and continued until his first son, Xavier, was born. Racing took a hiatus as Roy and his wife, Claudia Duchenes, focused on building their home, building Foresterie Yeti and adding a second son, Jacob, to the family. When Xavier turned seven, he began competing in the Quebec Cup. Since the family was attending sanctioned events, Roy tuned up his Yeti racer and also began competing in Quebec events. The family raced at events in Mont Tremblant, Sherbrooke, Quebec City, Baie St. Paul and St. Felicien. Roy’s personal race career achieved a highlight in 2017, when he became the Quebec Cup Champion in the Sport Masters Class. Second son Jacob also caught the competition bug, and was two time Quebec Cup Champion in 2016 and 2018, in his class. Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

In 2018, at 16, Xavier competed for the second year in the cadet class. In addition to competing in Quebec races, the family also attended races across Canada. In July 2018, at Canmore, Alberta, Xavier won the points chase and became the Canadian Cadet Champion. “Mountain bike racing at Xavier’s level is new here in Abitibi-Témiscamingue,” explains Roy. “Xavier is the only junior mountain bike racer here. We had to find a way to help us cover the fees for the bike, the traveling, the races, bike parts, fixing, tools and so on. “We have come to love the branding, the colors and the philosophy of Ponsse, and we thought that Ponsse would make a great match with our family race team. Ponsse’s values are really close to our family’s values: discipline, hard work, respect and performance. “Jean Trottier, owner of the Hydromec (Ponsse) dealership, and Antony Drapeau, an owner of the Trionex dealership, had become friends with our family through the years, and they were both very enthusiastic about supporting our team.” The Ponsse mountain bike race team was born in the spring of 2019. In June 2019, Xavier repeated the Canadian Championship win and it qualified him to compete in the World Junior Championship, which were held in Mount Ste. Anne, Quebec, this past summer, on August 29th—on Christian’s birthday. “That’s the best gift a bike-dad could expect,” says Roy, with great pride. 33

Quebeclogging from page 33 I also love the extra power, the technology and the ergonomics of the Scorpion,” he says. “It’s hard to make a comparison on fuel consumption since the Fox has a 200 horsepower four cylinder engine, while the Scorpion has a 285 hp six cylinder engine, but I consider the Scorpion to be well out in front.” Currently, about 80 per cent of the contracts Foresterie Yeti works are in first and second thinnings. They also do other sorts of partial cut harvesting and their work continues right through the winter with significant snow loads. Recently, Foresterie Yeti was operating in Reserve Faunique La Verendrye, a conservation area. Their objective was a first thinning in a 35-year -old jackpine plantation, to enhance growth and increase habitat features for wildlife and other conservation values. Wood products generated by the thinning were nearly an even split between stud wood and pulp. The stud logs were destined for the Eacom Timber sawmill in Val -d’Or. Quebec Natural Resources personnel monitor the thinning operation, and work directly with Yeti operators and the company’s forest technician to review operating practices and the criteria for the finished job. Dominic Latendresse works as forest technician for Foresterie Yeti. He does block layouts, including watercourse setbacks. Latendresse flags the operating trails and transfers the maps and data on stand density and other attributes to the GPS in the harvesters. Roy underlined that having the maps and stand data in the harvesters is a very important tool for the operators, allowing them to operate productively and to meet the particular silviculture goals. Latendresse follows up with Ministry staff on particulars of the completed work. Once the harvesters have completed thinning work, the maps with the harvested trails are transferred to the forwarder, which helps guide the operators, and gets all the wood moved efficiently to roadside. One of the unexpected highlights visiting the Foresterie Yeti operation was to get a personal tour of the service truck. The truck is certainly one of the best examples of a highly detailed, highly organized and highly efficient design. “For 10 years I had been looking at different kinds of service trucks on the internet, mostly in Europe,” says Roy. “I took 34

Christian Roy (above, left) with Trionex sales rep Samuel Dennis-LaRocque in Foresterie Yeti’s very impressive, highly detailed, highly organized service truck. “With a well-designed service truck, you don’t lose your tools, and you don’t lose time searching for tools and parts,” says Roy. “Everything has its place and everyone is happy.” notes and pictures, then I started making my own plans. In 2015 I bought the truck, a 2009 Kenworth T800 with thirty foot insulated box. I made the interior myself, which took two months of work.” Roy brought borrowed ideas and his experience working with a couple of service trailers in the past. “With a well-designed service truck, you don’t lose your tools, and you don’t lose time searching for tools and parts,” he says. “Everything has its place and everyone is happy.” The truck interior, with custom cabinets, is painted blue. Most used tools hang from peg boards, with identification for the particular tool with a yellow background shadow, which helps ensure the tool gets back to its assigned spot. There is no excuse not to put a tool back in its place, and similarly no reason not to expect a tool is in its place when it is sought out. The automatic chain sharpener is in its own cabinet with closing door. The truck is heated by a bunk heater. Specialty and sensitive test tools are in foam, in drawer cabinets. Hose supply and assembly is contained in a separate clean compartment. There is a metal detector on hand to help locate dropped parts, tools, and other items, whether it is lost in snow or dirt. If there was a competition for spiffy service trucks, Foresterie Yeti would be running with the leaders. Foresterie Yeti takes contracts over a wide territory in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region, and has three trailer camps for the crews to stay in through the week. Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

Roy built the camps on fifth wheel trailers. The forty- and thirty-four foot trailers house three operators and the twenty-foot trailer is used by Latendresse because his work schedule is unique, compared to the operators. When operations are within one of their bases in Amos, the crew will commute from their homes. Roy estimates that for about 30 per cent of their operating season, the crew will commute from their homes. The trailers provide satellite/internet service, as well as cellular and TV. Roy and his wife, Claudia Duchenes, dedicate a good deal of time and effort to the community of Amos. Foresterie Yeti is a sponsor of the hockey team, the cross country club and mountain bike team. Roy helps with the mountain bike training in the summer, and the family helps organize the annual mountain bike race in Amos every year. In the winter, Roy dedicates time to the cross country ski club, doing maintenance on the groomer and helping out the operator. Roy and Claudia, who works as a first grade teacher, also dedicate a good deal of energy to their sons’—Xavier and Jacob—mountain bike racing careers (see sidebar story). And he knows he can rely on his employees, whether he's on the ground in the bush, or off site in a business meeting. "I have great confidence and trust with my employees," says Roy. "While I'm away on business or family events, I know they are working productively. They are professionals, and they all work hard to meet our production and quality goals."

Pekka Hakkarainen is one of the first Ponsse machine

Synne Henriksen, is a new generation forestry machine operator, working

entrepreneurs. In the early stages of their business, Pekka’s

with Ponsse machines in Norway. She is working with both, harvesters

company forwarded wood to the roadside with Ponsse PAZ.

and forwarders full of enthusiasm and professionalism

Originated from forest machine entrepreneur Einari Vidgrén´s dream to build the best forest machine in the world, Ponsse will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year. These five decades have had a major impact on the development of mechanized forestry worldwide. We will continue to work with a true Ponsse spirit and know-how towards more productive and environmentally friendly forestry solutions. What is most important, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this alone. Work has always been done with you - together. Humble thanks for that.

