Builders optimistic in the US

Builders optimistic in the US

The pace of housing construction stalled in June, with total housing starts falling 9.3 per cent for the month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 893,000.

Counterfeit tools on the rise

Counterfeit tools on the rise

Low quality, high danger as more counterfeit chainsaws are available.

Leadership in a changing climate

Leadership in a changing climate

Professionals are required to use the best available science in making our decisions, and so we recognize that climate change is occurring.

Climate change requires action in BC

Climate change requires action in BC

"Climate change is occurring and it has fundamental impacts on British Columbia's communities and ecosystems."

Stella-Jones uses customized loaders

Stella-Jones uses customized loaders

When it came to choosing a replacement for their aging log-handling equipment, the two site managers, working 500 miles apart, came to the same conclusion.

video
Some environmentalists exaggerate...
Quebec’s forests are not threatened, according to a new documentary and an Economic Note from the Montreal Economic Institute.Video location: QuebecRecording date: August 2014
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FPAC on innovation in forestry...
Catherine Cobden explains what is meant by innovation in forestry
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WorksafeBC cautions workers falling trees...
WorksafeBC cautions workers falling trees
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Edgewood optimized...
Edgewood optimized

Harvesting

Judge reserves decision on forestry plan

August 20, 2014, Fredericton, N.B. – A judge in New Brunswick is reserving her decision on whether or not a temporary injunction will be placed on the province’s forestry plan. According to a report from CBC New Brunswick, Justice Judy Clendening will deliver a decision on Friday at 1:30pm regarding the requested injunction filed by a group of First Nations Chiefs. The challenge is a result of the recently released New Brunswick forestry plan, which would provide increased access to the province’s Crown wood. First Nations Chiefs are claiming that the province did not meet its obligations to consult with them over a new plan, which they believe will cause significant damage to the province’s forests. For more on this story, CLICK HERE

Kenworth adds natural gas option to T880

August 18, 2014, Kirkland, Wash., – Kenworth Truck Company is adding a natural gas option for the Kenworth T880, the company’s flagship vocational truck. The Kenworth T880 day cab and 52-inch mid-roof sleeper configurations now can be specified with the factory-installed Cummins Westport ISX12 G 400-hp natural gas engine with 1,450 lb-ft of torque. The ISX12 G is available with manual, automatic and Eaton UltraShift® Plus transmission options, including 10-speed LAS and 13-speed MHP series. The natural gas option is ideal for Kenworth T880 dump trucks, mixer, refuse, pickup and delivery vehicles, and other applications operating with up to a maximum of 80,000-lb. gross combined vehicle weight (GCVW). The Cummins Westport ISX12 G can run on either CNG (compressed natural gas) or LNG (liquefied natural gas) fuel systems. The engine uses a maintenance-free, three-way catalyst and does not require a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank, diesel particulate filter (DPF) or selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology. Kenworth works with such companies as Agility Fuel Systems, Trilogy Engineered Solutions, and McNeilus to provide natural gas tanks and fueling systems. “Kenworth continually expands our product offerings to meet customer needs and requirements,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. “The new, natural-gas powered Kenworth T880 especially appeals to vocational fleets and truck operators interested in the T880’s excellent durability, reliabilty and driver comfort combined with cost-efficient natural gas.” The Kenworth T880 also includes an air-assisted hydraulic clutch, complex reflector headlamps, 5-piece Metton® hood for easier and faster repairs, and lightweight, factory-installed lift axles. The T880 uses Kenworth's 2.1-meter wide, stamped aluminum cab, which is robotically assembled. The cab has a comfortable 23 inches of room between the seats.  

