Oct. 8, 2014 - Last year, Canadian Forest Industries turned the spotlight on the best and brightest young professionals in the nation’s forest industry. We recognized the efforts of 20 exceptional individuals who are providing an example for the next generation of young adults looking to this industry as a possible career to provide a secure future for themselves and their future families.
In 2014, we introduce 12 more of the industry’s best who have made a significant impact on the business at a relatively young age. Yes, this is the Top 10 under 40 but, as you will read, one family has produced three children that have gone on to excel in forestry.
We want to thank everyone who has provided nominations for this year’s list. Our staff was in awe of the 38 nominations we received for this important list, providing us with weeks of difficult decision-making as we worked the list down to the individuals featured on this list.
Without further ado, we present the Canadian Forest Industries Top 10 under 40.
Cory Poggemoeller – Owner, Richwood Fencing, Enderby, B.C.
Cory Poggemoeller has created a strong business from simple beginnings.
He purchased a simple hut with chop saw business that was losing money in 2005 and turned it into a successful international business that supports the community. In addition to the work he does as owner of his own business, Richwood Fencing Ltd., Corey is also part owner and operations manager of North Enderby Timber, a long-time family-run business.
His brand, Richwood, is recognized by major contractors, warehouses and distributors across North America. Specializing in Cedar Tongue & Groove, Channel and Bevel, his plans are to continue to grow and change as market demands shift.
Cory has also grown as a professional despite facing life-altering adversity. Richwood Fencing’s plant and kiln burnt to the ground in January 2012. He lost the entire plant, but, even though it was extremely tragic for him, he kept all of his employees working. The result is that he has been able to rebuild the facility into an amazing 8500 sq. ft. plant that is more efficient.
He is active in the forest industry and in 2014 received the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Award, was nominated as Business of the Year as well as Exporter of the Year. He believes in training his employees and encouraging them to learn new skills even organizing additional training through the target skills shortage program. His vision continuously inspires others to go further and try new things.
Marc Legros - Wood supply director, Prolam,
Born in Tourville, a small town near St-Jean-Port-Joli, Marc Legros was not destined to become a wood expert. After a first formation in industrial design, he found no job. He found his vocation when he decided to follow a friend at l’École de foresterie de Duchesnay for timber measurement and sorting formation. That’s where the passion grew. “It’s a great sector, because I am always working with passionate people,” he said.
He rapidly specialized in hardwood supply and 3rd transformation for house and trucks flooring. He started working for Nilus Leclerc, a wood flooring company, before making a jump at PLB, into the hockey sticks manufacturing for a few years. Among other things, he worked 12 years for Les Bois Plancher PG as the main wood buyer where he helped implement a FSC forest certification chain of custody. “We need to take great care of our forest and harvest it properly to make sure it last.” Last year, Marc also became a teacher at l’École de foresterie de Duchesnay.
More recently, in April, he decided he was ready for new challenges when he moved to Prolam, a large flooring company in the Chaudières-Appalaches region. Hired as the wood supply assistant, it didn’t take long before he was promoted as the new wood supply director of the company who transforms 30 million board feet of lumber every year. With their sister company, Boa-Franc Mirage, they have a staff of over 600.
“It’s great to be part of a growing company, I am ready for the challenge,” said Legros. “I love my job. I love to see the utility wood has in everyday life.”
Transforming this noble renewable resource is simply a pleasure for Marc Legros.
Craig Reid – Owner, Northwesy Forest Resources Ltd., Deer Lake, Nfld.
Craig Reid has an admirer in Corner Brook Pulp and Paper (CBPP), thanks to his long track record of providing quality logs for the mill.
Northwest Forest Resources (NWFR), owned by Craig Reid, was recently selected as Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s Contractor of the Year for 2013.
NWFR was selected as the best contractor based on their superior performance during the year in the areas of safety, quality, production, environment, utilization and overall efficiency. They are also the most improved contractor in terms of their 2012-2013 KPI scores, according to CBPP. Craig credits much of this turnaround to the new foreman they hired after last year, Chris Curnew. Chris is a very experienced and skilled forest technician who has greatly increased NWFR’s technical ability in the areas of GPS and FPDat and handles many operational aspects of the company.
NWFR has been producing pulpwood for the Corner Brook mill for almost 30 years and has had three generations involved in the company. In recent years, NWFR has also been harvesting sawlogs and fuelwood as required.