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achieving better wood utilization— with a light touch

Logging contractor Ian Kerr is working with smaller Canadian and European logging equipment to thin the forests of B.C.’s West Kootenays region, leaving a light footprint—and achieving better wood utilization.


Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020


A significant equipment addition in Acreshakerr Contracting’s move to commercial thinning was a five-ton capacity F4 Dion tracked forwarder.

By Paul MacDonald B.C. logger Ian Kerr is working with the Neuson 103HVT steep slope harvester equipped with an AFM 45 White Line processing head, in carrying out commercial thinning projects.


ogging contractor Ian Kerr has seen part of the future of forest management in British Columbia—and it involves using smaller pieces of logging equipment. In fact, Kerr is working with that smaller logging equipment right now. Over the last several years, Kerr’s company, Acreshakerr Contracting Ltd, based in Creston, in southeastern B.C., has been working with a combination of Canadian and European logging equipment to carefully thin the forests of the West Kootenays region. As Kerr sees it, one of the biggest issues the forest industry is dealing with right now is climate change. “Our landscape in B.C. from the Rocky Mountain Trench to the Western shores of Vancouver Island and north up the continent, is all under threat from accelerated climate change,” he says. B.C. is fast approaching a tipping point where it could soon be suffering from continuous wildfires, further job and mill losses, water and wildlife degradation, and air quality issues, says Kerr. ​“But if municipalities, regional districts, provincial and federal governments along with our Indigenous nations and the forest industry, work together cohesively and quickly, we can limit the effect of this disruption and work to bring back a balance.” ​Kerr and the Acreshakerr team have focused a great amount of resources and time developing, sourcing and importing the right equipment for the delicate task

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

of maintaining the forest ecosystem, all the while lowering wildfire risks in and around B.C. communities. “It’s an ongoing challenge that pushes our limits and pushes our ingenuity,” says Kerr. “But it’s through these challenges that we’ve created an accountable, results driven, professional approach to forest fuel reduction treatments, true selective harvesting and timber land management.” ​By adapting long-practiced Scandinavian harvesting and forest interaction methods, Acreshakerr is practicing what Kerr believes is the most comprehensive, low impact type of forestry work in B.C. “We pride ourselves with our light touch on the land, our ability to build back soils and resilient timber stands and care for the remaining timber while we are in the treatment areas working our equipment,” says Kerr. “We can deliver a final product that suggests no one or no equipment has entered the forest and removed understory brush, smaller diameter logs and thinned an area of forest to create canopy openings.” Initially, Kerr set up Acreshakerr to do conventional handfalling and skidding work, and doing arboriculture, with a residential/commercial tree service business. Kerr is, in fact, a certified tree surgeon. That arboriculture approach, with its focus on tree selection, and preservation, prepared them well for the commercial thinning work they are doing now. Several years back, he was approached to page 38 37


from page 37 by the Creston Community Forest to do a fuel mitigation project, and to execute a fuel management prescription, using his crew, skidder and wood chippers. “It was very dense, basically 1,000 stems to the hectare, and very multi-stage growth,” he explains. Kerr took on the project, and he notes that their Cat 518 line skidder did a capable job. But he was intent on finding equipment that would be a better fit, with the retention trees, and maintaining the microbial base of the forest floors. Kerr believed he knew what would do the job, but needed the support of the

community forest to make the investment in new equipment. They agreed on logging rates, and a timeline to do the work with the new equipment, and Kerr went to work securing it. First, he traded in their chipper, for a larger Bandit rubbertired chipper. Working with Bandit Industries dealer Radius Industrial Works in North Vancouver, and owner Bruce Larsen, it was suggested that a Bandit 12XP tracked chipper would work well. Kerr special ordered the 12XP with a winch and a heavy duty feed table to allow mechanical feeding of logging slash with his Kubota mini excavator. This method works but there is a possibility to put stones in the chipper,

and cause knife damage. So Kerr prefers they hand feed it to prevent any damage. “It’s a remote controlled unit, and very stable on slopes and difficult terrain,” he says. Larsen recommended the larger Cat 125 hp diesel engine for Acreshakerr’s needs. “Bruce was bang on with this suggestion of chipper and engine,” says Kerr. “It’s a very robust unit, easy to perform daily services, and chips wood like a champ. It’s on a Cat 303 mini excavator chassis with rubber tracks, so I can still do residential tree care clean up should the situation arise.“ Chipping this woody debris has several benefits to the client and the forest ecosystem in general, he notes. Chipping provides ground cover to suppress weeds and regrowth of unwanted brush, small invasive plants and re-gen of otherwise not wanted species. At the same time, it provides ground cover that holds moisture and is a slow release nutrient cycle while breaking down naturally. A significant equipment investment in the move to commercial thinning was purchasing a five-ton capacity F4 Dion tracked forwarder, produced by Enterprise F4 Dion in St. Augustin, Quebec.

Corbilt Group of Companies includes Wrangler Engineering Ltd and Corbilt Welding & Fabrication Ltd. who specialize in the design, manufacturing, and installation of equipment for the Forest Industry.

Our VDA Outfeed eliminates the need for perimeter guarding due to its 100% contained modular design. Our system also captures and eliminates the sawdust spray from the clusters. The internal design of our structure reduces flitch hang-ups and jamming. The built in doors allow for easy inspection and maintenance.

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Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

The company has been producing the forwarder since the 1960s, and there are an estimated 330 in use in North America. A number are also in use in France and Italy, where they are used for forest maintenance, and smaller harvesting work. But Kerr is breaking new trail with his operation; the other Dion forwarder owners had not used the equipment for exactly the extremely careful timber extraction work he is now doing. Kerr visited the Dion factory in Quebec, and was impressed by what he saw. “We arranged to get some winches put on the F4 forwarder here and there—and they shipped it out in the winter of 2017, and we put it to work. “It made it a lot easier, and we did not have tree retention damage or soil disruption. I did not even have a landing any more—we had an access road where a truck could back in and that was all we needed because we could deck the wood at roadside. “The forwarder is narrow and robust and efficiently handles the logs we encounter throughout our treatment,” says Kerr. “It’s multi-use as well, providing mobilization of our on-site suppression equipment to protect the forest and the workers should a fire break out.” Word travelled around the Kootenays region about the forwarder, and Kerr found himself also doing work on private land in in the area. “There are a lot of environmentally conscious people in the area, and they have some very dense lands—some with 2,000 to 3,000 stems per hectare. It’s overgrown, and the landowners realized the fire threat they have. After they heard

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Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020



