Thomson: Expanding future markets for B.C. wood

On a personal note, I’d like to recognize the contributions of Ross Gorman. He was known as much for philanthropy as business acumen.

In a time when electronic devices do much of our communicating for us, there’s something to be said for face-to-face interaction.

That’s why trade missions are so important.

It’s difficult to open up markets for B.C. products without setting foot in them. If you don’t understand your buyers, you don’t understand their needs or how you can fulfill them.

Last month, I led my third forestry trade mission to Asia, joined by a delegation of more than 25 senior executives from forest companies and associations from British Columbia and Alberta. Much was accomplished during this 12-day trip.

Jiangsu Province became the latest Chinese province to sign a memorandum of understanding with our government to increase the use of wood-frame construction.

I also met with the vice-minister of China’s national Ministry of Housing and Urban and Rural Development to discuss renewing the memorandum of understanding set to expire in March 2015.

Wood-frame buildings are energy-efficient and reduce carbon emissions, and the fact that China is moving towards greener building policies is a big win for B.C.’s forest sector. In Tokyo, I helped celebrate reconstruction efforts to help communities affected by Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011. I joined representatives from industry, as well the governments of Canada and Alberta, to present a ceremonial plaque to the local organization spearheading the construction of the Jericho Support Centre in Iwaki City.

The $1.88-million centre will feature medical, rehabilitation and life skills training facilities and is being built with B.C. wood products.

At the same time, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Canada Wood Office and the B.C. Council of Forest Industries (COFI) establishing a presence in Japan.

In attendance were many Japanese architects, builders and customers who have made Canada their preferred source for high-quality, sustainably-harvested wood products.

At the event, Japanese officials announced an award for a 9,000 square metre elderly care facility in Adachi Ward, Tokyo—the largest wood building of its kind in Japan.

It will feature a Midply shear wall system developed by FPInnovations and UBC.

B.C.’s growing business relationship with Korea made it a fitting place to wrap up the trade mission. I helped cut the ribbon at the official opening of the GICO Community Centre, the centrepiece of a 141-unit wood-frame housing complex, in a community east of Seoul. Canadian Maple Hall is so named, in honour of the Canadian contribution to the project. Trade missions are a critical part of our government’s strategy to strengthen and secure new investment and jobs.

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On a personal note, I’d like to close by recognizing the contributions of Ross Gorman who passed away recently at the age of 93. This was a huge loss for our community.

As the co-founder of Gorman Bros. Lumber, he built a very successful business with his brother John and a family-like culture within it. He was known as much for his philanthropy as his business acumen, and he will be missed.