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Introducing CFI’s sixth annual Top 10 Under 40

Oct. 3, 2018 - Enabling the next generation to succeed is the only way to preserve the future of any industry. Canadian Forest Industries is proud to be running its sixth consecutive annual issue showcasing the Top 10 forestry leaders under 40 years old.

October 3, 2018  By Canadian Forestry Staff

Enabling the next generation to succeed

Narrowing down a selection of outstanding nominees to just 10 individuals is no easy task. These forestry stars work in every aspect of the forest industry from coast to coast and they love what they do.

What their co-workers have to say is a testament to their contributions to forestry.

These winners and their fellow nominees are the future of the industry and their stories are being told.

Without further ado, we introduce CFI’s Top 10 Under 40 of 2018.



Log purchaser/Custom cutter, Teal-Jones Group, Surrey, B.C.

It’s not often Jack Gardner doesn’t wear plaid. It’s part of why he suits the role of lumberjack, Jack’s grandfather Dick Jones explains.

Jack started working for his grandfather’s company, Teal-Jones Group based in Surrey, B.C., when he was just 10 years old and has held his fair share of the manual jobs, from shoveling sawdust to pulling off the green chain and grading lumber.

Today the 23-year-old holds the position of log purchaser and custom cutter in Teal’s cedar division.

A few years ago, Jack took part in a trade mission to China on behalf of Teal-Jones Group. “Jack is a pretty good talker. One time he was in China and introduced himself to a few people at a conference. A few months later, because of the connections he made, he got 17,000 cubic metres of western red cedar and this created an ongoing relationship with the supplier,” Jones says.

Today Jack can be found walking timber sales, inspecting log booms and overseeing the logs sawn into high-quality cedar lumber. The young leader has an eye for the job from start to finish and a passion for the industry, Jones says.

Jack’s goal is to run the family business — which employs over 1,200 people in Canada and the U.S. — and to continue the legacy that his great grandfather Jack Jones started more than 70 years ago.


Forest inventory manager, Elmsdale Lumber Company, Elmsdale, N.S.

If you are looking for Maritime College of Forest Technicians graduate Jason Casey, you might try looking in the field, in the boardroom, in the community or in the classroom.

A forest technician by trade and a forester/environmentalist by heart, perfectly describes Jason whose keenness to safeguard the sustainability of the Nova Scotia forest resource is evident by the long-term goals he has shaped and manages for his employer, Elmsdale Lumber Company.

But, his work doesn’t end with Elmsdale Lumber. The 38-year-old’s expertise, and his willingness to share, learn and teach has resulted in the forest community, including representatives from the province, the industry and the public, reaching out for his advice.

“Jason has exemplary skills in compiling forest management plans, using GIS to analyze and construct forest inventory maps,” says colleague Tim O’Brien.

“Jason is a family man who also loves to grow high value trees,” says colleague Marcus Zwicker. “His experience and willingness to learn from others and to keep an open mind produces high quality work… I have the outmost respect for Jason and his approach to forestry. The forest industry’s future looks brighter because of leaders like Jason Casey.”

“Early in his career, it became apparent that Jason was a self-starter, well-versed in his field, and eager to continually study forest applications to be the best in his field,” notes colleague Steve Marsters.

Aside from his dedication to the industry, Jason is a dedicated husband to his wife Courtney and father to five-year-old son, Logan. Jason and his family truly enjoy the wilderness and one of their favourite family past-times is camping.


Forestry superintendent, Canfor, Mackenzie, B.C.

Carmen Augustine began working in the forest industry in the summer of 2006 as a silviculture summer student out of Port McNeil, B.C. The 34-year-old is a registered professional forester, with a BSc in forestry from the University of British Columbia.

In 2007 she joined Canfor’s Quesnel operations as a seasonal silviculture assistant before moving to the Mackenzie, B.C., operation in February of 2011. Her early time spent in Mackenzie allowed her to gain considerable experience managing silviculture programs, forecasting, and yearly budgeting.

Late in 2012, Carmen transferred to permitting in a full-time capacity where she was responsible for acquiring permits and the preparation of site level plans for harvest authorization. Most recently, Carmen has been promoted to forestry superintendent where she is responsible for the successful co-ordination of all planning, permitting, silviculture and field operations for Canfor’s Mackenzie Operations.