Acreshakerr Contracting owner Ian Kerr said he is extremely pleased with his investment in the Dion and Neuson/AFM equipment, and believes there will be more of this type of forward thinking equipment in use in B.C. in the future. This is especially so, he says, as the amount of wood in B.C. has been so affected by the mountain pine beetle attacks and extensive forest fires. from page 39 about and saw our work, they reached out to us.” Essentially, these were people embracing the thinning concept and restorative forestry, which is what Acreshakerr does, he said. It has a commitment to leaving forests in an improved and resilient condition post-treatment. “We take pride on our dedication to leaving the land in a betterthan-found state,” says Kerr. ​After they worked with the Dion forwarder for a while, Kerr realized they had to mechanize their harvesting operation, and move away from handfalling. “We put together some more money, put a business plan together and I carried on the hunt for a European/Scandinavian small scale, highly productive harvesting system.” He looked at a number of units in Sweden that he says were well built and efficient, but he decided they were too small. “They wouldn’t cater to our timber type or our terrain in B.C.” He then explored the Austrian-built Neuson Forest equipment, which has a Quebec-based dealer, Marquis Equipment. “I found the Neuson 103HVT steep 40

slope harvester was exactly what I wanted.” The Neuson Forest 103HVT (Tilt) is designed for thinning work, and to be high performance and reliable. With production up to 16 cubic metres per hour, it’s said to be a solid performer in the field of first and second thinning. It offers good stability thanks to a low center of gravity and good ground clearance. The Neuson steep slope harvester/ processor is unique to this corner of the world, says Kerr. It boasts a very small footprint of 8.15 feet wide, has a zero tail swing carriage design, and long reach boom for trail-less harvesting. All controls and parameters are fully customized on the fly, with real time blue tooth data uploading, volume and species indexing and full scale processing. Kerr notes he has the ability to rotate the cab 360 degrees, and harvest out to 30 feet, which means less travel. The 32,000 lb machine has 2.5 feet of undercarriage clearance, and tilt up to 25 degrees. “It has full range—I can side slope with it, I can steep slope with it. “The way Neuson built the boom, and the way the head works with it, everything is intuitive. We can offer our customers an incredibly gentle touch, and also be highly productive in our fuel treatment and harvesting projects,” notes Kerr. Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

And it’s tough. “I was skeptical initially about the guarding and the supports on the Neuson, but the body work is all just over a 1/4–inch thick—I’ve had treetops bounce off the machine, and nothing has happened,” he added. With the AFM head, with its four cutter knives, he can process wood ranging in size from 1.5 to 21 inches. “It does a beautiful job, all day long. It can be up to a 21 inch tree, and I can just give ‘er. I can track production per stem, per cut, per species, per day, per taper.” He added that the machine is very easy to service, and troubleshoot. “It’s really easy to diagnose issues without analyzing the computer or popping the cover.” That really is key, he says. Kerr is really speaking for all loggers when he notes that forestry and logging is not the ideal environment to have a huge dependency on electronics and microprocessors. Equipment needs to be built tough, and perform every day. He noted that Neuson and AFM have stayed away from overly complicating their equipment. And parts, he added, are very easy to get, from the dealer, Marquis Equipment. The only suggestion Kerr said he would to page 42

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BClogging from page 40 have is that there could be some more engine options with the Neuson, which comes with a John Deere 4045, which he said is fine. “Offering other engines would give you the option to pair it up with a different power plant.” Kerr notes that they now have an equipment line-up that is small, light, quick and efficient. It is highly mobile, and all track driven.

The Neuson harvester allows him to be more efficient with the forwarder. Increased optimized wood volumes are recoverable using the cut-to-length method employed by Kerr, and the forwarder can make its way through the forest without dragging the wood, and without rubbing the remaining retention trees. “We don’t need any constructed trails or skid roads, and can climb otherwise unsafe slopes without losing traction and scarring the forest floor.

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Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

“I have a photo of my boot on where the track of the forwarder has travelled, and I can’t even step into the ground— the forwarder footprint is that light. It’s just a totally different experience with the rubber-cleated track of the forwarder.” He combined the Neuson with an AFM 45 White Line processing head. Kerr travelled to Quebec, to finalize the installation of the AFM head on the Neuson harvester. “When it arrived in B.C., I started a week of training, doing some cutting on a friend’s property, just feeling the machine out, checking out the harvester/head combination.” There was no tweaking required, he says. “You just need to make sure the hydraulic flow of the harvester matches the demand of the AFM head—but it was all tailored, and the math was done.” Neuson and AFM had already done the homework, and had tested the equipment combo. Kerr has since built the awareness of the high production thinning they are now able to do, including utilization of material for slash or pulp chips. “We can turn that into revenue now—that is not an option we had before.” On a past BC Parks project, Acreshakerr partnered with Wayne Armstrong of Atco Wood Products of Fruitvale, B.C. Together they reviewed and measured the utilization as compared to traditional harvesting, and they found up to 32 per cent better fibre use, especially with blowdown recovery. “The AFM head is built to realize profitability in under-utilized stems, which it delivers seamlessly,” he says. Kerr said he is extremely pleased with his investment in the Dion and Neuson/ AFM equipment, and believes there will be more of this type of forward thinking equipment in use in B.C. in the future. This is especially so, he says, as the amount of wood in B.C. has been so affected by the mountain pine beetle attacks and extensive forest fires—with sawmills shutting down due to a lack of fibre. The major forest companies, he notes, are investing outside of B.C. due to what they say is the lack of fibre. But the fibre is there, Kerr says—it just needs to be harvested differently. “Just because the major companies don’t want to do thinning in their woodlands, that does not mean that it can’t be viable.” And Kerr and Acreshakerr are proving that, day in, day out.



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Horizontal Grinders


The question, according to Rawlings, is whether a cookie cutter or custom horizontal grinder is better? During the company’s 44 years designing wood waste grinding systems, Rawlings has found that most of its clients are looking for a system that fits their budget as well as their application when making purchasing decisions. Not all machines are created equal and most models that come off the factory floor are duplicates of the same machine, the company says. Rawlings offers a complete line-up of stationary electric-powered vertical and horizontal grinders in a full range of sizes and models. Each system can be designed with work platform decks, choice of belt, chain or vibrating infeed and outfeed conveyors, metal protection, and product screening and separation, all of which can be customized for specific operations. www.wastewoodhogs.com


Morbark recently debuted its 2400X and 3000X Wood Hog horizontal grinders. Both machines can be equipped with tracks (XT models), and the 3000X can be built as a fifth wheel/dual-axle unit or pintle hitch/tri-axle unit (3000XP). Ideal for niche markets like pallet recycling, sawmills, nurseries and tree care debris, both grinders are said to be perfect for processing yard waste, brush and other mixed woody feedstock into saleable product. Designed to be modular and available in multiple configurations for various applications, Morbark says

that these grinders can take a business to the next level. The standard width of both grinders puts them within the legal transport width in any country. The 2400X comes standard with a 188 horsepower electronic diesel engine, while the 3000X has engine options from 350-577 horsepower. Both are available with electric power. www.morbark.com

