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Top 10 under 40: recognizing future leaders

October 13, 2015 - The staff of Canadian Forest Industries magazine are once again honoured to present our Top 10 under 40, recognizing the incredible work of the next generation of our nation’s forestry sector.

October 13, 2015  By Staff report

This year, we were once again tasked with the difficulty of choosing just 10 individuals to acknowledge. There were many stories that poured in from coast to coast, telling us of the young workers that deserved to be a part of our top 10.

These 10 individuals come from a wide range of jobs, communities and educational backgrounds. They are a mix of first-generation foresters and those following in the footsteps of siblings, parents and grandparents that came before them in Canada’s forest industry. But what they all have in common is that they are making important contributions to the industry.

So without further delay, allow us to introduce you to this year’s Canadian Forest Industries Top 10 under 40.

Benjamin Dufour
Director of forest operations, Boisaco, Sacré- Coeur, Qc
Born and raised in the small forest community of Sacré-Coeur, home of 2,000 souls in the Cote-Nors of Québec, Benjamin Dufour grew up as a forester. As a youngster, he followed his dad, a forest entrepreneur, into the woods to work on forestry machines anytime he could. All around town, the big talk was forestry, as Boisaco was, and still is, the community’s biggest employer with over 700 workers.


After high school his career path was clear, and he went to study forestry at the Cegep de Chicoutimi. Every summer, he would come back to his hometown to work for Boisaco. He first worked in inventory, and then became an assistant supervisor in his second year. After graduating school with a technical diploma, he was hired as a forestry technician. And with an aging workforce, opportunities quickly presented themselves, and Benjamin became a supervisor in a short period of time.

“Youth with good potential have very good opportunities at Boisaco,” Benjamin says.

Not only is he now the director of forest operations, supervising over 300 workers, he is also the general manager of the Sainte-Marguerite workers cooperative, which has over 60 members.

Now 37 years old, he is proud to be an active player in his community, working for a business that is always productive, looking for news ways to optimize wood value.

“We saw timber, but we also make panels, pellets and horse litter out of the wood we harvest”, he says.

According to Benjamin, diversifying is simply the future of the industry.

Russell Arnot
Senior technical manager, Klondike Lubricants, Vancouver, B.C.
Russell Arnot joined what is currently known as Klondike Lubricants Corp. at the age of 20.

In 2009, the Western Canadian forest industry was faced with the mountain pine beetle epidemic. Millions of hectares of infected trees had to be removed quickly throughout mountainous terrains. Contractors tasked with the harvest were faced with a host of unexpected problems. In addition to facing extreme weather conditions, this softwood species was dead and extremely dry. Due to lack of moisture in the wood, commercial falling operators reported bars warping and chains breaking at an excessive rate making for a difficult, costly and inefficient cutting operation.

Determined to help both the environment and the logging industry in Western Canada, Russell initiated the engineering of an advanced bar and chain oil. He used his knowledge and expertise in the formulation of specialty lubricants and worked directly with respected commercial falling companies and wear component distributors to offer a solution to this costly and inefficient cutting process. The utilization of premium, high-grade base oils, advanced tackifier and anti-wear agents, resulted in an exclusive bar and chain oil formulation which demonstrated the ability to cut lubricant consumption by significantly reducing overall waste, improving equipment operation, and hastening efficiencies in the cutting process.

Today, at age 34, Russell is senior technical manager at Klondike Lubricants, managing a portfolio of more than 270 oils, greases and specialty fluids.

Cassie Turple
Communications coordinator, Ledwidge Lumber, Enfield, N.S.
Cassie Turple joins the Top 10 under 40 with a strong family history of involvement and leadership in the forest industry in Nova Scotia.

When Cassie stepped into her two-year term as president of the Forest Products Association of Nova Scotia (FPANS) in early 2014, she also set her own mark in the history books. Not only did she follow in her grandfather’s footsteps in the president’s role (the first family duo to do so), she also became the first female president in the association’s near 80-year history.

Cassie is often an outspoken advocate for all aspects of the industry, from forest management to its impact on the rural economy and private landowners’ rights. Cassie is ready and willing to step in front of a camera or sit at the keyboard and type to share a point of view on any topic that impacts the industry.

