Hampton Affiliates, the company that owns Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products, has recently reduced the amount of truck shipments from local companies, increasing the amount of lumber hauled by train.
Steve Zika, Chief Executive Officer of Hampton Affiliates, explained that Babine and Decker Lake sawmills operate in a “global marketplace with dynamic transportation logistics.”
“For years, shipments out of these sawmills have varied between rail and truck based on market changes and other economic factors beyond our local control,” he said. “Currently the capacity of the truck served reload in Prince Rupert is nearing full capacity as Asia markets become more critical to many businesses in Northern B.C.; therefore, to efficiently get our products to Asia we have increased our rail shipments to Prince Rupert and reduced our truck shipments.”
“While the CN [Canadian National Railway Company] is not a local business, it does provide stable employment for local people,” he added.
Zika said Hampton Affiliates continues to support hundreds of truck shipments in and out of Babine and Decker Lake sawmills related to logs, lumber, residuals, and maintenance deliveries.
“We apologize to the local entrepreneur whose four drivers will be impacted by this change and the local owner-operator who will also be affected by this change,” he continued. “We notified the local truckers in advance of the reduced truck shipments to attempt to give them time to find alternative business.”
Zika added that surviving in the global sawmill business is a “huge challenge” in the face of the pine beetle epidemic and the uncertain economics surrounding the expired softwood lumber agreement.
“We sometimes have to make decisions that negatively affect the local community,” he said. “However, we remain committed to maintain safe, viable sawmills that employ hundreds of local workers and contractors in a sustainable manner.”
“Global markets will continue to evolve and we will have to be proactive to ensure we remain competitive.”