Wood Business

Features Opinions
Spring into action: CFI’s latest issue out now!

The March madness of industry events has started

April 12, 2023  By  Jennifer Ellson

CFI's March/April issue is now available.

Ah, spring.

The time of the year when we have more daylight, snow is finally melting, and temperatures are gradually climbing. 

There are many signs of life after the harshness of winter, and here’s to hoping these signs of life flow over to towns where local mills shut operations. 

Spring is also when the March madness of industry events restarts. 


CFI, together with our sister publications Canadian Biomass and Pulp and Paper Canada, kicked off March with our successful Women in Forestry Virtual Summit, drawing more than 800 participants from more than 20 countries. 

I am currently writing this from Quebec City, where we just held a successful one-day education forum, OptiSaw. It’s our annual closed-door event exclusive to those driving the future of sawmilling: owners, management, process engineers, optimization staff, researchers and design consultants. 

Listening to presentations about cutting-edge technologies in sawmilling was mind-blowing. It was easy to forget we were in a room full of sawmillers, and not medical staff, as I listened to the latest innovations in X-rays and CT scans. There were times when it felt like it was a meeting among Hollywood bigwigs as BID Group and Finnos talked about AI-powered automation and robots talking to each other via fingerprint technologies. 

During his presentation, MiCROTEC’s CTO described it as a “room full of nerds, and I am the chief nerd,” to the laughter of the room full of some 50 people. In fact, one nerd, I mean presenter, Tim Melburn of Arrow Speed Controls, described himself as a Jedi-level engineer as he presented about Big Data and IoT technologies. 

One thing that was very noticeable, though, was the lack of more female nerds in the industry. There were only three women in the room – two were staff, myself included – and the other was Heather Boyd, executive director of the Forestry Sector Council in Nova Scotia, who uncannily enough spoke about recruitment strategies in the forest sector during our Women in Forestry virtual event.

“Inclusion is not just about checking boxes,” Heather said. “It’s about ensuring all people in your workforce feel like they belong.” A diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy is a good place to start, but that needs to be a working document, consistently reviewed and not shelved, she said. I am certainly hoping that future OptiSaw and other events will see more female nerds. 

I received a lot of uplifting and positive comments about the event, and the industry, at OptiSaw, but one that really stuck was from a presenter, UBSafe’s Ian Rood, who said, “conference talks are great, but in-person networking is even better.” 

Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous cancellations of in-person networking and learning events, but now full in-person conferences and trade shows seem to be coming back with a bang after last year’s slow return with pandemic-enforced virtual or hybrid events.

In fact, this issue we nicknamed the “conference issue”, because you will probably be picking this up at the BC Council of Forest Industries’ convention in Prince George, B.C., the Montreal Wood Convention, both happening in April, or at the BC Saw Filers’ Association conference in Kamloops, B.C., in May.

CFI is thrilled to be at these events. Check out our event previews to help you plan for these conventions and exhibitions. 

And as always, there is lots to digest in this issue. For our feature story, I visited ATCO Wood Products in the beautiful small village of Fruitvale in the Kootenay region of B.C., where I met the inspiring Weatherford family who keeps on keeping on despite many challenges. And talk about inspiring – our managing editor Maria Church sat with the ever-inspiring and charismatic Lenny Joe, the new CEO of the B.C. First Nations Forestry Council.

So let’s keep on inspiring each other, and see you soon at one of the industry’s in-person events.

Read the March/April issue now!

Print this page


Stories continue below