Sawmilling

2015 Kenora sawmill start-up

Aug. 13, 2014 - After seeing a successful re-start of the Ear Falls Sawmill last week, Unifor has now reached a long-term contract with Kenora Forests Products (KFP) to re-start sawmill operations by the beginning of 2015. The new deal will also facilitate millions of dollars in capital investment for modernizing the mill and installing an additional saw line for expanded lumber production. Stephen Boon, Unifor National Representative, said, "a large amount of time and energy went into negotiating this deal and now the only remaining hurdle to resuming sawmill operations in Kenora is final Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) approval of the mill's wood supply. Kenora supported two sawmills and a large pulp and paper mill prior to 2005, so we are confident the MNR will have little trouble ensuring Kenora Forest Products secures the necessary wood supply crucial for restoring operations at one of the city's three closed mills. Boon said, "Kenora has been particularly hard hit by massive forestry job losses over the last decade and this new mill re-start deal promises to restore hundreds of direct and indirect jobs to the community while also providing key monetary and language improvements for over 100 unionized mill employees. Trades pay will reach almost $36/hour with production pay averaging close to $27/hour in the final year of this new agreement." Boon concluded, "a successful sawmill re-start is not only good news for the company, our members and the city of Kenora, but also for members of the area's Aboriginal community. In this new deal, Unifor and Kenora Forest Products committed to ensuring the area's Aboriginal groups also share the benefits of a re-opened sawmill by establishing a 30% employment target for Aboriginal participation in the mill's workforce." KEY TERMS OF DEAL- Deal starts in Fall of 2014 and runs until December 31, 2020Wage Increases – 18% over 6 yearsSeptember 19, 2015 - 3%September 19, 2016 - 3%September 19, 2017 - 3%September 19, 2018 - 3%September 19, 2019 - 3%September 19, 2020 - 3% - $3.65/hour immediate raise to $30/hour for certified trades- $840 per worker increase in employer annual pension contributions- one additional floating holiday- $.15 increase in shift differential up to $.75/hour during term- $400 annual tool allowance for trades- improved language related to benefits, sick pay, seniority, recall, bereavement, bumping and contracting out- commitment to promote 30% employment target for Aboriginal members in sawmill operations For more information, contact Stephen Boon, Unifor National Representative-Dryden, at (807) 323-0093.

New dust mitigation policies

August 6, 2014 - At its July 2014 meeting, WorkSafeBC's Board of Directors approved three new Occupational Health and Safety policies: D3-115-3, Employer Duties – Wood Dust Mitigation and ControlD3-116-2, Worker Duties - Wood Dust Mitigation and ControlD3-117-3, Supervisor Duties – Wood Dust Mitigation and Control The new policies have been developed to identify what WorkSafeBC considers reasonable steps for employers, workers, and supervisors to take in relation to the hazards of combustible wood dust. The employer policy applies to specific classification units for sawmills and wood products manufacturing listed in that policy. WorkSafeBC consulted with employer and worker representatives in June and early July of 2014. These policies will become effective September 1, 2014. A resource tool box and draft OHS Guideline will be posted on the WorkSafeBC website by August 15, 2014.

Industry news

Judge reserves decision on forestry plan

August 20, 2014, Fredericton, N.B. – A judge in New Brunswick is reserving her decision on whether or not a temporary injunction will be placed on the province’s forestry plan. According to a report from CBC New Brunswick, Justice Judy Clendening will deliver a decision on Friday at 1:30pm regarding the requested injunction filed by a group of First Nations Chiefs. The challenge is a result of the recently released New Brunswick forestry plan, which would provide increased access to the province’s Crown wood. First Nations Chiefs are claiming that the province did not meet its obligations to consult with them over a new plan, which they believe will cause significant damage to the province’s forests. For more on this story, CLICK HERE

FPInnovations' PIT Group earns funding for engine project

August 20, 2014, Pointe-Claire, Que. – FPInnovations has been awarded government funding for a truck engine programming project through its Performance Innovation Trucking (PIT) Group. "The entire road transport sector will benefit from the PIT Group's research on engine programming,” says Pierre Lapointe, President and CEO of FPInnovations. “In our opinion, a direct source of fuel savings is "waiting in the wings" behind engine programming, and a better understanding of engine programming will help all industries improve their energy performance." The initiative of "Programming commercial vehicle engines to reduce fuel consumption and emissions" will help develop parameters adapted to various applications, and then evaluate the potential cost savings and make the related knowledge public. This project will make it possible not only to optimize new engines, but also to develop programming devised for targeted uses that will contribute to optimizing or modifying the configuration of an engine when a truck's purpose is changed. The partners in this project include Cummins Eastern Canada and ASMAVERMEQ as well as the Société des Alcools du Québec and Cascades Transport Inc. FPInnovations’ research suggest that appropriate engine programming could represent fuel savings of 10-15 per cent.