Continental Biomass Industries

Continental Biomass Industries (CBI) recently premiered its Magnum Force 6400CT horizontal grinder and chipper. The 6400 is an extreme duty machine, engineered for resilience and high production when grinding whole trees, pallets, storm debris, logs, mulch, slash, and stumps. The new cassette-style clam shell design allows end users to completely swap out rotors faster than any other grinder in its class, says CBI. Operators can go from grinding to chipping in half the time as before, and accept jobs with various material demands. Four interchangeable rotors give this horizontal grinder the versatility needed to stay on top of changing markets, says the





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Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020


company. The 6400 can be converted into a whole tree chipper by installing the 2-pocket or 4-pocket rotor to produce fuel chips and microchip feedstock for producing wood pellets. For forestry debris and mulch processing, the forged drum rotor with 4” hammers and reversible tips provides top performance and maximum production. The newest Magnum Force grinder is the 6400CT-SE, which is now available as a stationary electric unit. The Magnum Force product line is available at these Canadian dealers, websites below. www.frontline-machinery.com www.brunettemc.com www.alpaequipment.com

Diamond Z Manufacturing

Diamond Z Manufacturing recently introduced its new Diamond Z DZH7000TKT horizontal grinder. The company says that this model is a significant development, describing it as the

largest horizontal grinder available today, featuring the toughness and innovation that only a Diamond Z grinder can provide. Diamond Z Manufacturing says that it is a high-production machine that can tackle any challenge. www.diamondz.com


For 30 years, Rotochopper has been turning wood waste into profitable opportunities. Many of these opportunities can be found within the logging and sawmilling industries. With up to 1050 horsepower, the Rotochopper B-66 L-Series and Rotochopper B-66 high-volume grinders efficiently process logging residue, cull logs, and whole trees, to deliver premium products like landscape mulch, playground cushion, fuel, and animal bedding. The Rotochopper FP-66 is said to be uniquely scaled to the needs of forestry operations, packing high-volume features into

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

to page 46



from page 45 a mid-sized grinder. Rotochopper says that its grinders are easy to operate and versatile, on tires or crawler tracks, wherever a customer needs to grind wood waste. The SB-24 E features an infeed and grinding chamber specially designed to efficiently process pliable slabwood, bark, and other feedstocks. www.rotochopper.com


Featuring a powerful five-wheel feed system, the model 3090 takes Bandit’s unique Slide Box Feed System to the next level of power. This high-volume, 24” capacity chipper features a 30” by 36” throat opening, allowing it to pull in, crush and compress whole trees and forked branches with ease. It’s available with a standard or micro chip drum for biomass applications. www.banditchippers.com


The Vermeer HG6800TX horizontal grinder offers a high horsepower engine on a tracked machine with a compact design. Featuring 950 hp in a 92,000-lb class, and an infeed design designed specifically for feeding larger materials such as whole trees

Bandit Industries says that its whole tree chippers throw chips with tremendous velocity, fully packing the largest trailers without the need for power-robbing auxiliary chip throwers. Even outfitted with a dedicated micro chip drum producing ¼” micro chips, Bandit whole tree chippers are able to fill trailers faster while producing a better end product. Customers can choose from disc or drum-style, with capacities ranging from 18” to 36”.

and large stumps, the new grinder is built to power through tough materials with less operator interaction, according to the company. www.vermeer.com


The stationary, electric Peterson 5050H delimber debarker disc chipper produces high quality low bark content chips for wood pulp and pellets, processing whole trees in one continuous operation. Equipped with a large feed throat, the 5050H can accept up to a 23” diameter single tree or multiple smaller stems. The 5050H can be configured with a three or four pocket disc, with several optional sheave sizes to make precisely the chip required. Chipping production rates up to 136 tonnes per hour can be achieved depending on chip size and wood characteristics. Peterson’s heavy-duty 66” diameter, 4¾” thick chipper disc has replaceable ½” wear plates. Traditional Babbitt-type knives or Key Knife components are available. The stationary 5050H can be configured from 600 to 1000 hp at the disc depending on the needs of an application. An additional 600 hp electric motor powers the needs of the hydraulic system. www.petersencorp.com


Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

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Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020




New edition of CLT Handbook now available

PInnovations, a non-profit organization specializing in creating solutions that support the global competitiveness of the Canadian forest sector, and its government and industry partners recently launched the all-new 2019 second edition of the building construction game-changing, “Canadian CLT Handbook.” Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is increasingly used in the sustainable construction of tall buildings and has a firm footing in the mass-timber-building global movement. FPInnovations and its partners are leading the knowledge transfer of the most up-to-date CLT technical information to the design and construction community. “Building with wood impacts the entire forest sector value chain by creating new products and markets and increasing the value of wood products,” said Stéphane Renou, President and CEO, FPInnovations. “I’m proud of the expertise we’ve developed with our partners and pleased to share that expert knowledge with other industries, such as building construction, that can support the forest sector’s growth and competitiveness.” The two-volume Handbook was funded by the B.C. government’s Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) agency; the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry; Natural Resources Canada; Structurlam; Nordic Structures; the Québec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks; the Province

of Alberta; and the Centre for Research and Innovation in the Bio-Economy (CRIBE). FPInnovations and its partners first delivered Canadian and U.S. versions of the handbooks in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Since then, new research and regulations have made a revised comprehensive how-to handbook essential. The 2019 edition includes the new CLT provisions in the Canadian Standards Association’s standard in “Engineering Design in Wood.” An extra chapter provides a state-of-theLogging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

art design prototype of an eight-storey mass-timber building. Copies of the Canadian Englishlanguage Handbook are available at clt. fpinnovations.ca. French-language and U.S. editions are planned. Peer-reviewed and written by FPInnovations and academic researchers, as well as design and construction industry professionals, the Handbook is THE reference in North America for the latest technical and practical information on using CLT in building construction.



Forestry 4.0: Innovating today for tomorrow

orestry 4.0 is a research program led by FPInnovations whose overarching goal is to increase the competitiveness of the Canadian forest industry by bringing real-time data flow and automation to forest operations. The program is supported by the industry, FPInnovations members and government. It focuses on three components: autonomous trucks, automated harvesting and in-forest connectivity, with the aim to reduce fibre supply costs, mitigate labour shortages, increase safety and improve the environmental performance of forest operations. Francis Charette, a lead scientist with FPInnovations, answered questions about how the program is implementing technology in the forest industry. How does Canada compare to other countries in terms of a digitalized forestry industry? “The Canadian forest sector has invested significantly in digitalizing the forest management planning process, including forest inventory and intervention plans. We are among the leading countries in digitalized forestry. However, we still face many challenges in operationalizing information in realtime throughout the forest value chain. Our diversity in terms of ecosystems, forest tenures, extreme weather conditions and remote areas without cellular coverage adds to the complexity of the digital toolbox that will eventually be deployed.”

