Nanaimo-based Coastland Wood Industries, a privately owned manufacturer of second-growth Douglas-fir veneer and other engineered wood products, hosted a mill and log-yard tour on Saturday, September 9th for the International Order of Hoo-Hoo, a fraternal service organization whose members are involved in forestry, logging and forest products industries.
One of the oldest service organizations in the world, the Hoo-Hoo was founded in 1892 and has 31 active clubs in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and South Africa. The 70-plus Hoo Hoo guests are here on Vancouver Island for their annual convention, hosted by the Cowichan Valley Hoo-Hoo Chapter. Hoo-Hoo clubs and their members are well known as significant contributors to their industry and society at large through fraternal participation in its business, social and community support programs.
Leading the mill tour on behalf of Coastland was Keith Hall, VP Fibre Supply and his colleague and log buyer Mark Lade. Hall—a member of the Vancouver Chapter of Hoo-Hoo—opened with a summary of Coastland’s establishment in 1988 and its growth from a single line veneer mill to a triple line mill with an offsite drying facility, two barge loading facilities and two log sorts. Coastland currently employs 280 people and operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Since their inception, Coastland is proud to work closely with the local First Nations, who make up a large percentage of the mill’s workforce. Coastland also supports the First Nations’ firewood program and other initiatives.
Coastland holds no forest tenures and must purchase 100% of its logs on the open market. They process 950,000 cubic metres of second growth timber per year—the equivalent of 70 truck loads per day—acquired through a vigorous log purchasing and trading program. Approximately half of the required logs arrive at the mill by truck and half in log booms. Logs size is determined in part by the Coastland’s debarker, with a minimum 4-inch top up to a maximum of 30-inches in diameter.
Given Coastland’s tidal setting and log-yard space limitations, the logs are carefully managed to minimize the negative impacts of teredo worms and sun-check. Prior to heading to the lathes, the logs are debarked, scanned, cut-to-length and hot water conditioned for up to 12 hours. The water is heated by Coastland’s own hog fuel based energy system.
Speaking passionately about the heart of the operation, Hall noted the speed and efficiency of Coastland’s three veneer lathes, each of which generates between 800 and 1000 linear feet of veneer per minute (which equates to about 1.5 billion square feet of veneer, 1/8th basis annually). Currently, 75% of the veneer is dried at Coastland’s drying facility on Annacis Island in Delta, BC., and 25% is sold as green veneer.
The veneer produced is then sold into the laminated veneer lumber (LVL), plywood and Parallam markets in Western Canada and Washington and Oregon, although sales into Eastern Canada and offshore do occur. Two byproducts from the peeling process are peeler cores and wood chips. The wood chips support local pulp mills and the peeler cores are sold as agriculture stakes into Canada, the US and Mexico.
Always looking to improve their efficiencies and output, Coastland is in the process of putting in a new dryer which will allow them to dry 100% of their veneer, and a robotic arm is planned to salvage more of the veneer offcuts, which otherwise are chipped.
Coastland’s entire operation is impressive, their team are enthusiastic about what they do and this came through loud and clear to the Hoo-Hoo tour participants. Back on the bus the conversation continued with a lively discussion by the mixed industry experts in the pack!
The international convention will see a new leader emerge at the Duncan event, with Vancouver Island’s own Paul Beltgens stepping up to become the Snark of the Universe! Yes, Hoo-Hoo likes to have fun with unusual names and titles. Paul is a member of the Cowichan Valley Club. He owns and operates a sawmill in Chemainus, BC. In his new leadership role, Paul will represent the Hoo-Hoo and the forest products industry attending events around the world in the coming year.