Sharpening the Saw

Its been said that there is power in staying connected to other people in your industry. My fifth consecutive B.C. Council of Forest Industries (COFI) Convention, held in Prince George last week, provided again opportunity to return with ideas to sharpen skills and stay abreast of a rapidly-changing lumbering landscape. The listed takeaways include a surprise at how few marketing and sales types were among more than 550 delegates who packed the Prince George Civic Centre for agenda presentations:

-The prevailing politically-charged environment these days seemed to shape tempered viewpoints from panelists on several fronts. Folks looking for Interfor President & CEO Duncan Davies to deliver pertinent softwood lumber dispute insights were disappointed. His confirmation lauding the work the Softwood Lumber Board is doing to grow softwood lumber demand did not excite. Fortunately a pointed question from the audience, asking why Canadian producers would support the SLB when a number of U.S. members are working to constrain market access, elicited topical response: “The tariffs are wrong. Whether or not the economy is helping to soften the blow, the tariffs should not be there. Inspite of trade matters, we need to continue to invest in our biggest market.” From West Fraser President & CEO Ted Seraphim: “Today, we’re not worried about the softwood lumber dispute. But if the market were weaker, we’d all be worrying about it. So we need to grow demand.”

-While there wasn’t a panel discussion dedicated to timely transportation concerns, Federal Minister of Transport Marc Garneau addressed the situation. He said CN and CP need to do better. He pointed to Bill C-49 (Transportation Modernization Act) but his reporting an improvement in railcar capacity for grain fell flat among an audience concerned with lumber shipments. From Beth MacNeil, Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian Forest Service: “Without infrastructure, there is no trade.”

Jock Finlayson, Business Council of B.C., talked about the uncertain, shifting economic landscape in this province. He referenced the impact of uncertainty on investor confidence and how Canada is lagging in healthy capital formation. He sees little upside in residential construction in Canada, while pointing to “fundamental organic demand for housing growth” in the U.S. 30-39 age group. He suggested recent fiscal stimulus in the U.S. is unnecessary and poorly timed. Presently 300,000-400,000 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. are unfilled.

-According to Paul Jannke, Forest Economic Advisors (FEA), the U.S. labour force is the single biggest constraining factor in U.S. sawmill production.

-It was refreshing to hear from B.C.’s new Minister of Forests, Doug Donaldson, but otherwise nothing noteworthy recorded.

-An excellent presentation by Kevin Pankratz, Senior VP, Sales & Marketing, Canfor addressed export markets and the global outlook. Interesting to learn that the R&R market is bigger than new home construction. Expansive growth in hybrid construction, off-site construction, and building automation in all markets reported. “Governments everywhere will increase focus on green building initiatives to meet emission targets.”

-Most edgy presentation (“Fibre Supply – It Is What We Make It”) goes to Diane Nicholls, now two years into her job as B.C.’s Chief Forester. In the aftermath of the Mountain Pine Beetle, she seemingly referees the constant fight for access to quality fibre, further complicated by the Spruce Beetle presently eating into the midterm timber supply.

-The Forestry Jobs for Today and Tomorrow panel might have been one of the highlights. Best moderator of the convention goes to Sandy Ferguson, VP Corporate Development, Conifex. It was interesting to hear industry (Canfor/Interfor/Tolko/West Fraser) is working to rejuvenate parts of the BCIT Wood Products Manufacturing Program I graduated from, which has been dormant since 2003. From Kara Biles, Manager Learning & Talent, Canfor: “Aggressively advocate for diversity and inclusion in your company; diversity is a competitive differentiator shifting market share toward more diverse companies.” Derek Orr, Business Development Manager, Carrier provided update on planning underway for a Ranger Program aimed at development/training of Aboriginal youth. Lots of sponsor traction for the program including Carrier, Dunkley, Conifex, West Fraser, and Canfor.

Premier John Horgan seemed pleasantly surprised with the warm welcome before delivering his keynote speech Friday morning: “Thank you for clapping.” He deftly navigated the politically-charged minefield.

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At first glance, the 2018 COFI Convention struck me as perhaps being lighter on content in comparison with past years. However, on second glance, it was rich in both content and opportunity, with plenty to digest. As one among four delegates from Dakeryn Industries, I again return from this convention with new and enlightening ideas. For us all, it was a worthwhile time to ‘sharpen our saws’.

Premier John Horgan with COFI President & CEO Susan Yurkovich (6 Apr 2018)

Hijacking Lumber

It happened this week. A semi-trailer transporting product en route from Alberta to Dakeryn’s wood specialties manufacturing plant in Abbotsford, B.C. was hijacked. According to reports, the suspect faces a number of charges, including kidnapping and use of a firearm in the commission of an offence.

He came to my window (waving a handgun).. I had no doubt that he wouldn’t have had a problem shooting me to get out of there.. I was thinking as long as I was doing what he wanted and driving, he was no great threat to me – but it was a long three-hour drive to Kamloops.

