After graduating from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, I interviewed with West Fraser at the Opelika, AL mill. After seeing the operations and all the incredible equipment involved with making lumber, I was immediately sold on joining the company.
Every day is a new and exciting challenge. My role allows me to get my hands in a little of everything around the mill and always learn something new. I have already been a part of a start-up of a new sawmill, lead a team for a small capital project in the planer mill, and focused on solving the root causes for machinery downtime across the site.
Working for West Fraser at the Opelika mill is an amazing opportunity. The site is being upgraded with a brand-new sawmill and planer mill and has great people to make it a best in class facility.
The lumber industry in the United States is seeing significant investment in building new mills or replacing sections of an older production line. All this new technology requires talented individuals to join the industry with an unlimited possibility for growth in their career.
The Auburn-Opelika community is a great place to live. The area has so much to do to maintain work life balance from the traditions of college football on Saturdays, hiking in National Parks, five golf courses, and several family events each weekend.
Outside of work I am usually out playing golf or tennis, eating at a restaurant in downtown Auburn, or traveling to explore new cities. I appreciate that I work for a company that allows me the time to balance work and all these activities that I enjoy.
- Ryan Reliability Engineer
I began my career with West Fraser in August 2017 as an Environmental Health and Safety Supervisor. I am an Army Combat Medic and find West Fraser is a proud supporter of the Armed Services. They take every action to ensure your family is taken care of in your absence if you’re called to duty.
What I like most about my job is the diversity and complexity of working in the mill. I really enjoy the personal relationships and team member values West Fraser instills in their employees. If you’re interested in forestry, then West Fraser is the company you need to work for. I believe working at West Fraser offers the potential for progression and stability.
West Fraser also allows me to have a healthy work life balance and I enjoy living nearby in Auburn, Alabama. In my free time, I enjoy whitewater rafting, riding my motorcycle and being actively involved in environmental improvements of parks and other outdoor resources within my community.
- Daniel Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) Supervisor
Don’t hesitate to take a chance on a career in forestry; there are countless different career paths available.
I started working as Shift Utility, and since then have held many other roles including as a Field Operator, Forklift Driver, and Pulp Grader. I currently spend the majority of my time in the finishing end of the mill, performing quality control on the final product as Grader, or operating the machinery that bales and wraps the finished pulp, as Balerman. My shift scheduling allows me to spend a generous amount of time away from work, meaning I get to spend more time with my husband and children than any other job prior has allowed me.
My advice? I say don’t hesitate to take a chance on a career in forestry; there are countless different career paths available. More and more women are making their mark in the trades by their ability to do their job well.
My family has been supported by the forest industry for 3 generations, and I’m proud knowing that I’m continuing that tradition on. I grew up surrounded by forests and forestry and love how we’re able to support our community by utilizing the renewable resources provided by our region. No other industry gives more to our community than the forestry sector, allowing our local families to thrive.
- Amy Bleach Plant Production Laborer
What I like about forestry is that you don’t have to be limited to traditional roles since every role is integral to making the industry successful
I enjoy the diversity of the work and the technical challenges. With the progression of technology, you are exposed to new things all the time which keeps the job interesting. There are so many different fields in forestry from the trades to operations to administration and marketing.
What I like about forestry is that you don’t have to be limited to traditional roles since every role is integral to making the industry successful. To create work/life balance, it is important to be able to leave work at work. With a flexible work schedule, West Fraser enables me to fully enjoy my time off.
- Christina Instrumentation Technician/E & I Lead Hand
I love the problem-solving aspect of the job, it ensures there is never a dull moment and it makes the job very rewarding.
I started out as a tower watchman and relief dispatch for Saskatchewan Wildfire. The team was so much fun, they convinced me to take the forestry program at the college. The next summer I worked in woodlands operations/silviculture, and later progressed to be a Forest Ecosystem Protection Specialist (Forestry Officer) before I moved to Alberta to work for West Fraser.
I love the daily scenery, there is nothing better than going to work and seeing the stuff that we get to see. I love the problem-solving aspect of the job, it ensures there is never a dull moment and it makes the job very rewarding. The companies I worked for all place high value on employees’ home/life balance. I have always been able to move my daily work hours around a bit to make time for my daughter. I have never felt like being a woman has held me back in this industry and I have always been treated like an equal. Forestry has been a very rewarding career choice for me.