Hyundai adds Hydromec to distributor network

August 20, 2014, Norcross, GA - Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas, Inc. has announced the addition of Hydromec, Inc. to their dealer network. Hydromec, Inc. will provide sales and service of Hyundai equipment from their dealership locations in Dolbeau-Mistassini and Chicoutimi, Quebec. “Hydromec, Inc. is a standout dealership who’s made it their mission to provide the best equipment, parts and service in their region. Like Hyundai, their customers are the central focus of their business,” states Kirk Gillette, Vice President of CE Sales at Hyundai Construction Equipment. “We’re delighted to have a dealer of this nature join our growing dealer network.” Hydromec, Inc. will now carry Hyundai’s full line of construction equipment, which includes wheel loaders, crawler and wheeled excavators, mini-excavators and skid-steers. The full stock of Hyundai equipment will be readily available for sale or rent. “Hyundai equipment is innovative and offers economical operation along with superior performance and comfort,” states Jean Trottier, President of Hydromec, Inc. “Hyundai is a true world class brand and we’re thrilled to offer our customers equipment of this quality. We look forward to a strong, successful partnership with the company.” Hydromec, Inc. sales staff has been fully trained in the application, sales, parts and service of Hyundai Construction Equipment products and offers prompt and professional parts and service support to its customers.  

BC, China sign wood-frame MOU

Aug. 13, 2014, Victoria - Efforts to expand export markets for B.C. lumber took a major step forward last night with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding designed to increase the use of wood-frame construction in China. Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson and Tan Yueming, Minister of Housing and Urban Rural Development in China's Zhejiang province, took part in the official signing ceremony via videoconference. The ceremony follows through on a commitment the two governments made last fall during Thomson's trade mission to China. The Province of Zhejiang had expressed interest in developing wood-frame construction expertise in its growing tourism sector and other applications. In China, memoranda of understanding are the first step toward increasing commercial activity. The MOU calls on the two governments to promote the use of environmentally friendly low-carbon, wood-frame construction, develop wood-frame construction codes and standards for application in China, and organize exchange visits for government and representatives to share technical and experience and knowledge. B.C. will also increase co-operation with Zhejiang on wood-frame construction research, with a specific focus on local construction needs in Zhejiang province, including government-funded public building projects and home renovations. In 2013, B.C. exported a record $1.4 billion worth of lumber to China, up from $1.1 billion in 2012. Zhejiang in China's tenth largest province (by population). The MOU will remain in effect for the next five years.

Wood Panels

Ainsworth election results

Aug. 14, 2014 - Ainsworth Lumber Co. Ltd. announced the results from its 2014 annual general meeting of shareholders held on August 12, 2014. All of the eight nominees listed in the Corporation's Management Proxy Circular dated July 3, 2014 proposed by management for election to the board of directors at the Meeting were elected to the board. The directors will remain in office until the next annual meeting of shareholders or until their successors are elected or appointed. The results of the vote on the election of the directors are as follows:                                 Votes in Favour                           Votes WithheldName                         #               %                           #                %---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Robert Chadwick   180,106,039   94.74                  9,997,575      5.26Paul Gagne           190,054,174   99.97                      49,440       0.03Peter Gordon        189,052,368   99.45                  1,051,246      0.55Paul Houston        190,053,174   99.97                       50,440      0.03John Lacey           189,990,074   99.94                     113,540      0.06Jim Lake               189,146,915   99.50                     956,699      0.50Gordon Lancaster 190,053,174   99.97                       50,440      0.03Pierre McNeil        189,052,515   99.45                  1,051,099      0.55

