By Treena Hein
Sept. 16, 2014 - If the success of Northwest Forest Resources of Corner Brook, Newfoundland, were distilled down to a few words, they would likely be teamwork, investment and attention to detail.
NWFR was started in 1984 by Eli Reid as a manual logging operation for pulp. “He worked in a camp situation which was the normal thing at that time,” explains Craig Reid, present Northwest co-owner and Eli’s grandson. “He came home on the weekends and worked really hard. He loved the bush and lived it and that’s all he ever knew.”
Eli’s sons Melvin, Doyle and Guy (Craig’s father) joined Eli and all worked together in the family business. Around 1994, they went to mechanical harvesting. Along the way, some of their sons joined the business, such as Doyle’s son Trevor (co-owner, mechanic) and Craig’s brother Chad (mechanical repair and maintenance) and long-time foreman Dave Reid. Melvin, Doyle and Guy stayed on until their retirements in 2002, 2006 and 2009, respectively.
Six full-time employees and about 25 unionized operators harvest over 143,000 m3 per year with a utilization of 1.22 m3/ha. “We now have six harvesters and three forwarders,” says Craig. “Tigercat is our main equipment supplier, the best we’ve found.” The company has mobile service trailers for repair and maintenance, and over 363,000 hours without a lost-time accident. NWFR innovates with equipment, communication, safety, and production tracking and data management using tech such as FPdat and GPS. In addition to producing pulpwood for the Corner Brook mill for almost 30 years, NWFR has recently been harvesting sawlogs and fuelwood as required by Corner Brook Pulp and Paper (CBPP).
For all this and more, NWFR was recently selected as CBPP’s 2013 “Contractor of the Year.” “This is quite an accomplishment, considering the detailed and rigorous evaluation that we do on all our contractors three times each year in our Key Performance Indicator (KPI) program,” says CBPP General Operational Superintendent Tim Moulton. “NWFR was selected as our best contractor based on their superior performance during 2013 in the areas of safety, quality, production, environment, fibre utilization and overall efficiency.”
NWFR also recently won the “Atlantic Contractor of the Year” award from the Canadian Woodlands Forum, a not-for-profit organization with the aim of improving the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and profitability of woodlands operations as they contribute towards sustaining a robust, safe, and environmentally responsible wood fibre
“These awards are a big achievement,” Craig says. “We’ve always tried to be the best we can be, and that’s what you work towards, and this is the best recognition that we could have gotten for what we do. Everyone at the company was very happy, and my uncles and my father were very happy too to see the company in capable hands.”
NWFR is also CBPP’s most-improved contractor in terms of their KPI score improvements from 2012 to 2013. KPI scores are based on many operational performance aspects, from safety to mapping and reporting, Craig explains. Corner Brook Pulp and Paper does three KPI contractor evaluations a year, measuring each contractor against
“Corner Brook wants their contractors to be the best,” Craig says. “The evaluations help the business in terms of targeting areas for improvement, and we also receive payment based on KPI performance. We were getting scores in the low-to-mid-80s in 2012, but in 2013 we averaged 98 throughout the year. We are very pleased.”
This amazing achievement is a testament to the strong teamwork at NWFR. “It’s a team effort for sure,” says Craig. “My brother Chad was instrumental getting our utilization up and our foreman Dave Reid brings a wealth of experience. They have both been around the business for years and that’s invaluable. We also hired another foreman last year, Chris Curnew, a very experienced and skilled forest technician who has brought us up to date with technology use. Things like GPS and FPDat. He and Dave work as a team within the team and they are very strong together with the in-field layout and management. Wallace Budgell is our excellent night supervisor.”
Craig also attributes their strong safety record to teamwork. “We have well-trained employees, and we use a behaviour-based program where operators do a checklist on themselves and each other each week, and we have a safety talk before each shift,” he says. “We have thorough monthly #1 Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) inspections, and passed all three 2013 #2 OHS inspections (conducted by CBPP staff) with an average of 98 per cent.”
“Their weekly reporting is always accurate and on time, and they passed all fibre utilization inspections with the lowest residual recoverable volume left on their summer operating areas (1.22 m3/ha),” CBPP’s Moulton explains. “Their high equipment utilization is evidence of this. In 2013, they had the highest average utilization of all contractors working for the company.”
In addition, CBPP recognizes that NWFR has done an excellent job with producing high-quality sawlogs for CBPP’s sawmill partners, and has great relationships with land users such as the Western Snow Riders snowmobile club. NWFR takes a great deal of care to ensure that the crossings of groomed snowmobile trails are kept safe and accessible where they meet NWFR logging roads.
Community is also important to NWFR and the Reid family. NWFR participates in the “Log a Load for Kids” hockey tournament each year, where money is raised for Janeway Children’s Hospital. In 2013, the NWFR team won the tournament as the highest fundraising group with $7,700 raised.
“NWFR is a diversified company,” adds Moulton. “In today’s very competitive forest industry, only the strong and innovative contractors survive. In order to stay strong, contractors have to look at ways to increase productivity and reduce costs and that’s what NWFR does. It has been in existence for 30 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 that.”
When asked about future plans, Craig says they are focused on keeping this family-run business strong. “We want to be able to continue making a living and retire from the business, and keep it going for generations to come as well,” he says. “It’s a job where we can stay at home, and that’s not easy to achieve in this day and age and we appreciate that.”
‘Log a Load for Kids’ is a fundraiser organized by the Canadian Woodlands Forum that includes a hockey tournament, two golf tournaments and a softball tournament to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network.
Canadian Woodlands Forum has raised almost one million dollars since 2000 through ‘Log-A-Load for Kids.’ Forestry groups nationwide interested in contributing or organizing an event can go to cwfcof.org.