Wood stair components are a global commodity

Specialty wood industry reaches out to world

#BCForestFuture series: Re-manufactured wood products have a global supply chain, and Asian markets are vital

When you go to a building supply store to pick up some deck planks and stair railings for a backyard project, you are sampling a global supply chain whose key customers are building contractors.

For B.C.’s wood re-manufacturers, it’s a world dominated by cheap wood from places like Russia and cheap labour from other low-regulation countries. One B.C. advantage is better wood, such as Pacific Coast hemlock and especially western red cedar, a favourite in Asia.

Rob Mitchell chairs BC Wood, representing the province’s value-added producers. Its members include Kalesnikoff Lumber in Castlegar, Masonite in Aldergrove, Gorman Brothers in West Kelowna and re-manufacturing divisions of big B.C. forest industry players Interfor and Western Forest Products.

Some are protected from the latest trade action launched by the U.S. lumber industry, because their finished products are sold to retailers and not considered “softwood lumber.” Even so, the focus for BC Wood is increasingly international, Mitchell said in an interview in Japan, where he joined the B.C. forest industry’s annual trade mission to Asia.

A rapidly growing Chinese middle class has meant a surge of tourism to Japan as well as to B.C., and a growing interest in Whistler-style resort accommodation in Asia.

“Four years ago BC Wood first started trying to promote that resort style,” Mitchell said. “It was probably before its time, but now it’s very much a growing sector in the Japanese market, and we’re back here to see what opportunities there are for us.”

Rob Mitchell of Maple Ridge-based BW Creative Railings visits Yuriagi Public Market in Natori, Japan, rebuilt with donated B.C. wood products after being destroyed in the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami, December 2016.

BC Wood hosts Canada’s largest global buyers’ conference each year in Whistler, attracting Asian buyers and sellers as well as those from the U.S. And in January 2017 alone, BC Wood is participating in builder shows in Honolulu, Orlando, Seoul and Munich.

Mitchell’s business is BW Creative Railings, selling stair and railing components around the world from its facilities in Maple Ridge.

One of its customers is Home Depot in the U.S., which until recently was bringing in finished hemlock interior stair parts as well as wrought iron from China. The B.C. business was efficient enough to supply the hemlock parts, which had been imported to China as lumber and re-manufactured there.

In Japan, BW Creative supplies Takahiro Lumber with outdoor deck and stair railings, which the company website promotes as using “Western red cedar from Canada.”

BW Creative has recently added a commercial multi-family division, expanding beyond the single-family home market.

Just Posted

Nearly $500,000 available for internships with First Nations government

Funds announced through partnership with Northern Development and Government of Canada

Falcons host basketball invitational

40 student volunteers helped support 180 players, 28 games

Atom Stars host hockey tourney

Seven teams from the region clashed sticks

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

High-end whisky seized in B.C. bar raids

Raids end in seizures at Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver whisky joints

Double-doubles and demonstrations: Employees rally outside Tim Hortons

Protests held in response to Ontario franchise owners cutting employee benefits and breaks

Train derails in Northwest B.C.

CN reports no injuries or dangerous goods involved after coal train derailment.

Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Stephen Paddock was behind the gunfire that killed 58 people including two Canadians

Botox, bomb shelters, and the blues: one year into Trump presidency

A look into life in Washington since Trump’s inauguration

Christopher Garnier appealing murder conviction in death of off-duty cop

Jury found Garnier guilty in December, rejecting his claim she died accidentally during rough sex

Transportation watchdog must revisit air passenger obesity complaint

Canadian Transportation Agency must take new look at Gabor Lukacs’ complaint against Delta Air Lines

Gas plants verdict coming down today; ex-premier’s top aides to learn fate

Verdict to be delivered on senior staff to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty

Most Read