To what extent does the supply chain benefit from Forestry 4.0? “We have been able to demonstrate that Forestry 4.0 has the potential to significantly lower supply costs, mitigate labour shortages, increase safety and increase environmental performance. From a supply chain point of view, we hope that forest operations of the future will be able to sustainably provide the right fibre, at the right time, at the right mill, at a competitive cost to optimize the wood transformation process to meet market demands.” Can you describe a few examples of successful Forestry 4.0 projects? “We are focused on long-term projects—however, we have already contributed to the implementation of these projects: The ITC (Individual Tree Crown) inventory is a new product that has been developed by Forsite Consultants through the ARCTIC Challenge funded by the British Columbia government and FPInnovations. It gives another perspective of forest inventory. We are talking about identifying each tree in a forest and calculating the individual characteristics of each tree. This will pave the way for creating digital twins of the forest and unlocking a new way of planning and monitoring forest operations. TimberOps is a new product from a non-traditional partner, LlamaZOO. They have adapted a powerful visual tool from the mining industry. The tool combines a large quantity of data within a 3D-VR platform. The tool is used by forest companies to create plans in complex situations like steep slopes and coastal harvesting.” How important is technology in attracting new talent? “As many people know, the country has almost full employment right now, which is causing a labour shortage in our sector for some traditional jobs, like truck drivers. Young people are tech-savvy, and we hope that integrating new technologies in the sector will


Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

Francis Charette, FPInnovations attract a new labour force. There is a huge opportunity for start-up companies to develop high-tech services for our sector because the space is wide open.” Looking back, where was Forestry 4.0 three or five years ago? “The Forestry 4.0 program was officially launched in 2017-2018. If I look back at where we were then, we established the vision of where we wanted to go and identified gaps in our internal skill sets like robotics, intelligent transportation systems and telecommunications. This led to the development of partnerships to help us develop components of our vision. We needed to develop these partnerships with non-traditional players from new areas like AR/VR, IoT, autonomous systems, cloud computing and AI. We started with smaller projects, mostly in remote sensing technologies.” And looking forward, where do you see Forestry 4.0 in three to five years? “I think that through Forestry 4.0 and similar programs around the world, the forest industry will take a huge step forward in terms of technology integration. I am confident that autonomous trucks and platooning systems will make their way into Canadian forest operations. I also think that harvesting machine teleoperations will become a reality at dangerous sites. Machine operators will have access to a lot more information to carry out their tasks and some of their tasks will be automated. Affordable connectivity in the forest will become a reality.”

Researchers successfully use yeast to grow green chemical production opportunities for Alberta‘s forest sector By Tony Kryzanowski


akers use yeast to make bread dough rise… and University of Alberta researchers are now showing how Alberta forest companies can use genetically engineered yeast to cause business opportunities in the bioeconomy to rise. They have discovered that certain genetically engineered yeast cells and bacteria can convert low-value forestry waste like sawdust, bark, lignin and processed biomass from bush piles into high-value biochemicals needed by the cosmetics, oil and gas, lubricant, detergent and food industries. These forestry-derived chemicals can be substituted for high volumes of chemicals currently produced from petrochemicals and palm oil, representing a non-toxic, biodegradable and more environmentally friendly alternative to these traditional chemical sources. Dr. David Stuart is a professor in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Alberta and chief investigator on this research project aimed at finding ways to manufacture high-value bioproducts from low-value biomass. So far, Stuart and his team have proven they can convert forestry and agricultural waste products into green chemicals using their genetically engineered yeast. They have applied their process to black liquor and lignin supplied by Mercer International and West Fraser Timber with limited success. Now, they want to test their conversion process on low-value forest waste products like sawdust, bark and waste generated from logging activity because Stuart believes they will achieve better yield. These waste products have much higher carbohydrate content, which is critical to achieving higher conversion yields using his genetically engineered yeast strains. Stuart also wants to streamline his chemical conversion process while focusing on the production of the highestvalue chemicals. This will help to make the business case for forest companies and investors to consider the commercialization of this proven technology. Alberta Innovates provided $290,000 through its Alberta Bio Future program

and additional funding support from its Lignin Challenge program to advance this research. Bioindustrial Innovations Canada provided $519,825 and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) provided another $125,000. “The support from Alberta Innovates was essential,” says Stuart. “It allowed us to actually start the project and show that we can make these products and get it to the point where we could make enough product to allow potential users to sample.” What motivated Stuart to pursue this research was his recognition of how many chemicals derived from Southeast Asian palm oil are used in common consumer products such as shampoo, soap, cosmetics and food. While palm oil is a renewable product, millions of hectares have been ploughed under to create massive plantations for palm oil production, representing a significant environmental challenge. Because of the distance factor and with palm oil used in so many products, manufacturers could also experience supply chain issues from this single-source supplier. Stuart thought about using low-value forestry and agriculture waste to produce the same chemicals, which would signifi-

U of A biochemistry student Christy Ma is shown in Dr. Stuart’s lab with an engineered culture containing palmityl alcohol. The palmityl alcohol is floating on the surface and can be collected in pure form with only a single cleanup step required. Ma is sampling the culture to perform gas chromatography for analysis of composition and purity. Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

cantly reduce manufacturer dependence on palm oil being transported from a great distance, and thus reducing potential supply chain issues. What encouraged him to pursue his research is that he received a very favourable response from a major specialty chemical company called Croda, which expressed an interest in chemicals derived from low-value biomass instead of palm oil. Also, Stuart’s genetically engineered yeast cells can produce versions of chemicals from forestry waste that are very difficult to make from palm oil or to synthesize chemically, representing a potential niche market for specific high-value and highdemand chemicals for the forest industry. Furthermore, the process he has developed results in pure product that floats to the surface and can be easily skimmed off without the need for extensive purification and distillation. There is no chemical waste byproduct, as when synthesizing these same chemical products from petrochemicals. One unexpected and important discovery from Stuart’s research is that investigators were able to produce a cleaning agent from lignin which is very effective for degrading toxic compounds that pollute the soil and are generated in oil sands process water, bitumen refining and other petrochemical processes. Finally, ethanol is produced from combining yeast with glucose typically derived from corn and sugar cane. Stuart says that his genetically engineered yeast prefers to use sugars derived from abundant, low-value woody biomass or straw, meaning that this technology could be used effectively in the production of chemicals from wood waste instead of from other traditional raw materials. “If our process was successfully scaled up, I have no doubt that it could yield high-value products from low-value biomass byproducts,” Stuart says. For more information about Alberta Innovates’ support for this project and the Alberta Bio Future Program, contact Julia Necheff at Julia.Necheff@albertainnovates.ca.