Those are the words of one cool trucker, Robert Price. No doubt there will be a full investigation into the suspect’s motive. In the light of ongoing tragedies involving firearms, it seems insensitive to characterize the incident as anything other than another very serious situation. We couldn’t help wondering though, what would drive somebody to undertake such extreme measures aimed at securing Dakeryn’s lumber? And if the kidnapper had arrived at eventual destination, would our fine finished products have also become a subject of ransom? That question was reportedly in our truck driver’s mind too, when he wondered aloud: “How does this end?” Fortunately, the RCMP intervened at a truck stop 175 miles from our specialties plant and, from early reporting, their gunshots were aimed at the truck’s front tires.

Carrier

It’s been said that excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer. Dakeryn’s strong partnered approach in the marketing, re-manufacturing, and distribution of Appearance Grade lumber with western sawmills of excellence is integral to the company’s long association with key producers.

When Carrier Lumber honoured Dakeryn Industries as their “#1 Customer” with a trophy presentation Friday to President Rob Chimko, it reaffirmed the importance of quality as a building block in the lumber industry. As noted on their website, three principles have guided growth for companies associated with the Carrier Group:

  • Innovation in milling technology
  • Community partnerships with aboriginal groups and community stakeholders
  • Responsible management of the forest ecosystem.

Carrier has achieved sound growth over the years by consistently producing high quality lumber, a determination to form long lasting relationships with customers and to provide the best service possible.

Trade Shows Value

As the record number of registrations for next week’s Montreal Wood Convention attests, trade shows are not going away. That’s the conclusion also expressed in an informative post by Tom Oakes in the blog archives at Astro Exhibitions. And we agree. It’s true that in this digital age, that offers 24/7 connection, there is a re-examination of the relevance or value of trade shows and exhibitions.

Top four interesting facts that Oakes points out:

1. Lead generation is the top reason to attend a trade show. Almost 70% of trade show attendees offer new prospects or leads for exhibitors.
2. 75% of trade show attendees travel over 400 miles to attend a show, highlighting the potential international audience you can reach by attending the right trade show.
3. The number one reason people visit an exhibition is to see new products. 92% of all attendees to exhibitions say that their primary reason is to find new products and it has been the same for the last 25 years. This demonstrates the value of an exhibition for introducing your products and services to a potential new audience.
4. Almost 100% of marketers surveyed by the CEIR (Centre of Exhibition Industry Research) said they felt that exhibitions offered unique value not offered from other marketing mediums.

Leaving aside the research and the numbers there is one factor above all else that keeps trade shows relevant. Human interaction. We are in an ever-increasing world of technological advancement and there are more ways than ever to connect with people but one thing that is not going out of fashion anytime soon is the power of making a face-to-face connection. Humans by our very nature are social beings, we crave interaction. We react and interact with body language, able to subconsciously detect the slightest change and inflection in someone’s manner and demeanour. Technology will always struggle to replicate this experience. Trade shows and exhibitions offer the perfect environment to create and nurture business relationships based on the simplest of interpersonal skills.
– Tom Oakes, Astro Exhibitions

Lumber Traders Obsolete?

Time to answer Question Number 7 for 2015: Is information technology rendering lumber traders obsolete?
While it seems reasonable to surmise the pool of lumber traders is getting smaller (consolidations in North America, vanishing lumber agents in China), information technology is not rendering lumber traders obsolete. It would seem that there are intangibles traders bring to the marketing function in the lumber business that, and we might have to agree with Donald Trump here, will always be necessary to fashion an effective deal! In fact the challenge of interpreting change in prevailing market uncertainties is probably greater than ever. Change no doubt calls for ever-shifting adjustments and demands of accommodation which of itself might be said to enhance the opportunities that a good lumber trader offers in today’s lumber market environment.

~Dak the Halls~

First United Church doubles as Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) homeless shelter. A recent visit in support of First United, one of several Dakeryn charities (including Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, North Shore Crisis Services Society) brought home the realities of daily challenges many on the margins of society face. I had the opportunity this past Sunday morning to listen to Reverend Sally McShane, the minister at First United. Her reflection on recurrent theme that “we are possibility” reinforced an awareness of our own privilege and “possibilities” to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.

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With Wendi Lawrence, Building Manager at First United Church Social Housing Society, and Chris Sainas, Dakeryn (Dec 10, 2015)

Roadkill

Talk about animal instinct. From our office window just last week, Dakeryn traders happened to witness a family of raccoons moving out of their evergreen headquarters in Lower Lonsdale. How were these critters to know that by Monday of this week, the twelve pine trees called home would be gone? In this breathtaking video taken in the wild and exclusive to Harderblog, the “kits” can be seen following Mom and Dad’s precarious pawsteps. Navigating those branches would have been a breeze however, compared to the four lanes of zooming cars and trucks between here and Waterfront Park.

In a report at Safebee.com, we’re told that “No one wants to hurt a raccoon, rabbit, or turtle. And certainly no one wants to collide with a deer or moose. But as urban development cuts into woodlands, it forces wildlife onto roadways, making them an easy target in traffic.” John Griffin, director of urban wildlife solutions of the Humane Society of the United States explains “As the number of roads and drivers increases, an animal’s risk of becoming road kill also rises.”

Recently, one of our truckers transporting lumber described the challenges associated with overcoming seemingly routine hazards of the road. It was surprising to hear the number of wild birds that are struck. Naturally, the question then arose: What about crows?!