Ainsworth remains optimistic

Aug. 13, 2014, Vancouver – Ainsworth Lumber announced higher shipment volumes and a reduction in unit costs in its Q2 financial results. Ainsworth President and Chief Executive Officer, Jim Lake said, "North American OSB market conditions were relatively weak as the spring building season did not materialize as anticipated. North American benchmark OSB prices were stable relative to the prior quarter, although they were nearly 40% or U.S.$130/msf lower than the second quarter of 2013. Despite the slower pace of housing growth in the near-term, we are optimistic about the longer-term recovery and continued absorption of industry supply. The recent slower market environment in North America does highlight the strategic importance of our traditional export market in Japan as well as the progress we are making in markets such as China for new applications of OSB." Financial Results Sales of $117.4 million in the second quarter of 2014 were $10.1 million lower than sales of $127.5 million for the same period in 2013. The decrease in sales was mainly due to a 24% decrease in realized pricing. The impact of the U.S. benchmark declines on our realized pricing was moderated by the effect of a weaker Canadian dollar relative to the second quarter of 2013 and more stable export pricing in Japan, combined with a 21% increase in sales volumes due to additional production from High Level. In the first half of 2014, sales were $225.2 million compared to $269.3 million in the same period of 2013. The $44.1 million decrease was related to a 25% decrease in realized pricing, partially offset by an 11% increase in sales volumes and the same factors noted above. The increase in volume from High Level was partially offset by transportation issues that limited shipments during the first quarter of 2014. Adjusted EBITDA was $13.1 million in the second quarter of 2014 compared to $50.7 million in the same period of 2013, largely as a result of lower realized pricing. Notwithstanding the significant reduction in gross profit, net income from continuing operations in the second quarter of 2014 was $9.5 million higher than the prior year. This increase was largely due to fluctuations in non-cash accounting gains and losses and income tax expense combined with decreased selling and administration expense. Adjusted EBITDA for the first half of 2014 was $23.3 million compared to $113.2 million in 2013, due mainly to lower realized pricing. Net loss from continuing operations in the first six months of 2014 was $2.2 million, compared to net income of $39.3 million for the same period in 2013, representing a decrease of $41.5 million. The decrease reflected lower gross profit, partially offset by fluctuations in non-cash accounting gains and losses and income tax expense. Margins Adjusted EBITDA margin on sales for the second quarter of 2014 was 11.2% compared to 39.8% in the same period of 2013 (10.3% in the first half of 2014 compared to 42.0% in the same period of 2013). The decreases were largely related to lower realized pricing in North America. Benchmark OSB pricing remained stable during the second quarter of 2014, although down significantly from the same periods last year, with North Central and Western Canadian pricing for 7/16" OSB averaging U.S.$219 and U.S. $206 per msf, respectively, representing a decrease of 37% versus the second quarter of 2013. Sequentially, the North Central benchmark price remained flat, while the Western Canadian benchmark price decreased 6% versus the prior quarter. Liquidity At June 30, 2014, Ainsworth's available liquidity, consisting of cash and cash equivalents, was $103.2 million, a reduction of $34.2 million since December 31, 2013 resulting from our seasonal log inventory build, semi-annual interest payment and capital expenditures, combined with the timing of accounts receivable and accounts payable. Outlook While the pace of improvement has been slower than previously expected, we remain optimistic about the medium to long-term outlook as U.S. housing starts recover to more historical levels. Additionally, we continue to experience growth and stable pricing in our traditional export market of Japan. We are also continuing to advance our opportunities in export markets such as China for new applications of OSB. The restart of our High Level mill will allow us to meet the growing requirements of our existing North American and export customers as well as service new market segments over the longer term.

Remanufacturing

Moulding bull market rally

Aug. 13, 2014 - A wave of demand is coming and so are higher prices, concludes Peter Butzelaar the Vice President of International Wood Markets Group in his U.S. Clear Pine Lumber and Moulding Market Outlook: 2014-2018.  After enduring four years of declining demand of epic proportions, underlying demand is beginning to re-emerge. "Although not the strong start the industry was anticipating for 2014, the results in the second half of this year should build on the demand gains made in 2013," comments co-author Russell Taylor. WOOD MARKETS is projecting U.S. housing starts to surpass 1 million starts in 2014 followed by an additional 125,000 starts in 2015. As the labour market and income levels improves, housing demand will see accelerating growth as will residential repair and remodelling (R&R) - the two main drivers of moulding demand. However, due to mill closures, supply chain consolidation, and limited supplies of domestic clear pine fiber, traditional moulding supply in North America is forecast to struggle to keep up with demand. For more information on the report, go to www.woodmarkets.com.

