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One forest company expanding amidst industry uncertainty

Brink Group founder and CEO John Brink gives Forest Minister Doug Donaldson a tour of his River Road finger-joint plant. Facebook photo

With forest companies announcing temporary and permanent shut downs seemingly every week, there is one forest company that is expanding.

The Brink Group – which operates Brink Forest Products in Prince George, Vanderhoof Special Wood Products, and Pleasant Valley Remanufacturing in Houston – has ambitious expansion plans over the next couple of years, according to founder and CEO John Brink.

“In Prince George we are adding to our capacity,” he told reporters last week. “We adding another finger-jointing plant that will increase our production by about 40 per cent.”

Work on that plant will start in late 2020, he said, and it will add at least 75 people to the company’s payroll.

In Vanderhoof, he said, the company is in the process of doubling the capacity of it pellet plant there and increasing production on the remanufacturing plant and finger jointing plants, adding between 20 and 30 jobs.

“In Houston, that’s a smaller operation, but we’re looking at doubling the size there as well,” he said, adding that will create about 10 more jobs there.

“We understand the challenges that we have today, but we look forward and we believe the future looks bright,” he said. “But, let there be no doubt about it, even for a company like ourselves that are doing pure value-added, have no timber, get no subsidies or handouts, we still paying 21 per cent duties on all the value that we add.”

He said the more value that is added to wood products, the more companies get penalized, and that has to change.

“What has to happen if we want to attract investment, there has to be a reasonable expectation of access to fibre,” he said. “Secondly, companies should not get penalized for adding more value and that’s what’s happening today.”

He added that skills development is also critical to help the industry adapt to a different world.

“The industry is in changing mode, that means it’s going to be different,” he said. “It will be focusing on different markets. It’s not going to be only two-by-fours, two-by-sixes, two-by-10s, two-by-12s. It’s going to be different products for new markets, new technologies … huge opportunities.”

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