B.C.–based organizations partner to improve forest fibre utilization and forest resilience

here is tremendous value to British Columbians in reducing forest slash burning. The benefits include improved community protection, reduced environmental impact, and increased employment. Since 2017, FPInnovations and the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia (FESBC) have partnered to find solutions that maximize the use of forest fibre, all while enhancing forest resiliency throughout B.C. This is a key priority for the provincial government considering the mid-term fibre supply deficits, the latest consequential mill closures, and the recent catastrophic wildfires. THE POWER OF EFFICIENCY “With the financial support of FESBC, FPInnovations has unravelled the economics of forest operations tailored to increase the use of existing fibre sources,” stated Ken Byrne, manager of resource management for FPInnovations. “The findings will provide the B.C. forest sector with the necessary information to become innovative, cut costs, and maximize operations.” Much of FPInnovations’ research has revolved around the incremental costs of harvesting and transporting biomass logs. These costs are over and above what it would normally cost to transport logs for market. The research has also looked at alternative processing systems to identify opportunities to reduce costs and increase fibre utilization. “Initial research identified opportunities to increase volume recovery using centrally located yards instead of processing solely at roadside.” said Byrne. “These studies also showed that if biomass logs are transported to market instead of piling and burning them at roadside, there is potential for higher profits.” REDUCING THE WILDFIRE RISK THROUGH THINNING FPInnovations also assessed thinning operations which reduce the density of trees on the land base.


A great example of this is the wildfire risk reduction project by the City of Quesnel. The city needed to protect the community by reducing wildfire risk close to the Quesnel airport. By thinning the trees and removing ladder fuels and lower branches, the risk of an out-of-control crown fire—where a fire goes from one treetop to another— dramatically decreased. The City also wished to enhance wildlife habitat and create a recreational trail system in the same area and generate green energy from the woody biomass that otherwise would have been slash-burned in the process. The research on these operations helped identify the true efficiency of forest fuel reduction treatments and reveal associated costs. Not only do these treatments reduce wildfire risk, but they also achieve other forest management objectives—specifically when it comes to areas that are adjacent to communities and critical infrastructure. VALUE OF THE PARTNERSHIP “FESBC is grateful that FPInnovations is able to provide research expertise in forest operations. We are in a Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

time of transition. It is critical to know the true costs and levels of productivity of different machines, methods, and treatment plans,” explained Steve Kozuki, executive director of FESBC. “Getting the most value from the forest at an affordable cost will help British Columbia create more sustainable jobs, protect communities, and achieve our goals when it comes to climate change.” “The partnership between FESBC and FPInnovations has had a positive impact on increasing fibre utilization and forest resilience when the forest industry needs it the most,” said Byrne. “Future projects will continue to focus on maximizing value from lower-quality stands of trees and responding to the continuous impacts of climate change.”

For more information about this collaborative project, please contact David Conly at dconly@fesbc.ca or Ken Byrne at ken.byrne@fpinnovations.ca.

CWFC best practices are a guide to successfully establishing a fast growing tree plantation By Tony Kryzanowski


he Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) Technology Development Team offers the following minimal risk, best practices guide for site selection, species selection, plantation establishment, and vegetation management for those interested in successfully planting and managing a fast growing woody fibre crop on a plantation. These best practices are based on CWFC’s proven, cost-effective, and easily implemented planning and management protocols verified over the past 18 years. Derek Sidders, Project Manager, Technology Development and Transfer at CWFC says that this tree land management technology is ready for uptake, and anyone familiar with growing conventional seed crops can easily master the growing and management of a fast growing woody fibre crop. The basic common sense principles are the same as shown below and crops can be harvested within 10 to 25 years, achieving a minimum growth of 10 cubic metres per hectare per year. Sidders adds that more and more Canadians are recognizing that fast growing hybrid poplar, clonal aspen, and commercially valuable softwood species like white spruce and white pine planted in the understorey of high yield afforestation plantations offer: an alternative fuel source for green energy production; a natural climate solution for carbon sequestration in a changing climate experiencing more frequent erratic weather events; and an alternative fibre source to complement Canada’s natural forests, while enhancing ecosystems for wildlife and birds. The three critical ingredients for success are suitable site selection and preparation, species selection based on the site’s bio-geoclimatic zone, and mechanical vegetation management until the plantation achieves crown closure at which time the plantation selfmanages competing vegetation.

Two month old hybrid poplar with mechanical vegetation control

Two year old hybrid poplar with mechanical vegetation control

Six year old hybrid poplar with mechanical vegetation control.

In terms of suitable site selection and preparation, any fertile land capable of growing a seed or pulse crop can grow a commercial fast growing tree crop. The site should have good drainage located south of the 60th parallel, with relatively flat topography and with minimal large impediments like stones. Mechanical site preparation involves creating 30 centimetres of well-aerated loose soil on the surface to allow for good root growth, moisture management, and intensive vegetation management. For species selection, CWFC has developed a guide showing appropriate clonal species for each Canadian biogeoclimatic zone. The use of multiple clones is recommended to minimize risk and to allow for a variety of final product options. The planting material is either a vegetative cutting measuring 25-30 centimetres long, planted directly into the soil with one bud exposed above ground, or a 40-50 centimetre tall rooted cutting typically started in a greenhouse, or a rooted one-yearLogging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

old whip. The site should be planted when the soil temperature is above 12 degrees Celsius with at least 14 hours of sunlight and with the potential for rainfall within 10 to 14 days of planting. Vegetation management usually starts within 4-5 weeks of planting and is recommended whenever the crop is experiencing competition that is 15-20 centimetres in height, over a minimum of 50 per cent of the site. It is required until the site achieves crown closure within three to four years. Only mechanical vegetation control is recommended, consisting of high speed rotary cultivation or conventional passive cultivation using tines that are typically used on conventional crops or when growing vegetables. For more information on these basic best practices for successful short rotation woody crop plantation establishment, contact Derek Sidders at derek. sidders@canada.ca.



Tigercat launches new 850 log processor

The Tigercat 850 log processor is a purpose-built roadside processor that the company says delivers outstanding performance and impressive fuel economy. Designed for high volume roadside processing, the Tigercat 850 offers many advantages over excavator conversions, says the company, including better service access, higher cooling capacity and processor head optimized hydraulics. The Tigercat FPT N67 engine delivers 159 kW (213 hp) at 2100 rpm for Tier 2 and Tier 4f emission compliance. www.tigercat.com

Waratah Forestry Equipment releases WaratahPlus app

Waratah Forestry Equipment has released the new WaratahPlus mobile app, available as a free download from the App Store for Android and iOS platforms.