- Janine Operations Supervisor
I like being part of the process of making something that people will use and appreciate
For women who are considering a career in forestry, I say Don’t hold back because forestry is a male dominated industry. Women are just as capable of doing the same jobs as men are. My success at West Fraser has been because of my hard work and dedication. I enjoy the physical labour and I also like being part of the process of making something that people will use and appreciate.
I have worked for West Fraser for more than a decade, and I have a child that is 18 years old. The company has been great at giving me time off for her school, holidays and other activities when needed. They also have a variety of different shifts available depending on your needs.
- Crystal Shift Relief Supervisor
Forestry is a very good industry to work in, people treat you very fairly and there are so many learning opportunities and challenges along the way
I started as a 4th Class Power Engineer, progressed to a 3rd Class Power Engineer and now I am the Relief Chief Operator. What I like most about the forestry industry is it is self-sustaining and recycles waste products such as: chips, fines, and hog fuel.
My advice is you can’t go wrong with a career in forestry, if you enjoy working in a team environment but also being independent to work alone at times too. It’s a very good industry to work in, people treat you very fairly and there are so many learning opportunities and challenges along the way.
To create a healthy work/life balance, I use my holidays to go on vacation. I find the shift schedule is really good with the days we work to our days off. The company helps by being understanding with changing schedules when needed or if wanted, excused days if needed, and always very family orientated.
- Jasmine Energy Plant /3rd Class Power Engineer
My job at West Fraser lets me weigh and balance biology, ecology, socio-economics, and much more. If you enjoy diversity in your day, being outside and the idea of contributing to the management of one of BC’s greatest resources, forestry is a great career choice
My first job in forestry was as a tree planter during summer break from university. It was tough work, but a great way to get used to being in the bush every day and get an introduction to real forestry. The next summer I worked for the Federal Government assessing stream health. At graduation, started working for West Fraser in silviculture, and I have since switched over to the planning department and have been a Planning Forester. I’ve also taken on roles including Safety Representative and the coordinator of my division’s summer student program.
My job at West Fraser lets me weigh and balance biology, ecology, socio-economics, and much more. It’s great to be able to have a job that allows for time outdoors and time indoors (on some rainy days a desk is a nice place to be!). Contributing to an industry that is renewable and such an important part of BCs economy is another big plus.
If you enjoy diversity in your day, being outside and the idea of contributing to the management of one of BC’s greatest resources, it’s a great career choice. I create a work life balance by only taking on extra roles/activities that really add value to my or my family’s life. Balancing a full-time career and a young family is certainly challenging, but I’ve been able to find a balance that works. I rely on the help of my husband and family, but also on the flexibility of West Fraser. It makes a big difference in making family life a lot easier.
- Janelle Planning Forester
What I like about the forestry industry is that it offers many diverse fields of employment depending on your interests and strengths
I graduated from NAIT’s Forest Tech Program, and my first job was in a forest nursery tending to seedlings/plants, research plots and other greenhouse duties. I later joined the woodland department doing cutblock layout, regen, surveys, scaling logs, dealing with weight/scale trucks, doing land use contracts with oil & gas, industry and farmers. Several years ago I joined Slave Lake Pulp as a Utility Operator and learned to offload some of the chemicals used in the process of making pulp.
My advice to women considering a career in forestry is to have conversations with people already enrolled in the forest industry studies or working in forest industry jobs. What I like about the forestry industry is that it offers many diverse fields of employment depending on your interests and strengths, you can work in both private and government sectors.
- Carmen Utility/Chem Prep Operator
One of my goals is to be able to produce a future stand that will be a better forest then what was there previously.
I ran my own consulting company before I joined West Fraser as a Silviculture Supervisor. My biggest draw to forestry is being able to work outside, hands on in the field. I like being able to come back to a block after it has been planted and seeing how the stand has progressed. One of my goals is to be able to produce a future stand that will be a better forest then what was there previously.
I also like that the forestry industry is continually changing with new ideas from individuals and adapting to the advances in technology. I find it beneficial to try out new ideas to see if we can make improvements on our current projects and programs.
If you have a passion for the outdoors, then a forestry career will be a great choice, but forestry is more than just working outdoors. There are a lot of different opportunities ranging from harvesting and silviculture to manufacturing and research. Get as much experience as you can to see what area interests you the most.
“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life ~ unknown”.
- Shari Silviculture Supervisor
It is very important to me to have a career where I am making an impact
I have been in the forestry industry for four years. I started as a Silviculture summer student and worked as a Silviculture Assistant my second year there. I’m currently a Silviculture Supervisor with West Fraser and I run all the herbicide activities and take care of the aerial seeding program at our division. I also help with mechanical site prep and pile burning during the winter months.