Cassie’s industry involvement extends past FPANS. She has also spent time in leadership roles with the Canadian Woodlands Forum, Nova Forest Alliance, and the Wood Product Manufacturers Association of Nova Scotia, among others. In 2008, Cassie was also a key member of her family team at Ledwidge Lumber that played host to Canadian Woodlands Forum’s DEMO International.

Away from her forestry work life, Cassie plays a vital role in her husband’s stock car racing team. And last but not least, there’s her new favourite role – she’s Mom to her little guy, Thomas.

Erin Burdikin
Operations forester, West Fraser,  Fraser Lake, B.C.
Erin Burdikin has become an integral part of one of Western Canada’s largest lumber producers.

Erin is an extremely hard worker who has become a registered professional forester with the Association of BC Forest Professionals. Erin has taken on leadership roles within her woodlands group, not only developing over 200,000m3 annually, but also supervising full phase harvesting operations for Fraser Lake sawmills.

In the face of staff changes and the rigors of working for a forest licensee, Erin has shown professionalism, a strong work ethic, leadership beyond her age, and has been a pillar of stability for West Fraser.

Éric Lapointe
Forest operations coordinator, Domtar
As a student you always wish to make a revolution in your industry. And this is what Éric Lapointe did by working with a team who developed hybrid poplars that become mature in only 15 years in Québec! In 2020, these poplars should be planted on 8,000 hectares of Domtar’s private lands in Québec.

Éric’s forestry career started in 1995, at age 18, when he began planting trees in Lebel-sur-Quévilon, in northern Québec. Six years later, while he was completing his forest engineering degree at Laval University, he became an intern for Domtar and started working on the hybrid poplar plantation program.

In 2002, he started to work full-time on this program, testing soils, measuring growth rates, improving cultural techniques and gathering tons of information. To improve the growth, Éric  and his team developed an innovative method: planting trees on mounds to hold back the competition. Later, they found that soils were too acidic, so they fertilized plantations with papermill biosolids. Today, plantations receive over 40,000 tons per year of biosolids, yielding growth rates of 200 cubic metres per hectare over 15 years.  

In 2012, Éric became Domtar’s forest operations coordinator, supervising a 450,000 cubic metre annual harvest on private lands.

Éric Lapointe is also part of the Domtar’s forestry certification team, which achieved ISO 14001 (2001), FSC (2005) and SFI (2006), and he also participated in the Greenest Workforce initiative led by the Forest Products Association of Canada.

Stéphane Desjardins
Vice-president of optimization, Comact
As a youngster, Stéphane Desjardins always thought he would work in aeronautics. But after doing an internship with Comact in 1998, in his second year at Polytechnique in Montreal, he changed his mind.

“When I tasted computer science and mill optimization, I decided to make a career in that field,” he says.

Aeronautics systems are so complex that he could never have worked on the global systems like he does with Comact; and Stéphane got into the industry when high-tech systems were becoming more popular.

With his passion for programming wood processing tools, Stéphane had the opportunity to leave his mark in both the structure and the logic of sawing optimization systems. In the early 2000s, he was a pioneer in standardizing programming techniques at Comact for the purpose of ensuring the flexibility of optimization software so that it would suit all the various types of equipment.

According to his colleagues, Stéphane  was an instrumental leader when the time came to develop the GradExpert, which created a new trend for grading optimizers in the planer mill market.

“Optimization staff are at the forefront when dealing with enhanced performance and profitability,” says Simon Potvin, senior vice-president of the BID Group of Companies. “Stéphane  is both a leader and a visionary who bears in mind that an improvement must represent a benefit for the end-user.”

Rod Badcock
Principal partner, BioApplied Innovation Pathways, St. Margarets Bay, N.S.
Rod Badcock is a tireless champion of the forest industry.

A forestry engineer at the University of New Brunswick, he started his career with Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries and went on to work for Bowater Mersey. He then completed an MBA at St.  Mary’s University and started a consulting firm called Fusion Intel to support the advance of renewable resources.

In 2013, Rod joined forces with Greg Maloney and founded BioApplied Innovation Pathways, created for the purpose of delivering renewable resource innovation. Under these banners, Rod spearheads many worthwhile industry projects including CelluForce, a new company developing nanocrystalline cellulose from wood pulp.