Carmen leads a team of 15 staff and she and her team are relied upon to provide the planning and permitting of 1.8 million m3 of approved volume annually while ensuring all legal silviculture obligations are met on approximately 5,000 hectares of reforestation annually.

During her spare time, Carmen can be found out in the community volunteering and promoting her profession. Carmen was voted firefighter of the year twice as a member with the Mackenzie Volunteer Fire Department. She is a director with Mackenzie Outdoor Route and Trail Association (MORATA), which is a group founded to promote, maintain and build recreational trails in the Mackenzie area. She has also successfully established the forestry field school at Morfee Elementary School, where she is actively promoting forest operations by teaching students about forestry.

“She is a team orientated, highly organized and goal driven individual that does not shy away from challenges,” says Kevin Horsnell, vice-president of Woodlands Canada, Canfor. “These strengths have served Carmen well and will no doubt benefit her for many years to come.”


Corporate project and controls manager, EACOM Timber Corporation, Montreal

Sylvain Messier has been working in the forest products industry since he was 16 years old. His first job was in a hardwood mill in Drummondville, Que., and he has remained in the field ever since.

In 2005 he graduated from CEGEP Ste-Foy with a wood processing degree and worked with Comact in optimizing start-ups worldwide. From 2010 to 2012, he joined the Domtar/EACOM family and facilitated the transition to EACOM.

In late 2012, Sylvain started his own business to provide for more flexibility and time with his young family. The 34-year-old’s energy, knowledge, management style, and expertise resulted in strong demand and respect for his consulting services in the industry, says Wade Zammit, vice-president and COO at EACOM. Adding that these accomplishments at a young age made Sylvain an attractive prospect to EACOM.

Sylvain joined the EACOM team in 2015 as a process and optimization specialist. Within his role of optimizing EACOM’s sawmill performance he delivered operational improvements at its Ear Falls, Ont., sawmill by increasing the value output by 10 per cent and achieving a 15 per cent uplift in recovery. His numerous projects contributed to the overall team effort that increased EACOM’s production from 500 to 900 million board feet per year between 2013 and 2018.

In 2016, Sylvain’s scope of work expanded into managing capital projects and he was promoted to wood transformation expert advisor for all EACOM sawmills. He became involved in multi-year capital project planning and began managing some individual projects; most notably, the first continuous dry kiln in Eastern Canada at EACOM’s Timmins, Ont., facility.

“A very confident person, Sylvain expects strong commitment from himself and those that work with him,” Zammit says. “He does not avoid difficult situations and makes tough decisions when necessary. His knowledge and approach to people has proven to be very effective at getting results.”

In November 2017, Sylvain was promoted to corporate project and controls manager and in the spring of 2018, he took on the responsibility for all capital and improvement projects for the company. Sylvain now manages a team of 12 while pursuing a business management degree at Montreal’s HEC School of Business.


Co-ordinator/facilitator, Pacific Resolutions, B.C., Alberta, Ontario

Chanda Hunnie has 10 years of project leadership experience in natural resource management involving multidisciplinary collaboration.

As co-ordinator, then director of operations for the Manitoba Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Chanda guided the organization’s activities in province-wide boreal conservation campaigns emphasizing stakeholder consensus. Conducting community outreach, fiscal management and communications, the 38-year-old’s work was instrumental to the successful creation of both Fisher Bay and Little Limestone Lake Provincial Parks.

Under the auspices of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (a national scale project guided and sponsored by the Forest Products Association of Canada), Chanda was responsible for guiding the direction of consensus-based actions for caribou recovery and protected areas planning that balanced a sustainable fibre supply among forest companies and environmental non-governmental groups in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

She currently facilitates First Nations and a forest company in Northwestern Alberta in the exploration and pursuit of a new relationship including the development of a stewardship plan in collaboration with environmental organizations. Chanda also assists regional collaborations in the B.C. northeast and central interior between the province and First Nations intended to address First Nations’ long-standing concerns with cumulative impacts in their traditional territories.

“Chanda’s work also has been instrumental in securing benefit agreements in pursuit of oil and gas pipelines,” says Bob Fleet, vice-president of forestry and environment for Tolko. “This innovative approach to natural resource development and management has resulted in individual energies that used to be spent competing or obstructing, now being spent on collaborating, listening, and moving forward on resource management and development projects together.”

