The owners of Kandola Forest Products (KFP) are asking the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) for help to get to the next level.
The business, owned by Neal Kandola, operates the former C&C Wood Products Mill, but did not secure the forest license as part of buying the business.
President Neal Kandola explained that there is an opportunity for KFP to take the next step thanks to their North American competitor, Greenwood Forest Products based out of Penticton, going out of business.
“We’re not giving up,” he said. “If we don’t get our fibre supply, we’ll make it work some other way.”
Kandola said the business, which re-opened in April of 2021, employs 40 workers, and is hoping to add 100 more by the end of 2022.
The mill takes “junk” wood and turns it into side panels found in big box stores around North America.
“We built a model that is self-sustaining, and will grow very positively, however, to be truly self-sustaining and really explode and to dominate the market every manufacturer needs an unlimited supply of fibre,” Kandola said.
Area C Director John Massier said KFP may be able to take advantage of pre-commercial thinning to get the raw materials they are looking for.
“(Fibre supply) is a sticking point I think with a lot of wood manufacturers,” he said. “I see there is probably a real future in increasing our fibre supply with pre-commercial thinning, which really hasn’t happened much. A lot of our stands that were logged 40, 50 years ago are probably really suitable for the products you are making.”
Quesnel Mayor Bob Simpson said Kandola was on the right track building relationships with First Nations and communities in the area. He promised when Katrine Conroy, the Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, made a planned visit to Quesnel, KFP would be on their itinerary.
“As soon as we get her up here, we’ll make sure you get the time.”
Kandola said their employees have the knowledge and commitment to expand quickly, if they can secure more fibre, relaying a story of how he drove by the mill at 8 p.m. and thought he saw lumber thieves. It was actually employees coming in to make sure everything was still running smoothly while they were gone.
“The biggest thing we inherited from C&C was a fantastic production team,” Kandola said. “Guys have been there for 30-plus years, 20-plus years. They know the plant inside and out, they treat it like their own.”
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