Rod has been a key driver in establishing an industry and government coalition for the High Performance Logging (HPL) initiative. In conjunction with Canadian Woodlands Forum, training programs are delivered to support adapting leading-edge technology and forest harvesting practices. This includes Future Directions in Forest Management – a training program for Nova Scotia loggers to execute partial-harvesting prescriptions productively and safely.

In his current role, Rod is BioApplied’s boots on the ground in a new provincial initiative to establish an innovative ecosystem, which involves training, knowledge development, and identifying and addressing the needs of the industry.

In all his work, he commits himself fully. That also applies to Rod’s involvement with Log-A-Load For Kids Canada, a national campaign through which loggers and other members of the forest industry donate the value of a load of logs, or any amount raised through fundraising events, to local Children’s Miracle Network-affiliated hospital foundations. For the last 10 years, Rod organizes a weekend-long softball tournament in Caledonia, N.S. It has contributed over $40,000 to the cause.

Rod rolls up his sleeves and dives into whatever needs to be addressed. He is committed to helping create a highly efficient and prosperous forest industry and is a strong and driving force to make that happen.

Lucas McGlynn
General labourer, Bernie McGlynn Lumber Ltd., Mildmay, Ont.
Lucas McGlynn is the youngest member of the Top 10 under 40 and, at the tender age of just 19, has already accomplished quite a bit in the industry.

Lucas has been working at his family’s sawmill since he could walk, according to one family member. Early in his career, he already has forklift operation, lumber piling and shift management on his resume.

Once Lucas finished high school he went to Conestoga College to further his education in woodworking. During his year there, he lost his brother Mike in a tragic logging accident. Since then, Lucas has stepped up to fill his brother’s shoes and taken over the log truck position, working long hours and making his father proud.

He just got back from an international trade show in Dubai where he was promoting the company’s hardwood flooring line. He came back with new contacts to help McGlynn’s products be used around the world.

According to his family, Lucas’ next goal is to become a chainsaw cutter in the bush, and he puts more time and dedication into his job than anyone else his age.

Through this tough time for the McGlynn family, Lucas is pulling them through and helping the business succeed.

Ricky Robichaud
Machine operator, ACFOR, Cocagne, N.B.
Patience, perseverance and humility is what best describes Ricky Robichaud.

Ricky was working as a forest machine operator when the forestry crisis hit his logging town of Rogersville, N.B. in 2007. In 2008 while searching for work, he met with Mathieu LeBlanc, who had just founded ACFOR Inc. – a forestry management company that focused on restoring the Acadian Forest for private woodlot owners. It wasn’t going to be easy to start up a forestry management company that was focused on balancing ecology with economy in an industry that was in a crisis with poor markets, but Ricky accepted the challenge.

In 2010, ACFOR purchased one of the first Ponsse Fox machines to hit North America. Convinced that this thinning harvester was exactly what the company needed to be highly productive in selection harvesting, Ricky showed strong leadership in developing new techniques to increase productivity in thinning scenarios, while at the same time increasing the quality of the forests his company was managing.

Today, Ricky focuses on training new operators and implementing processes in the company’s operations.

‘’Ricky is a big part of ACFOR’s success and you won’t find a more passionate, forward-thinking operator. He’s clearly becoming a leader in the next generation of forest machine operators,’’ LeBlanc says.

Jordan Dillman
Processor operator, Rod Dillman Contracting, 100 Mile House, B.C.
Jordan Dillman started working for Rod Dillman Contracting during his summers off as a high school student. He learned from the ground up, first by running a grapple skidder trained by his late grandfather, Marvin Dillman, and then by jumping into a log loader to help out his dad, Rod Dillman.

After Jordan graduated in 2007, he went to school to obtain his welding ticket so he could help out with emergency repairs on the machinery. Since that time, Jordan has had a thirst for knowledge, learning about all the different facets of the company, including dealing with government workers and officials, mill personnel and visitors, whenever his dad is offsite. Jordan has also learned how to operate every machine on site. He is a very proficient processor operator, but can jump onto any machine, when required.

His future in the forest industry looks bright as he has shown his commitment to educating himself and has the confidence to lead in the future.



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