Chanda lives in the beautiful Canadian Shield in the Treaty No. 3 lands of northwestern Ontario.


President, C&C Resources Inc., Quesnel, B.C.

Kris was born into an entrepreneurial family that owned and operated a sawmill and value-added wood products business, C&C Wood Products Ltd., in Quesnel, B.C. He started working there as a young teen in clean up and production while attending school.

After completing a business degree at the University of Victoria where he graduated on the Dean’s List, Kris, 39, started a successful Italian restaurant followed by a successful log hauling company called Westside Log Hauling Ltd., with a fleet of six trucks.

In 2004, Kris eventually moved out of the restaurant business into the position of vice-president of sales for C&C where he was instrumental in securing long-term supply contracts with large retailers. During this time, Kris continued to operate the trucking business and also develop a deeper understanding of the manufacturing side of the family wood products business including company-owned West Side Logging Ltd.

In early 2007 Kris’s uncle Joe Cerasa, president and co-founder of C&C, died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving C&C with an uncertain future. Kris and his family were forced to quickly reorganize the business ownership and leadership roles. Over the next few years, Kris worked diligently to assert himself as a knowledgeable and capable leader.

“One of Kris’ most admirable traits is his ability to follow through on commitments and achieve both short- and long-term goals,” says C&C Resources CEO Ted Dergousoff. “He takes personal responsibility for important projects and sees them through to completion, marshalling the required resources in an effective manner.”

When Kris was a teenager, C&C was a single value-added mill operation with fewer than 100 employees. Today, Kris leads an operation that has grown continuously into three mills across three provinces with more than 450 employees.

“Kris is ambitious, entrepreneurial and well-respected in the community and as a leader at C&C,” says C&C COO Ron Dunn. “Kris conducts himself in a professional manner in all of his activities; more so than anyone I have ever known in my career.”

“In an industry that can sometimes be plagued by a history of doing something because it is the way it has always been done, Kris has not fallen victim to this… Kris is analytical, definitive and fearless,” says colleague Mark Mensing.

Outside of work, Kris spends times with his wife, six-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. On Wednesday mornings during winter, Kris can be found on the ice leading the rush playing in the Quesnel Forestry Hockey League.


Vice-president of sustainability and environmental partnerships, Forest Products Association of Canada, Ottawa

Kate Lindsay is a forest leader, environmental champion, and conservation steward. As vice-president of sustainability and environmental partnerships at the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), 38-year-old Kate is responsible for advancing the forest products industry position on key federal legislative files such as species at risk, migratory birds, the Fisheries Act, climate change and biodiversity. Kate has a BSc in biology and is a registered professional biologist.

An example of Kate’s outstanding leadership is her work as FPAC’s lead for the implementation of the Species at Risk Act in the forest sector. Kate has demonstrated a strong grasp of the science, led national roundtable discussions, and engaged in collaboration with federal and provincial government representatives, Indigenous leaders, and environmental groups to find solutions to support caribou recovery across Canada.

“We need more Kate Lindsays in the forest sector… I have always believed you don’t have to be a CEO to show leadership and you don’t have to be 50 to be a role model,” says Kathy Abusow, president and CEO of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. “While Kate is still early in her career she is already showing herself to be a competent leader and an excellent role model for young women.”

Kate also demonstrated a strong sense of partnerships by actively participating in the National Advisory Panel (NAP) Report on protected and conservation areas. Kate was one of three industry representatives appointed to the panel to provide recommendations reflecting a broad spectrum of perspectives, based on the best available science and traditional knowledge, on how governments, non-government organizations and Canadians could collectively achieve Canada’s target of 17 per cent of protected and conservation areas throughout the country.

“I know I speak on behalf of our entire team and membership at FPAC when I say that Kate Lindsay’s work ethic, thoughtfulness, and commitment to excellence puts her among the very best in today’s Canadian forest products sector,” says colleague Derek Nighbor, CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada. “People take to Kate because she listens, she wants to understand all angles of complex issues, and she demonstrates through her approach and actions what integrity is all about.”


Owner, Dickinson Logging, Hinton, Alta.