The new reference tool provides a quick overview of key adjustments and helps answer basic service questions. The menu includes selections for service, setup, calibration, diagnostics and safetyrelated information. Step-by-step processes help outline procedures so operators can quickly perform required actions. Caution notes help ensure safety measures are followed when any work is performed on the head. The Waratah 600 series 3- and 4-roller line includes the HTH616C, HTH618C, HTH622B, HTH622C 4x4, HTH623C, HTH624C 4x4, HTH624C, HTH625C and HTH626 Series-II. www.waratah.com

SMS Equipment heavy equipment technician wins top award

The Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) has awarded SMS Equipment Advanced Certified Technician Clayton Kennon as AED’s inaugural Technician of the Year for Canada. “The AED Foundation is excited to honor technicians like Clayton for their hard work and passion to the equipment industry through our Technicians of the Year Awards,” says Jason Blake, Executive Vice President and COO of The AED Foundation. “Clayton is a leader, mentor, and goto guy for our technicians,” says Larry Gouthro, General Manager, SMS Equipment. “We can always rely on Clayton in a tough situation or tight deadline to pull through. His dedication is contagious.” Gouthro adds that receiving the AED Technician of the Year award demonstrates the first rate service SMS Equipment delivers. www.smsequip.com

Ponsse celebrates 25 years in North America The new app provides contractors and their equipment operators with more accessibility to information for setting up and servicing their Waratah 600 series machines. Intended to help with daily maintenance and other in-field procedures, the WaratahPlus app helps increase uptime by providing operators with the information needed to quickly service their machine. 54

Over the last quarter century, Ponsse has successfully staked its claim in the forests of North America, but the legend began in 1957 with a frame saw held by a farmer’s son in Northern Savonia, Finland. In 1995, Ponsse North America established a North America subsidiary in Atlanta, Georgia. Sensing opportunity and demand for cut-to-length machinery in the Great Lakes region, the company found its way north and fully took root Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

By Tony Kryzanowski

moving its North American headquarters to Rhinelander, Wisconsin in 1997. Today, the brand that began in a small village in Finland has now changed the forest industry landscape of North America, supported by many dealerships and service centres across the continent. From the launch of the Scorpion in 2014, to the much-anticipated launch of the Bison in June 2020, Ponsse says that it has always defined the cutting edge of innovation and performance in forest machinery. www.ponsse.com

Pollard Lumber pioneers next generation JoeScan laser scanners

Pollard Lumber is blazing the trail with new technology for their recently upgraded bucking line. The Georgia-based sawmill recently installed the world’s first next-gen JS-50 laser scanners by JoeScan. The new Nelson Brothers Engineering (NBE) optimizer receives geometric data from a single overhead bank of 12 dual camera JoeScan laser scanners. The scanners are arranged linearly in 12 zones with 65” between each zone. This setup allows for stems up to 65’ long to be scanned with a very short infeed. It also allows for optimized solutions to be delivered before the stem reaches the saw. This speed is critical for the bucking line to keep up with the pace of the rest of the mill. “There’s a misconception that bucking optimization is easy because the cuts are simple to make,” says Andy Pollard, Vice President at Pollard Lumber. “But every other decision downstream depends on this first bucking solution.” www.joescan.com

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Two Alberta forestry regulatory bodies officially unite

Two forestry regulatory bodies in Alberta, one regulating university forestry graduates and one regulating technologists graduating from two-year forestry diploma programs, have officially united into the Association of Alberta Forest Management Professionals (AAFMP). “We issue annual practice permits for


competencies for individuals to achieve registration. They also review credential assessment applications for out-of-province applicants who may have followed a different educational and accreditation pathway within their home jurisdiction. Many Alberta companies require forester and forest technologist accreditation as part of their wood product certification programs and forest management compliance requirements with the provincial government. www.aafmp.com

Brandt now delivers Deere forestry offering coast-to-coast-to-coast in Canada.

he Canadian forestry equipment industry saw a major shift in late-2019 as the Brandt Group of Companies announced that they had reached an agreement to purchase the assets of John Deere-owned Nortrax Canada Inc. and Nortrax Quebec Inc. The acquisition of Deere’s dealer network in Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador unites all John Deere Construction & Forestry dealerships in Canada under the Brandt banner. The landmark deal was a strategic move by Brandt to create the country’s first and only coast-to-coast-to-coast equipment dealer network, opening the door for the Regina-based company to deliver seamless access to Deere products, parts and support services to Canadian loggers, it says. Now a truly national entity, the company offers a 6,000+ unit new and used equipment inventory, employs more than 800 certified service technicians and delivers parts anywhere in Canada from their $90+million inventory—the largest in the industry, says Brandt. The deal has further established the firm’s position as a premier privately-held Canadian company and the largest John Deere dealership in the world. “Delivering strong, consistent support for our customers is always our #1 priority at Brandt,” says Brandt President and CEO, Shaun Semple. “The addition of Nortrax’s impressive branch and distribution network gives us the ability to take care of loggers anywhere in Canada, no matter where their contracts take them.” The acquisition of Nortrax was a logical next step for the family-owned company, the latest in a series of expansions beyond the borders of Saskatchewan, starting 25 years ago. 56

foresters and forest technologists in Alberta,” says Carla Rhyant, AAFMP executive director. “To protect the public interest, we ensure that registrants are qualified, committed to lifelong learning and education throughout their career and we facilitate a disciplinary and complaints process.” At present they have about 1,500 registrants, split almost equally between foresters and forest technologists. It took about 10 years to accomplish the unification. The AAFMP operates under the new Alberta Regulated Forest Management Profession Act and uses set standards and job

The story of the Brandt Group of Companies’ began in 1932 with Regina-area electrical contracting firm, Brandt Electric. Gavin Semple, the father of current President and CEO Shaun Semple, began working in sales with the company in 1972, soon acquired controlling interest and was joined by Shaun in 1984. Building on that foundation, the Semple Family became John Deere’s exclusive construction and forestry dealer in Saskatchewan in 1992 and expanded the business into Manitoba and southern Alberta in 1995 with the acquisition of three more dealerships. In 1999, they purchased additional dealerships in Edmonton, Fort McMurray and Grande Prairie, Alberta. By 2001, a dealership had also been established in Milton, Ontario and in 2002, Brandt was able to acquire 13 dealerships in British Columbia. In 2013, five more locations were added in the Atlantic Canada region, bringing the total to 27 full-service branches. The recent addition of the Nortrax locations gives Brandt 56 full-service dealerships and 100+ service points across Canada. From Day One, the Semple Family has focused on customer support as Brandt’s #1 priority. To help ensure the success of their customers, the company has expanded the breadth of its offering significantly over the years to include significant offerings from some of the top equipment suppliers in the world in forestry (Hitachi), roadbuilding (Wirtgen, Hamm, Vögele, Kleemann), underground excavation (American Augers, Trencor, Ditch Witch), truck rigging and specialized transportation (Camex – acquired by Brandt in 2018), positioning technologies (Topcon, iVolve), machine monitoring Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

