Duz Cho Logging, a company 100 per cent owned by the McLeod Lake Indian Band, received the Aboriginal Forest Products Business Leadership Award from the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC).
The Assembly of First Nations and FPAC together created this annual award to recognize forest products companies that exemplify business leadership, exceptional environmental and safety performance and the delivery of high quality products and services.
The award marks a dramatic turnaround for the 24-year old company.
The band’s companies were facing bankruptcy in 2008 when British Columbia’s forest industry was hit hard by the mountain pine beetle devastation coupled with the world economic crisis.
Chief Derek Orr of the McLeod Lake Indian Band says, “We are honoured to win this award. For a small First Nation in the middle of B.C., this recognition speaks to how First Nations can be a part of the economy by providing jobs and services like any other company.”
That statement is echoed by Don Kayne, CEO for Canfor Products, who was supported by Conifex and Mackenzie Fibre in nominating Duz Cho Logging for the award.“Duz Cho is an outstanding business and pillar in the McLeod Lake community. We have worked with them for many years and they continue to deliver top quality product,” says Kayne.
Duz Cho Logging is a major regional employer in central B.C., with 140 people on the payroll; 20 per cent of whom are Aboriginal.
Chief Derek Orr says, “We’ve gone from almost losing everything to having many opportunities as we look into the future.
The key will be to manage our growth so that profits from Duz Cho Logging and our other companies can continue to help fund the health, education and cultural programs for our community.”
Profits from Duz Cho Logging and McLeod Lake Indian Band’s other companies, Duz Cho Construction and Summit Pipeline Services, helped fund a new child care centre that opened in 2011.
These three companies combined are forecasting gross sales of approximately $140 million for 2012.
Duz Cho Logging actively supports local community projects by donating to the graduating class of the local high school in nearby Mackenzie, B.C., and to a student bursary at the College of New Caledonia.
These community investments are helping to encourage active First Nations participation in the forest products industry.“The Canadian forest products industry applauds the success of Duz Cho. The industry is seeking to expand its horizons in products lines, in new markets and in recruiting new workers. Our Vision2020 goals rely on entrepreneurs and smart businesses such as Duz Cho Logging to reach these ambitious goals,” says Catherine Cobden, President and CEO of the Forest Product Association of Canada.
Duz Cho Logging was founded in 1988 by the McLeod Lake Indian Band and has grown to become one of B.C.’s largest logging contractors.
In 2011, Duz Cho Logging had revenue of $28 million and in 2012 it is forecasting revenue of $38 million.
The McLeod Lake Indian Band’s traditional territory covers 108,000 square kilometers.
The band has 500 members with 100 living on reserve in McLeod Lake, located 150 km north of Prince George.
Another 150 band members make their homes in the communities of Mackenzie, Chetwynd, and Prince George and the remaining members live throughout North America. The band is primarily funded through its investments and businesses.