It looked like a regular day at Kandola Forest Products (KFP) on Monday, April 19.
Workers came in early, ready to begin the task of turning boards into siding. They were sorting, organizing and drying pieces to be cut and painted, before being shipped around North America.
But it wasn’t a normal day at the mill.
April 19 marked the first day in nearly a year the production line was active at the former C&C Wood Products, which had been closed after the company went into bankruptcy on June 2, 2020.
The mill had been operating since 1977, most of that time as a family-owned operation, employing 185 at its height.
“Everyone’s really excited,” KFP President Neal Kandola said in the offices above the mill’s floor. “I’ve been on the phone with our customer base, they’re just as excited as we are. They’re hungry for the product, and when C&C went into bankruptcy it left huge void in the marketplace, and no one was able to fill it.”
While only a couple-dozen employees are expected to begin working at the mill in the short term, Kandola hopes to hire around 90 full-time employees by the end of the year.
Kandola called the mill “one-of-a-kind” noting many of the employees working on opening day, including plant manager Hugh Whalen, worked in the mill before it closed.
“The previous company had a large amount of employees with an immense amount of knowledge,” he said. “These guys are very good at what they do. It certainly helped us immensely.”
Kandola said KFP hopes to have two, eight-hour shifts running five days a week.
The panels created by KFP will go into hardware stores, to be installed by everyone from professional carpenters to do-it-yourselfers at their homes.
“What gravitated us towards this facility is its unique product,” Kandola said. “It’s a very high value-added product, it’s a do-it-yourself product, and that section of the market is growing, and we see huge opportunities with that across North America. People see renovations to their home not as an expense, but as an investment to their house.”
The mill was purchased by a group called the Quesnel Investment Corperation (QIC), who was one of many entities Kandola credited for making the opening possible.
“We’d like to thank mayor and council, because without their support, this purchase would have been difficult,” he said. “They were a factor in us purchasing this facility. We’d definitely like to thank the Quesnel Investment Corporation for the smooth transition. Mike Jenks, Walker Fookes and George Paul (of the QIC) have been very helpful through this whole process.”
Kandola added KFP has a great business to business relationship with the West Fraser Timber Company.
Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: email@example.com