(JDLink, FleetWise), utility and heavy haul trailers, and more. The Semples recognized along the way that they could add additional value for their customers by leveraging their extensive manufacturing capabilities to design and produce built-for-purpose attachments for the equipment that they sell. Their Brandt Equipment Solutions division now markets a 3,000+ unit catalogue of Deere-optimized custom material handling attachments such as buckets, blades, thumbs and couplers along with forestryspecific products such as log grapples for swing machines and skidders. They also do machine conversions for specialized construction and forestry applications where John Deere does not otherwise offer a standard solution. “We have customers working in highly-specialized environments where it is necessary to customize standard logging equipment to meet their production requirements,” says Neil Marcotte, senior vice-president of sales – manufactured products, Brandt. “For example, we recently collaborated with Deere to adapt the arm on a 959M tracked harvester to work with our power grapple in steepslope conditions on Vancouver Island. It required a custom mount and modified hydraulics and has performed exceptionally well for our customer. We’ve since had a number of requests for more of these units. “At the end of the day, we’re here to help Canadian loggers succeed, pure and simple,” concludes Semple. “We now have the reach to work shoulder-toshoulder with them anywhere they go in Canada. That is very satisfying.”

classified AD INDEX ADVERTISER PAGE Andritz Iggesund Tools......................................5 Andritz LogPorter Cranes................................23 Autolog...........................................................25 Brandt Launch Campaign.......................... 30-31 Brandt Group..................................................41 Carbotech.......................................................22 Corbilt Welding & Fabrication..........................38 Eberl...............................................................21 Ford..................................................................7 ForestTechX 2020...........................................55 Hitachi............................................................17 Inland.............................................................59 Intertape Polymer Group.................................42 John Deere.....................................................13 Linck..............................................................29 Metal Detectors..............................................45 Milltron Electric...............................................24 Olofsfors.........................................................14 Optimil............................................................20 Ponsse............................................................35 Quadco Group...................................................2 Rawlings........................................................44 Ritchie Bros Finacial Services.........................15 Rotochopper.....................................................9 Sennebogen...................................................43 SKS Engineering.............................................24 Springer Microtec...........................................39 SuperSaul Chemex.........................................23 Tigercat..........................................................60 Tsubaki..........................................................48 USNR..............................................................47 Wainbee.........................................................28 Wolftek...........................................................19 Wood-Mizer....................................................46


NAME:________________________________ TITLE/POSITION:__________________ COMPANY NAME:_______________________________________________________ ADDRESS:____________________________________________________________

Dorian Lavallee, National Sales Manager for Wood-Mizer Canada, passed away peacefully at home on March 2. Dorian is survived by his loving wife and adventure partner of 26 years, Heather. He is the cherished dad of Sinclair. Dorian was a diehard Habs fan, he loved life and lived it to the fullest, taking on new adventures and scratching off items on his “bucket list”. A celebration of Dorian’s life was held on Sunday, March 8 at Celebrations Inc in Lindsay, Ontario. Taking over Lavallee’s duties at Wood-Mizer Canada is Scott Kelly. www.woodmizer.ca

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National Sales Manager for Wood-Mizer Canada passes

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020



Canada has won the interim softwood lumber tariff fight, but a long term trade reset is needed By Tony Kryzanowski


he U.S. plans to significantly lower both the anti-dumping duty (AD) rate and countervailing duty rate (CVD) for most Canadian softwood lumber producers this coming August, based on a recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Commerce. These combined duties will drop from about 20 per cent now to about 8.21 per cent, although that amount will vary for larger softwood lumber producers. For example, Resolute Forest Products will realize only a marginal rate reduction from about 18 per cent to just over 16 per cent. Other companies like Canfor will witness a significant reduction from just over 22 per cent to 4.76 per cent, West Fraser Timber will see a reduction from nearly 24 per cent to about 9 per cent, and J.D. Irving’s rate will drop from 9.38 per cent to 4.32 per cent. In the meantime, negotiations for a new Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement and the return of deposit funds collected from Canadian producers to date will continue. This tariff rate reduction by the Department of Commerce either signals that civility is returning to the conversation surrounding tariffs or that it is an election year in the U.S., with Republicans worried how the impact of these tariffs on American home prices might hurt them at the ballot box. Either way, this is a victory for Canada, and an important one. A reduction was expected when the NAFTA Chapter 19 binational panel concluded last year that there were insufficient grounds for the U.S. International Trade Commission to claim that Canadian softwood lumber products have materially injured the U.S. softwood lumber industry.


They ordered the Department of Commerce to reconsider their tariffs, and they have. Short term, of course, it reduces the amount of money that Canadian softwood lumber producers must place on deposit as negotiations on a new agreement continue. Longer term, it sets the table for a greatly needed reset in how the Americans view future supply of Canadian softwood lumber to the American market. Punitive tariffs of any kind just can’t be justified anymore. That’s because Canada just won’t be supplying as much softwood lumber into the American market because of the impact of the mountain pine beetle on the B.C. Interior wood basket, at least till replacement trees grow to merchantable size and there is reinvestment into the B.C. Interior industry. My prediction is that it could be anywhere from 30 to 50 years. It will unfold in the same way it has unfolded in the southeastern corner of B.C., which in the past has been affected by both beetles and forest fires, before the beetle became an issue in the Interior. The forest has since grown back and this region has some of the most modern sawmills in the province. Softwood lumber production is a national industry and I understand that, but when you look at the actual numbers, it becomes clear what a major impact that B.C. Interior softwood lumber production has on trade with the U.S. Global Affairs Canada tracks softwood lumber sales to the U.S. by region and province on a monthly basis. They even track total U.S. consumption and the monthly price paid. Let’s take a sample of softwood lumber exported from Canada to the U.S. Logging & Sawmilling Journal - March/April 2020

in January 2020. There was a total of 1,036,014,697 board feet of softwood lumber exported to the U.S. from Canada. Of that, about a third or 353,674,103 board feet came from the B.C. Interior. The next largest exporter was the entire province of Quebec at 195,873,851 board feet, followed by Alberta at 162,418,817 board feet and Ontario at 124,560,565 board feet. Also by comparison, the B.C. Coast only exported 30,647,069 board feet, or less than 10 percent of what was shipped from the B.C. Interior. Looking at statistics from previous months, there were some when exports from the Interior exceeded 500,000,000 board feet. Why this is important is because the B.C. government is predicting a 30 per cent wood supply reduction in the B.C. Interior between 2010 and 2030. Vancouver-based Forest Economic Advisors Canada (FEA) predicts that there will only be about 55 sawmills left in the B.C. Interior by 2028 compared to a high of 95 in 2007. This is nearly a 50 per cent reduction. So the amount of softwood lumber that the B.C. Interior, and by extension Canada, will supply to the U.S. over the next decade or more will very likely drop significantly. In my view, there is a strong case to be made that as long as this trend continues, and if our two countries truly believe in free trade, then there should be no American tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber at all. Because in the final analysis, who really pays for the tariffs? American home buyers and that’s bad for American politicians wanting to be re-elected.


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