The rise in lumber prices has been good for the USNR facility in Salmon Arm. (File photo - Jim Cooperman image)

The rise in lumber prices has been good for the USNR facility in Salmon Arm. (File photo - Jim Cooperman image)

High lumber prices good for two of Salmon Arm’s larger employers

Both USNR and Canoe Forest Products have benefited from the increased cost.

While the price of lumber may be tough on those buying it, it’s been good for a couple of large Salmon Arm businesses.

At USNR, former home of Newnes Machine, general manager Rob Seaman said lumber prices are definitely benefiting the company.

“USNR is going strong and we continue to be strong in the industry and will continue. Lumber prices help our customers which leads to us getting more opportunity.”

USNR supplies equipment and technologies for the wood-processing industry.

Seaman said just over 100 people currently work at the facility.

At the beginning of 2020, the company had to “lighten a little bit,” but then lumber prices increased which meant more staff.

Seaman said while the site used to be mainly manufacturing, that’s handled in other divisions. The Salmon Arm facility is mostly engineering now.

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Over at Canoe Forest Products, general manager Marcello Angelozzi said the company had a difficult 2019 which continued until about the spring of 2020.

“By midsummer things were changing, both the lumber market and the plywood side. The markets are very strong right now.

“We have order files that take us through to summer – long order files means that we’re in good shape in terms of the market staying strong for a while.”

Angelozzi commented on one unfortunate occurrence that’s good for business.

“Typically if we see a bad forest fire season it actually pushes prices even higher – but we’d prefer not to see that.”

He said the Salmon Arm plywood plant has managed to skirt many of the issues that have plagued some companies. He said Canoe Forest Products’ management team has done a great job on the COVID-19 front, adapting and losing very little time from employees being off.

“We’ve been pretty lucky on that front, you know we have the best safety metrics we’ve ever seen in our plant. The guys are doing a great job for sure.”

He said the plant has seen fewer safety incidents every month, and year over year there’s been a great improvement.

The Salmon Arm plant employs just under 200 people, with about 1,000 total in the Gorman group. That includes a variety of operations in Revelstoke, Westbank, Lumby and Oroville, Washington.


martha.wickett@saobserver.net
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