Creating a Future As Rich as Our Past.

Spotlight on Forestry

Spotlight on Forestry

2011 was a busy year for Huu-ay-aht First Nation’s forestry company, known officially as a Forestry Limited Partnership, or FLP. Not only did the company undergo a thorough review of all its operations, it also acquired the first First Nations Woodland Licence in the province. The 25-year renewable, long-term tenure—plus our long-term community forest tenure—means that the company is no longer a forestry contractor, but a tenure manager.

“That is something that really secures the future of Huu-ay-aht First Nations,” says HDC Chair, John Jack. “We now have a long-term supply of timber. If we manage that correctly over a number of years, the amount of money we can make goes up.”

So does the amount of workers the company can employ. Currently providing work for 13 people (including six Huu-ay-aht citizens), the forestry company is the largest business owned by Huu-ay-aht First Nations.  Three salaried staff carry out day-to-day administration and operations. Another four hourly employees work at the Spencer Dryland Sort, a small log sorting yard also owned by Huu-ay-aht First Nations. Four more work at a shake and shingle operation, bucking, splitting, and cording blocks in preparation for milling. Two remaining employees work for the company in first aid and road construction.

Together the team has worked hard to realize the nation’s goals for prosperity and economy. That hard work is starting to pay off. “One of the main highlights of 2011 has been the evolution of the forestry business,” says Stan Coleman, Chief Executive Officer for HFN Development LP. “It had a very good year, and is sitting in a profitable situation right now. The money it’s borrowing to invest has a lot do to with forward planning.”

That planning includes implementing changes from a review of operations carried out in 2011. For six weeks beginning in September, independent forestry consultants hired by HDC examined every aspect of the forestry business. From accounting and harvesting operations to marketing and sales, the review identified areas for improvement and recommendations for better overall operation.

The review also identified options for moving the company into a more profitable position for the long term. Now Coleman and the forestry staff are using those options to set goals for the next five to ten years. “We’re improving upon all areas and tracking our implementation,” Coleman says.  “The team has already been making improvements from the review itself. We’re going to continue to do that.”

One example of these improvements is a revamped accounting system that will meet the needs of the corporation and the forestry business. “I want to be able to share how we’re doing with employees, our board of directors, and the economic development committee. I want to do this more often to help develop the kind of feedback that’s useful to help people do their jobs,” Coleman says.

Other improvements include increasing staff understanding of the company’s safety management system. That includes training employees to take a leadership role in what they do every day, and to take care of themselves and those around them.

Mark Godard, a safety and environment consultant from Godard Management Services, provides safety and environmental support to the company. “Safety is the number one priority for Huu-ay-aht Forestry,” he says. “It comes above cost. It also comes above production.”

To exemplify that ethic, Godard and the HFN forestry staff and crew have maintained the company’s BC Forest Safety Council certification since 2006. This year, crews also received training in S-100 Fire Suppression, and Safety, Workplace Hazard Materials Information Systems (WHMIS), and power saw certification. “We’re continually offering training opportunities for our crew,” he says.

A trained crew is a safe crew, and that’s good business, says Godard. “It’s important to protect people and the environment. When you do that, it costs less in the long run because you don’t have negative things happening. Our commitment in this area is something we can be proud of.”

That pride is reflected in the forestry company’s ability to weather the recent economic downturn in the industry. Despite a few lean years, Huu-ay-aht Forestry enjoyed a successful 2011 in both production and profitability. “We harvested almost 100,000 m3 and had a helicopter logging operation,” says Paul Dagg, the company’s Planning Forester. “2011 was also the first year that we started harvesting and tree planting operations on our community forest. In 2012, we are going to start harvesting on our First Nations Woodland Licence.”

With that kind of opportunity on the horizon, the Huu-ay-aht Forestry Limited Partnership has a very bright future. As a cornerstone of the Huu-ay-aht Development Corporation, that’s good news for the nation and the community. “We have always been a free enterprise forestry company, and we pride ourselves on being cost effective,” Dagg says. “We like to say that Huu-ay-aht Forestry is open for business.”

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