If you live in British Columbia (B.C.), you have heard in the media that the forest industry as a whole is currently experiencing a decline. Several mills in the interior of B.C. are curtailing production or closing due to a lack of available and economical log supply.
Given that the forest sector represents over 70% of Spectrum’s revenue, it stands to reason that we should all be concerned. There is no question that this decline will have an impact on our business in the midterm; however, we remain confident that we have the strategies and team in place that will buffer this decline. What follows are some of the strategies that we have and will be employing to counter the effects of the downturn in our industry in B.C.
Reforestation (tree planting) is a big part of what we do. We are insulating ourselves from some of the industry closures and curtailments through our alignment with indigenous groups as well as diversification into Alberta – where the industry remains relatively strong.
Industrial Vegetation Management
We have been successful at securing contracts with some of our strategic partners that will provide labour and specialized services to large B.C. infrastructure projects such as the Site C Clean Energy Project, the Kemess Transmission Line, the Coastal Gas Link and other pipeline infrastructure projects. Our team in the Peace Region has done an outstanding job of transitioning to this alternative type of work and we continue to demonstrate to our clients that we are the safe and professional choice for these projects.
Our timber development operations have been curtailed for two of our main clients. To counter this, we have aligned ourselves with three strategic indigenous partners. This has afforded us access to clients with whom we would not normally be doing business and has resulted in no net loss in required personnel. Moreover, we have secured our first timber development contract in Alberta, and in the process, we are positioning ourselves for future growth in that marketplace.
Invasive Plant Management
This year saw our largest invasive plant management program in company history. This seasonal team is now 50 strong, up from 30 last year. We have built the right systems and put forward an excellent team of regional coordinators who continue to set the standard for invasive species management. This affords us the opportunity to take on additional work, further away from our support centre. We have no reason to believe that this segment will continue to be successful well into the future.
Public safety and protection from wildfire have become key priorities for many B.C. and Alberta communities. The Spectrum fire SMART team carried out three large projects last winter and has now built up a solid resume for this service. We have built a reputation for being the capable, professional and safe choice; that garners a lot of points when our potential clients evaluate vendors to take on their projects. For this coming winter, we have at least two projects on the books with many more opportunities upcoming. This is a sector that holds much promise for growth, and we are well positioned to take it on.
The forest health team in Alberta continues to lead the way in safety and program delivery. Spectrum was successful in completing all our contracts in the 2019 fiscal year, which will result in renewals for the upcoming mountain pine beetle season. With three renewal contracts secured, this will afford an earlier start to our season and enable us to capitalize on other late season work opportunities. Spectrum continues to be the vendor of choice for the Alberta Government.
In summary, we are seeing a decline in the forestry marketplace. Mill closures and curtailments in B.C. are necessary to keep our forest sector strong and competitive. In the meantime, the Spectrum team continues to find ways to keep moving forward – safely, professionally and competitively. Well done everyone!
BY: DEAN MARSHALL