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TLA Show Upbeat

The mood was upbeat at The B.C. Truck Loggers Association annual conference and trade show held in mid-January in Victoria.


November 15, 2011
By Bill Tice

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Despite tough times for B.C.’s coastal forest industry, there were surprising signs of optimism at this year’s Truck Loggers Association (TLA) convention, which for the first time in the organization’s history, was held in the provincial capital city of Victoria.

“Coming into the convention, there was a fair bit of pessimism in an economic sense, especially given the continued weakness in the sector and the dismal harvest levels witnessed in 2009,” said Dave Lewis, the executive director of the TLA.  “There is also a certain level of uncertainty that comes with a venue change, particularly when it is a brand new venue – such as Victoria.  However, the response was positive in terms of attendance as we had 1,200 delegates register for the event.”

The two-day conference and trade show was kicked off with the TLA’s Annual General Meeting where Graham Lasure of WD Moore Logging Ltd. was named as the organization’s new president. The “Premier’s Luncheon” was also held on day one with B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell delivering the keynote address to a sold out crowd. Although Campbell delivered an upbeat message, his speech received mediocre reviews from many in the crowd as it was primarily a remix of old news.

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On day two, a panel discussion with some of the industry’s heavy hitters drew a large breakfast crowd. B.C. Minister of Forests Pat Bell, Avrim Lazar of the Forest Products Association of Canada, Russ Taylor from International Wood Markets and Levi Sampson, who is the head of employee owned Nanaimo Forest Products (formerly Harmac Pulp), made up the panel. Topics ranged from new markets in China to bioenergy and log exports. “If every person in china purchased one 8 ft. 2×6 that would consume the entire production of the province of British Columbia for a year,” said Bell, putting the Chinese market into perspective.

The trade show floor was one of the busiest places at the convention with many of the province’s big heavy equipment dealers setting up shop next to suppliers of everything from tires to log scaling software. The mood at the trade show was also upbeat and optimistic.

“I look at what’s going on here today and we have been open for a couple of hours now and we have had a good solid crowd come through,” said Brian Mulvihill, branch manager of Finning Canada’s Surrey, B.C., facility. “Most of the visitors to our booth have been positive, but realistic in their outlook of what is going on economically in the forest industry. I think we are definitely seeing a more upbeat crowd than we had at this same event in Vancouver a year ago and people are starting to make equipment buying decisions again.”

Stephen Davidson, who was manning the Liehberr Canada booth at the TLA show was also optimistic about the direction the industry is heading. “We are seeing improvement in our equipment sales across the country,” he said. “We are getting lots of prospects, lots of calls, and machines are going out on demo. We are seeing the most activity in B.C., Alberta and Quebec.”

Next year, the TLA convention and show will move back to Vancouver.