According to a report received today from RCP Transit in Island Pond, Vermont, researchers for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority recently found over 200 dead crows near Greater Boston. There was concern they may have died from Avian Flu.

A Bird Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone’s relief, confirmed the problem was definitely NOT Avian Flu. The cause of death appeared to be vehicular impacts.

However, during the detailed analysis it was noted that varying colors of paints appeared on the bird’s beaks and claws.

By analyzing these paint residues it was determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while only 2% were killed by an impact with a car.

The M.T.A. then hired an Ornithological Behaviorist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills. He very quickly concluded the cause:

When crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow in a nearby tree to warn of impending danger.

They discovered that while all the look-out crows could shout  “Cah!”, not a single one could shout “Truck!”

Tough Gig

Even softwood-hardened Dakeryn traders used to volatility of lumber markets found the ups and downs of Chambers Bay golf course over the weekend a challenge – and we were only watching! Poor souls us, left to refuel at our beachfront headquarters in gorgeous Gig Harbor each evening. Thanks again to Dillon, Brittney, and Lauren for all their hard work – first class!

Speaking of hard work, I can’t imagine the energies spent by caddies lugging those huge bags over the ten-mile canyoned, slippery and sandy terrain each day.. especially for those who managed to survive the cut. Also can’t imagine the deflated exuberance of the Gretzky-led entourage in the imposing grandstand above the 18th green in anticipation of Dustin Johnson’s would-be U.S. Open championship putt. After his gut-wrenching 3-putt, Johnson looked lonely and starkly exposed as that single fir overlooking the 15th green.

Final Round 6-21-2015

Final Round 6-21-2015


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A Birdie in One

That might be in reference to an eagle perched high above the Douglas Fir tree that overlooks the 15th hole at this year’s U.S. Open Golf Championship. Dakeryn lumber traders planning to attend the Open won’t be the only ones surprised by the minimalist role that any woods connection plays in this year’s Open. The Pacific Northwest may be known for lush forested areas, in which the lumber industry thrives, but as this story in The Seattle Times points out, except for one lone fir tree, there ain’t any on the Chambers Bay golf course in Puget Sound.

Almost a TUBA FORE?!

“Wienecke arrived at work at Chambers Bay in pre-dawn darkness, as usual, that day in late April 2008. When he got around to the tree, the first thing he saw was the mess – the beer bottles and cigarette butts. Then he noticed the wood chips, and then the foot-and-a-half slash, eight inches deep, on the Narrows Bridge side of the trunk. Wienecke immediately summoned two arborists to the scene, and for 12 straight hours they worked feverishly to save the tree. A non-toxic epoxy was applied to fill the gash, and braces were attached to shore up the compromised part of the tree. In the days that followed, Wienecke heard from agronomists and arborists from around the world weighing in with their thoughts about the lone fir tree…”
The Man Who Saved Chambers Bay’s Lone Fir Tree – Cybergolf.com

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Photo Credit: golf50in10.wordpress.com

Rebuilding the Baja – Update

When the strongest storm on record hit the Mexican state of Baja California Sur last September, the town of San Jose del Cabo was devastated. A number of families lost everything.

Feeding Los Cabos Kids

Tony, “Feeding Los Cabos Kids”

The partners and staff at Dakeryn Industries, having enjoyed vacations in the area, were compelled to help the indigenous people of the Baja. The plan was to raise funds to provide immediate relief in the form of clean water, food, medical service/supplies, shelter – and building materials for restoration.

Under the leadership of Lauren Chimko, and with heartfelt gratitude for the amazing generosity of customers, suppliers, friends, and family, we’re pleased to confirm $30,174.86 was raised. With Dakeryn matching $10,000 in donations, the final tally broke $40,000. Many have been following Lauren’s blog Rebuild the Baja, where today’s post summarizes how these funds have made a difference.

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Juiced

When Dakeryn offered everyone on the trading floor a three-day, “January juice cleanse”, it sounded too good to be true. Consider it “part of your Christmas bonus” said Rob. Who wouldn’t want to ring in the new year with fresh-squeezed organic juice for free? But when we were told that three days of preparation were essential, I began to wonder if this was such a great deal after all. Chris said I might want to read the instructions. Drink lots of water and get as much rest as possible. Wean yourself off “daily indulgences” such as dairy, caffeine, beer, sushi, wheat, and meat. Before beginning the cleanse.

My three boxes arrived here at the office last Tuesday. By Wednesday I was lean and wean, ready to start consuming those 18 “delicious ideas”.  The colours in the jars suggested anything but. After drinking something called “The Greenest” (kale, collards, watercress, cucumber, celery, cilantro, green apple, dandelion, lemon, and ginger) – with feigned smile at my desk – I decided to re-visit the fine print: “If you begin to feel dizziness or fatigue, add chia seeds to your juice”. Nothing about nausea. That evening I watched my kids devour spaghetti bolognese while irritably sipping from a jar labelled “Almond Mylk”. The six jars on day two included “Grounded” (carrot, green apple, lemon, red beet, golden beet). On day three I quit.

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