Manufacturing excellence

We announce the 2018 Kootenay Manufacturing Awards

The Paper Excellence Skookumchuck Pulp Mill won Manufacturer of the Year.

The Paper Excellence Skookumchuck Pulp Mill won Manufacturer of the Year. — Photo courtesy Paper Excellence

This year we formulated our third annual Kootenay Manufacturing Awards a little differently. We, at Kootenay Business, sat down and studied a number of outstanding companies in the region and identified the ones we believed were more than deserving of an award based on their continued innovation, buzz in the press, entrepreneurial spirit, sustained—and often growing—employment numbers and generous community contributions.

With this in mind, we are pleased to recognize the following outstanding Kootenay companies and the contributions they make to their industry, their employees and their communities throughout the Kootenays.

Here are the winners of the 2018 Kootenay Manufacturing Awards:

Top Small Kootenay Manufacturer (1 to 5 employees): Bohemian Spirits, Kimberley (2 employees)

Bohemian Spirits is led by Wade Jarvis and Ervyn Turcon. Their small company has overcome numerous challenges, including a devastating fire at one point, to now be celebrating their fifth year in production. Using botanicals foraged in the mountains around Kimberley, Bohemian produces small-batch handcrafted vodka and gin. Their line of distilled spirits is increasing demand throughout the region and province and is available in more and more locations.

Top Mid-size Kootenay Manufacturer (6 to 49 employees): Saunders Family Farm, Invermere (7 employees)

Windermere’s Saunders Family Farm has been racking up numerous awards for its delicious lineup of jams and jellies in recent years, including being named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Products appearing on the shelves of B.C. grocery stores last year. The company is owned and operated by Faith and Gordon Saunders.

Top Large Kootenay Manufacturer (50+ employees): ATCO Wood Products, Fruitvale (63 employees)

ATCO Wood Products is the major employer in the Fruitvale area with over 60 employees and has been operating for over 60 years as well. This family-run operation is headed up by Scott and Rebecca Weatherford. In addition to upping production of their trademark veneer products in recent years, ATCO is one of the few wood producers in Canada to operate their own short-line rail service directly to the American market.

Builder of the Year: Tyee Homes, Kimberley (25 to 30 employees)

Based in Kimberley, Tyee Log and Timber has been designing and building handcrafted log and timber-frame structures since 2003. Their sister company, Tyee Custom Homes, has been building homes for the same duration. The principles of the firm, both second-generation Canadian builders, have over 40 combined years’ experience in project management, on-site construction, and log and timber construction experience. They are currently spearheading two new townhome developments in Kimberley along Rotary Drive and building the rail sheds at the Cranbrook History Centre. The company is owned and operated by Carl Lauren and Rob Wheeler.

Manufacturing Executive of the Year: Gavin Baxter, Paper Excellence, Skookumchuck

On the occasion of the Paper Excellence’s 50th Anniversary during the summer of 2018, general manager Gavin Baxter and his team at the Skookumchuck Pulp Mill were singled out by company president Brian Baarda for their innovative approach to making their operation sustainable and cost-competitive in a highly volatile and competitive pulp market.

Gavin Baxter (L), the general manager of the Paper Excellence Skookumchuck Pulp Mill won Manufacturing Executive of the Year.

Gavin Baxter (L), the general manager of the Paper Excellence Skookumchuck Pulp Mill won Manufacturing Executive of the Year. — Photo courtesy Paper Excellence

Manufacturer of the Year: Paper Excellence, Skookumchuck

For the last 50 years the Paper Excellence Pulp Mill at Skookumchuck continues to achieve production records and produces some 255,000 tonnes of pulp product per year. The Richmond-based Paper Excellence CEO, Brian Baarda, said at the milestone 50th Anniversary celebration in August, “It’s very exciting to be part of the 50th Anniversary of this mill and it is a credit to the people in this area—the union, the employees and the community. Innovation and continual improvement have enabled this mill to survive.”

The Paper Excellence Pulp Mill at Skookumchuck is one of largest employers in the region with 285 full-time workers plus numerous local wood fibre suppliers, and maintenance contractors are hired throughout the year. Paper Excellence estimates that the Skookumchuck mill brings as much as $44 million in direct and indirect economic benefits to the region every year.

Keith Powell

Keith Powell is the publisher and founder of Kootenay Business magazine which is part of the Koocanusa Publications group. View all of Keith Powell’s articles

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