Stella-Jones sales up 23%

Aug. 11, 2014, Montreal - Stella-Jones announced financial results for its second quarter ended June 30, 2014. Sales reached $344.8 million, up 22.7% from $280.9 million in the same period last year. "Solid industry demand for Stella-Jones' core products and the contribution from recent acquisitions led to a strong sales growth in the second quarter of 2014. As railway tie and utility pole replacement programs continue to gain momentum, our proven ability to respond to product and service requirements enables us to further penetrate our markets. As anticipated, higher costs for untreated railway ties had a negative effect on profitability. However, strong sales growth and our continued focus on optimizing our plant network resulted in a year-over-year increase in net income," said Brian McManus, President and Chief Executive Officer. SECOND QUARTER RESULTS Sales reached $344.8 million, up 22.7% from $280.9 million in the same period last year. The operating assets acquired from The Pacific Wood Preserving Companies ("PWP") on November 15, 2013 and from Boatright Railroad Products, Inc. ("Boatright") on May 22, 2014 contributed sales of $12.0 million and $3.7 million, respectively. The conversion effect from fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar, Stella-Jones' reporting currency, versus the U.S. dollar, increased the value of U.S.-dollar denominated sales by about $18.0 million when compared with the previous year. Excluding these factors, sales increased approximately $30.2 million, or 10.8%. Railway tie sales amounted to $141.5 million, up 18.1% from $119.8 million a year earlier. Excluding sales from the PWP and Boatright assets, as well as the conversion effect, railway tie sales rose approximately $7.7 million, or 6.4%, reflecting solid market demand from replacement programs. Sales of utility poles reached $121.6 million, up from $95.1 million last year. Excluding sales from the PWP assets and the conversion effect, utility pole sales increased $14.0 million, or 14.7%, as a result of larger customer orders for distribution and transmission poles stemming from increased demand from replacement programs and certain special projects. Sales in the residential lumber category totalled $49.4 million, versus $41.3 million a year ago, mainly reflecting solid demand in Western Canada and the United States. Industrial product sales reached $25.1 million, up from $17.0 million last year due to the contribution of the PWP and Boatright assets as well as increased sales of rail-related products. Finally, non-pole-quality log sales amounted to $7.2 million, versus $7.7 million a year ago, as a result of the timing of timber harvesting. Operating income stood at $41.6 million, or 12.1% of sales, versus $41.0 million, or 14.6% of sales, last year. The decrease as a percentage of sales is mainly due to higher year-over-year costs for untreated railway ties, partially offset by greater efficiencies throughout the company's plant network. Results for the second quarter of 2014 also include a $1.6 million write-off of certain property, plant and equipment in the United States and acquisition-related costs of $616,000 in connection with the Boatright transaction. Net income for the second quarter of 2014 increased 9.1% to $28.8 million or $0.42 per share, fully diluted, compared with $26.4 million or $0.38 per share, fully diluted, in the second quarter of 2013. SIX-MONTH RESULTSFor the six-month period ended June 30, 2014, sales amounted to $602.3 million, versus $503.5 million for the same period in 2013. Acquisitions accounted for total sales of $28.9 million, while the conversion effect from fluctuations in the value of the Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar had a positive year-over-year impact of $34.3 million on the value of U.S. dollar denominated sales. Excluding these factors, sales increased approximately $35.7 million, or 7.1%. Operating income was $76.4 million, or 12.7% of sales, up from $70.6 million, or 14.0% of sales, last year. Net income reached $51.3 million, or $0.74 per share, fully diluted, compared with $45.2 million, or $0.65 per share, fully diluted, a year ago. FINANCIAL POSITIONAs at June 30, 2014, the company's long-term debt, including the current portion, stood at $456.8 million compared with $407.0 million three months earlier. The variation essentially reflects working capital requirements and the acquisition of Boatright. To partially finance this acquisition, the company's committed revolving credit facility was increased from $400.0 million to $450.0 million. As at June 30, 2014, an amount of $391.7 million had been drawn against this facility. As a result of this higher debt, Stella-Jones' total debt to total capitalization ratio was 0.43:1 as at June 30, 2014, versus 0.40:1 three months earlier. OUTLOOK"We expect healthy demand for our core products for the remainder of the year driven by a better economy and sound fundamentals in our main sectors of activity. With regards to higher cost for untreated railway ties, margins will be impacted in the short term, until we are able to adjust selling prices as per provisions in most of Stella-Jones' multi-year contracts. Further profitability improvements will also be driven by sustained initiatives to optimize efficiency across our expanded North American network following recent acquisitions," concluded Mr. McManus.

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