NWFR is also a very community-minded company. This is illustrated by their longtime involvement in the Log a Load for Kids hockey tournament. In fact, this year the NWFR team won the tournament as the highest fund raising group with $7700 raised for this very deserving charity.
In today’s very competitive industry, only the strong and innovative contractors survive. This is a very competitive business and in order to stay strong contractors have to look at ways to increase productivity and reduce costs. Their organization has been in existence for 29 years and there is no doubt they will be around for many years to come. The wealth of knowledge in all aspects of the operation from trucking, harvesting, forwarding, to the business side of things will ensure this company remains strong.
Domenico Iannidinardo - Chief Forester & V.P. Sustainability, TimberWest, Nanaimo, B.C.
Domenico Iannidinardo has been a bright star of the B.C. forest industry for more than a decade despite still being just 37 years old.
Domenico is the Chief Forester and Vice President of Sustainability for TimberWest, Western Canada’s largest private landowner and one of the largest forest companies in the country.
At the age of 28, Domenico achieved concurrent registration as a professional forester (RPF), engineer (PEng) and biologist (RPBio) – the first ever to do so in B.C. Since then, he has added an MBA, started a family, had two children and continues to extend his involvement with the community by serving as a director with the Marmot Recovery Foundation and Forest Genetics Councils.
He also spearheads a multi-year agreement to fund the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s stream restoration efforts. In addition, he is the President of the Association of Professional Biologists which advocates for sound resource management policy on behalf of over 1000 biologists.
Throughout all of this, Domenico always knows where his roots are (he started as a field engineer, climbing the hills and fighting forest fires) and he makes time for students, colleagues and friends alike – always quick to help out others with his experience and sage advice.
Kris Heideman - Vice President, Heideman Forest Services, Eganville, Ont.
Kris Heideman has worked hard to keep his family’s company running full speed ahead in the face of many challenges.
Kris has been credited with the company’s ability to run their two sawmills’ two shifts while others made huge cutbacks or temporary closures during the recent recession.
Kris recently showed his business savvy in putting together a perfect acquisition, purchasing Pembroke Lumber Company. Instead of selling Heideman’s white pine production green and rough to Pembroke Lumber, Heideman Forest Services will now produce a finished, dry, dressed product packaged for the retailers of Ontario as a result of the business purchase. This is a great move to stay competitive against the U.S., Eastern-seaboard white pine producers who certainly have made inroads to the Ontario market.
Kris, along with his hard-earned business degree, has helped take the small sawmill operation to over 100 employees today, and I do believe there are further plans for expansion in the not too distant future.
His strong business acumen has helped make Kris a valuable young asset to the forest industry in Ontario and across Canada.
Harpal Aulakh – Millwright, West Fraser, Quesnel, B.C.
Harpal Aulakh’s hard work has helped this young forester become a highly-regarded asset at West Fraser
Harpal started his career with West Fraser at the young age of 16, working part time as a maintenance staffer. Two years later, at the age of 18, Harpal moved up to full-time staff, taking on greater responsibilities as part of his new role. He continued his education and, a few years later, he received his B grading ticket. The following year he continued to work hard and earned his A grading ticket.
He has mastered all jobs in the planer mill, and also was a kilns attendant. He then received an opportunity to become a millwright apprentice. He has achieved above 95% in his first two years of schooling. With the knowledge of knowing how the machine is run, he is able to troubleshoot and figure out problems quite quickly. He has also set the planer up to hit the millstone piece count on his shift of 70,000-plus pieces counts not just once but twice on two different shifts.
He is truly an invaluable asset for the team at West Fraser.
Jason Rouillard - Owner/Logging Contractor, Jason Rouillard Logging Ltd., Thunder Bay, ON
Jason Rouillard has earned the respect of the forest industry, working hard to establish his company in a difficult lumber industry in northwestern Ontario.
Jason and his company are among the logging contractors with a Timber Harvesting Contract with Resolute Forest Products in Thunder Bay, Ont.
His father, Rosaire, was a 32-year veteran of the industry who retired in 2004 from, appropriately, Bowater. After his retirement, the elder Rouillard was his son’s biggest supporter in helping to grow the success of Jason’s logging business.
Jason is an intelligent businessman who manages all aspects of his business from payroll, machine repairs, and harvesting layout. He also manages and hires his own employees to help grow his business.
In a tough business that saw the closure of many sawmills and logging operations, Jason and his team have remained an integral component of the northwestern-Ontario logging business thanks to his product quality, dependability and attention to detail.