At the age of 35, Seth Dickinson has taken on a lot of responsibility and has worked very hard to get to where he is today, running his own logging company Dickinson Logging based in Hinton, Alta.

Growing up in New Brunswick, Seth started out logging with his family, and then moved to Hinton with his father. Three years ago, Seth started out on his own subcontracting for a local mill with one piece of forestry equipment. He subcontracted for some time and then was awarded a full stump-to-dump contract with the mill. With the support of his family, and a lot of perseverance, hard work and grit, Seth has grown his company significantly, going from one piece of equipment to 21 pieces, including six log trucks, in just three years.

“Seth has tackled a lot of challenges to get where he is today but he is a very determined young man,” says friend and associate James Farquhar. “He blew his first contract with the mill out of the water. Once the mill realized that this kid was for real, they kept giving him more and more volume. He should be very proud of himself.”

If you spend any time with Seth you will see he is very proud of his company. He respects his employees and his equipment. “He wouldn’t ask his staff to do anything, he wouldn’t do himself,” adds Farquhar. All of Seth’s equipment is spotless. He and his crew diligently keep on top of all preventative maintenance tasks to ensure the continued success for all his employees.

Not only does Seth take a lot of initiative, he is a very innovative young man. He realized he could increase efficiency with his operations by using an old loader to stack wood for the skidders at roadside. This significantly increased the skidder’s productivity, ultimately increasing the company’s daily production numbers.

He and his wife Charlotte are extremely dedicated to all aspects of the business. Charlotte runs the office and Seth runs the daily operations, and is very hands-on. Seth and Charlotte also have two young children who also keep them very busy.

“Seth is the first in the block every day, and the last to leave,” says Wajax Equipment sales specialist Barry McBride. “He is committed to his business and his family, he is a very hard worker and definitely leads by example.”


Vice-president and sales manager, Cardinal Equipment/Sawquip, Angliers, Que.

Faced with the decision of whether or not to continue her English studies at college, Karie Berneche took a chance and tried her luck in the family business founded in 1980 by her father and two brothers: Cardinal Equipment in Angliers, Que. Karie was hired as a receptionist in May 1998 and never left.

Karie started out taking care of orders and eventually made the jump to salesperson. Karie admits she was not familiar with forestry when she started out, but she has mastered the world of manufacturing and steel. “I know how much horsepower is needed for a chipper,” she says with a laugh.

Cardinal has evolved over the years to become a distributor of biomass processing and upgrading equipment, with Morbark, Schutte-Buffalo, and Rayco products, as well as a range of material handling equipment, and, most recently, primary and secondary breakdown equipment with the acquisition of Sawquip. “We cover a lot,” says the 38-year-old, who appreciates the diversity of work.

Karie first became a shareholder of Cardinal in 2008. She purchased the company in 2015. Today the company employs about 50 people in five branches in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.


Manager, Forélie, La Tuque, Que.

After Philippe Morissette completed his bachelor’s degree in forestry engineering at Laval University, he accepted a position in a civil road building company in his hometown of La Tuque, Que. In 2010 he found his way into the forest by taking a job with resource road building company Forélie, a subsidiary of Groupe Rémabec.

Philippe’s passion and entrepreneurial spirit were quickly noticed by Rémabec’s leadership team, which offered him a shareholder position in 2013. “Not only did we notice his desire for advancement, but above all, his ability to achieve his goals,” says Éric Bouchard, vice-president of Rémabec. “He was hardworking, dedicated, and showed such a willingness that we quickly realized that he could take it further and take the reins, along with two other shareholders-directors, of the subsidiary Forélie.”

Philippe, 39, did not come from a forest background, but the jump to forestry was a natural fit for him, who likes to be involved in all aspects of the job, including personnel management and equipment maintenance, forest planning, administration, contract monitoring and field work.

The business model developed by Rémabec has helped him to excel. “Thanks to the Rémabec Group’s subsidiary model, I have been able to develop my entrepreneurial skills and take risks, because there is a great team behind each subsidiary and a president who pushes you to improve and challenge each of your decisions,” Philippe says.

Forélie has specialized in resource road building since 2007, and in 2012 obtained a forestry contract and began harvesting. Today, with nearly 35 employees, the company builds nearly 90 kilometres of roads and harvests 160,000 m3 per year.

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