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

B.C. Green Party pushes for wild salmon commissioner

The role would serve as a unifying force in the provincial government

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf will not sail until mid-July

BC Ferries had hoped to get the vessel in September of last year, but it didn’t arrive until December

UPDATED: Horgan says B.C. defending its interests in Trans Mountain pipeline

Canadian finance minister’s update comes the same day Kinder Morgan shareholders plan to meet

5 things to know about B.C. Floods 2018

Snowpacks continue to melt causing thousands to be displaced, dozens of local states of emergency

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

UPDATED: More than half of flood evacuees in Kootenay-Boundary allowed to return home

Officials hope to have all 3,000 people back in their homes by Monday night

B.C. Lions bring back 6-time all-star offensive lineman Jovan Olafioye

He was acquired by the Montreal Alouettes last year.

Whitecaps rally for 2-2 draw with FC Dallas

Vancouver climbed out of a two-nil hole to tie FC Dallas 2-2

B.C. VIEWS: Making sense of climate policy

Flood and fire predictions have poor track record so far

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: As floodwaters recede, crews assess the damage to Grand Forks’ downtown

More than four dozen firefighters and building inspectors came out to help

Wellington Dukes pull off epic upset of Wenatchee at RBC Cup

The Dukes are off to the championship game after downing the Wild 2-1 Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Most Read