Jeannie, Benoit and Francis Carrier – Les Gestions N.A. Carrier – La Tuque, Que.
Surrounded by hundreds of kilometers of forest in every direction, La Tuque is a true hub of forest entrepreneurs. In this small town of 12,000, the name Carrier is a heavyweight in the forest industry. Following the legacy of Nil-André Carrier, Jeannie, 36, Benoit, 37, and Francis, 38, are now bringing the family’s company to another dimension.
In the 90s, while at the head of his own company, the father helped his sons to start their own business as contractors in the wood transport sector and in forest road construction business, while Jeannie was in charge of the accounting of the three companies. In 2012, they merged to be all part of Les Gestions N.A. Carrier.
The company now owns a fleet of 50 machines for road construction purposes, gravel transport and snow clearing. Every year, the company’s 50 employees gravel around 100 km of forest road while making 60 km of new route.
The forestry crisis forced the entrepreneurs to diversify their source of contract with Hydro-Québec and the municipality to survive and grow. However, forestry remains the core business. ”I can’t imagine a future without the forest. I really believe in this industry,” states Francis, who is specialized in industrial mechanics.
Benoit works on informatics systems electromechanics. To complete the sublime trio, Jeannie takes care of the administration and human resources. She is also at the head of the local Chamber of commerce.
“The three families live a few hundred meters from the business and all the young kids are already showing great entrepreneur’s skills,” says Jeannie.
A new generation growing up with the forest fever.
Mark Ross - Co-Owner, M&R Ross Logging, Pictou County, N.S.
Mark Ross is a modest, family-oriented, East Coast fellow who demonstrates the epitome of strong work ethic.
Mark and his father Robert started their own logging company in 2001. Prior to this, Mark’s father worked in the industry, seasonally exporting Christmas trees to the United States. However, when Mark showed interest in the industry Robert was quick to realize they could do so much more – and they did just that. Instead of working for another contractor, Robert and Mark took the initiative to start their own business, purchase mechanical equipment and work for themselves, demonstrating strong leadership, courage and commitment.
The company started with a cable skidder doing selective cutting in hardwoods and along brook buffers. Now, Mark and his father employ 19 people and the company does logging, chipping, road building and trucking.
Staying true to his character, Mark adopted a hands-on approach to training his staff. Rather than just hiring an experienced operator from another contractor, Mark gives the opportunity to the younger generation, training less experienced teenagers.
“He does it all,” says Wajax Sales Manager (and friend), Sandy Hodgson. “If he has to be a spare mechanic – he will. If he has to be the HR guy to hire and fire – he does it. If he needs to get up at 3:00 am to help move equipment – you can count on him to be there.”
Tony Madia - V.P. Corporate Development, Conifex Timber, Vancouver, B.C.
Antonia (Tony) Madia joined Conifex in 2010 as the Vice President of Corporate Development and has led the development, financing, and construction of Conifex’s 36 MW Power Project in Mackenzie, British Columbia.
Tony has spent 16 years gaining diverse experience in a variety of roles within both the private and public sector in including: British Columbia Forest Service, Weldwood of Canada, Canfor and West Fraser Timber. His direct experience includes: operational forestry, sawmill maintenance and management, divisional and corporate accounting and strategic planning. With his multi-disciplinary skillset in forestry, finance, operations and maintenance, Tony is uniquely suited to his current executive leadership role in Corporate Development.
Tony is known across the industry as a super achiever and respected for his forestry knowledge, financial acumen, and focused work ethic. Tony saw the opportunity to repurpose the idle newsprint assets Conifex inherited through its purchase of the Mackenzie mill into a best in class biomass power plant. The bioenergy project utilizes 172,000 oven-dried tons of sawmill residuals, producing 36 MW of clean energy, and generating $14-15 million in annual EBITDA for the company.
Tony demonstrates all the qualities of a strong leader: natural curiosity, sharp intelligence, and fierce determination. His commitment to Conifex’s vision of building Canada’s premier forest products company also enables him to attract, inspire, and manage a high performing team.
Tony Madia is an example of how exceptional young leaders are driving forest product sector transformation in Canada.
Congratulations to our finalists and to everyone who was nominated for our list this year.
Don’t miss your opportunity to nominate your top young workers next year as we introduce 10 more exemplary professionals who are achieving incredible results in the national forest industry before the age of 40.