Editorial: Let’s get along
May 31, 2018 - I write this just days after returning home from the BC Saw Filers Association annual convention, which this year took place April 26–28 in Kamloops. It was my second time attending the convention, and again this year I was struck by the level of camaraderie among filers representing most of the large and small producers in B.C., companies that would otherwise be seen as competitors.
It was a pleasure to witness around 160 filers mingle, share stories, discuss common problems and offer solutions. What a great example of tradespeople continuing their education, and honing their skills. It goes without saying that those filers who took full advantage of convention networking returned to their jobs with a greater knowledge of their craft. I saw something similar at the Truck Loggers Association convention in January.
If only we were all so lucky.
There are no similar regional conventions just for sawmill staff that I’m aware of. While there are some great large wood processing shows in both Canada and the U.S., and mill management benefit from larger association shows, the beauty of a smaller trades convention is in networking with people who share daily responsibilities and their inevitable challenges. I’m happy to be wrong, and please do let me know if I’ve overlooked an invaluable regional sawmill show.
The concern I’m flagging is that industry competition may be stifling opportunities to learn from one another. I can appreciate the need to protect proprietary technology, but has that been taken too far?
Think about your sawmill. Which employees have been to industry events, and were they able to network with other sawmillers to discuss common problems? How familiar are you with a neighbouring mill, their employees, and day-to-day challenges?
As with many of my recent columns, I can relate this back to employing and retaining the next generation of workers. Speaking as a millennial (and someone who has read up on the matter), I can confirm a large component of job satisfaction is having opportunities to get better at our jobs. As a journalist by trade I enjoy the chance to learn more about interviewing and writing, and as a new member of the forest industry, I’m eager to discuss how we can improve day-to-day operations, or even the industry as a whole.
Not all learning has to be face-to-face. My job affords me a unique opportunity to travel across the country to help share industry best practices and lessons learned in the following pages. My articles and profile stories bring me to remote logging operations and in some of Canada’s most impressive sawmills. Those companies that are willing to tell their stories not only help further our collective industry knowledge, but are also helping correct public misinformation about harvesting and wood products.
But there is something special about being in a room full of your peers discussing the industry outlook, unique solutions to challenges, and future innovations. How can we make sure this is happening?
I welcome your thoughts on these matters. Is competition suppressing the growth of our sector? Email me at email@example.com or call me at 226-931-1396, and let’s discuss opportunities to advance camaraderie and networking in the sawmill sector. My larger publishing company, Annex Business Media, has a team of event staff who are ready and willing to facilitate new shows and conventions. And as a national magazine, we can help spread word of any regional shows looking to drum up new attendees. Let’s embrace new opportunities for continual learning. Let’s get along.