A worker at his station in the Conifex mill.

A worker at his station in the Conifex mill.

Conifex deemed award-winning exporter

Conifex Timber Inc. was awarded the New Exporter Award at the end of October.

Conifex Timber Inc. was awarded the New Exporter Award by the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters BC Division and the ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation at the end of October.

The company was one of nine companies recognized for excellence in B.C. export in 2011 at a gala celebration at the Hyatt Regency in Vancouver. There were 28 finalists for the award, with the finalists announced in September then invited to attend the gala presentation.

“It recognizes us as one of the new and upcoming players in the industry,” said Lorraine Ducharme, a human resources representative for Conifex.

The 29th year of the awards found a Fort St. James company on the list thanks to a nomination back in July by Emily Colombo, the District of Fort St. James Economic Development Officer.

“It’s good recognition for business,” said Colombo.

She thought Conifex would be a good fit for the award because of how fast the company has been able to increase their exports so much since they began.

“It’s just been hand over hand that their exports have gone up,” said Colombo.

According to the award application by Colombo, Conifex began exporting internationally in 2009 with $20 million in export sales, which was 75 per cent of total sales. This amount has been increasing since, and in 2011 they estimate  a value of $345 million will be exported, which will represent 80 per cent of their annual production.

Conifex expanded their exports with the help of marketing through a third party company called Welco Timber Corp..

Conifex is now purchasing Welco, so Conifex will essentially have their own in-house marketing department as of January 2012, according to Ducharme.

Conifex has one mill located in Fort St. James and two in Mackenzie and exports to Japan, China, India, Mexico, Pakistan, South Africa and the United States.

The application also drew attention to the innovation Conifex has shown through their initiative to develop a bioenergy cogeneration plant in Mackenzie which will use wood waste to power their operations, and sell back excess power to BC Hydro. The bioenergy plant is expected to be up and running by the second quarter of 2013.

Conifex Timber Inc. bought the mill in Fort St. James in 2008 and purchased their two Mackenzie mills in 2010.