Pacific Timber – a company that operates under the umbrella of the Tahtsa Group – has been growing by utilizing, developing and valuing the local workforce.
Karl Garrett, Pacific Timber’s manager, was recently recognized nationally for being at the forefront of these efforts.
The Burns Lake resident has won the Canadian Forest Industries magazine’s ‘top 10 under 40’ award, which acknowledges the achievements of the newest generation of forest industry workers.
Many workers in the Burns Lake area have used Pacific Timber as a stepping stone to higher paying mills such as Decker Lake Forest Products or Babine Forest Products. But instead of working against that trend, Pacific Timber decided to use it as an opportunity.
The company has been attracting workers by providing proper training and career development opportunities.
“They come through us and they learn those skills; we recognize that, and we develop them as much as we can, knowing that sometimes we’re going to lose them,” explained co-worker Kevin Porowski, who nominated Garrett for the award.
“If we help them grow, we grow, and Karl takes a leadership role on that.”
Porowski said Garrett also understands the value of the local workforce and that he has been able to utilize the local First Nations labour pool – filling 45 per cent of Pacific Timber’s workforce, including positions of leadership.
“He’s able to see the strength in the people that we have,” said Porowski. “Pacific Timber is investing in people and [therefore] in the community all the time.”
Garrett was also recognized for his efforts to develop a safe work culture.
“I watched Karl’s desire to grow the safety program and his concern about the safety for his people,” said Porowski.
Garrett, 39, immigrated to Burns Lake from Germany when he was 15 years old. He has been a manager at Pacific Timber for over five years. As a manager, he is responsible for two sawmill sites in Burns Lake and is actively involved in setting set up a third in Houston.
“It was his hard work and his effort that propelled him to where he is; he’s dedicated on the job and he loves what he does,” added Porowski.
According to the Canadian Forest Industries magazine, Garrett has worked closely with Tahtsa Group’s general manager to successfully procure and harvest burned wood from a forest fire and turn it into cants, while using the residual in the pellet plant industry.
“Putting his marketing skills to good use, Karl has successfully introduced new products to the marketplace and built niche markets,” notes the magazine. “He actively works with brokers to achieve the best value for export wood.”
When asked how he felt about winning the award, Garrett simply said it was nice to be appreciated.
“But it’s definitely a team effort,” he said humbly. “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the guys in the office.”