Sustainability is a huge reason why I got into this industry. It is very important to me to have a career where I am making an impact and in the Silviculture department I can do that. We take care of the reforestation on a cutblock after harvest and prescribe different methods of treatment so that we can bring back a successful stand.
My advice to women is to not be intimidated and that anything is possible if you just put the work in. The number of women joining this industry has grown tremendously. There are so many aspects to forestry such as field, technology, research, and teaching that are pursuable. Getting into forestry was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The experiences and skills that I have obtained so far have been great.
Creating a work life balance can be difficult sometimes, depending on which projects you are working on. I try to make sure that I give myself time to recharge and leave work at the office. I also have amazing superiors that are very understanding and flexible. Outside of work, I really enjoy playing sports and love taking photographs. I’m constantly taking pictures wherever I go. Traveling is a huge part of my life and I’m grateful that I work for a company that lets me take time.
- Rashelle Silviculture Supervisor
I like the extensive opportunities for learning, growth and advancement in the field.
I started as a warehouse operator before becoming finishing line operator, and now I’m a dewatering operator. I like the extensive opportunities for learning, growth and advancement in the field.
To women in the industry or looking to get into the industry I say “go for it!” In a society where for so many years these types of industries were male-dominated, it’s empowering to see more & more women entering the workforce and thriving. There is so much more as women we have to offer as part of these communities & Slave Lake Pulp plays a huge role as a strong foundation for young women to succeed and accomplish goals throughout their career.
As a mother of two teenagers, life can be hectic but Slave Lake Pulp provided me with a work schedule that fit my lifestyle and afforded me with reasonable time away to spend with my family. With so many different positions available to choose from, there are options for schedules to best suit your needs.
- Carmen Production (operator)
I am able to get outside and explore the nature around me, while I help create sustainable healthy forests for the generations to come.
I started out logging for a local logging contractor in Williams Lake for 4 years. I ran equipment and progressed to a supervisor for the logging company. I then moved to West Fraser as a Woods Assistant. I worked in this role for about 1.5 years, after which I was promoted to Operations Supervisor.
I like the diversity, and the challenges that I am able to work through. The geographical regions you get to explore, and I am constantly learning. I am able to get outside and explore the nature around me, while I help create sustainable healthy forests for the generations to come.
My advice would be to get your hands dirty! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and work hard. You can achieve anything you want if you put your mind to it!
I am able to create a work/life balance by having weekends and evenings free to spend with my family and friends. I also get to enjoy my passion of the outdoors most days at work, so this is helpful for enjoying my job immensely. West Fraser is great about helping to do this by creating good working hours and supporting us in time off to make sure we are rested and get to enjoy time doing the things we love. They are flexible about the hours you work as well to help with the schedule needed by your family.
I spend a lot of my free time in the summer camping, fishing, or hunting. In the winter I enjoy spending time playing hockey, or snowmobiling. I am extremely lucky that a lot of my passions go so well with my job.
- Amanda Operations Supervisor
I love the work. Sawdust smells like home to me. I like working in the forest industry because it is a great career that allows for workers to support a family and to be a part of the culture of B.C.
I started at Williams Lake Plywood in cleanup while I was attending university, and later started working summer production. I took every opportunity for more training and I progressed to a permanent position as the Safety Representative for my crew. I was a member of the Safety Committee for four years, representing two different crews in that time. It was through my experience as a safety rep that I developed a real passion for workplace safety and decided to pursue it as a career. Today I am training with our current Safety Resource person and I love the work.
Sawdust smells like home to me. I like working in the forest industry because it is a great career that allows for workers to support a family and to be a part of the culture of British Columbia. Multiple generations of my family have been raised on timber dollars and I am very proud of where I am and where I come from. I also enjoy working in the forest industry because there is room for personal growth and development, especially within a company like West Fraser that covers a vast amount of territory. There are positions for varying skills in the forest industry and opportunities for training to build those skills.
For women considering a career in forestry, I say do it! Too many times my friends have avoided applying for work at the mill because they feel it is a “man’s job.” I certainly would recommend plywood to women and we have a high percentage of women working at our plant. I believe if you are willing to work hard and are smart about how you do it, you can achieve it.
- Jessica Shift Coordinator/Alternate Safety Resource
I started my accounting career in public practice in 2008 and received my Chartered Accountant (CA) designation in 2014. I joined West Fraser shortly after as a Divisional Accountant at Sundre Forest Products. I was there just under two years, before being promoted to my current position as Divisional Controller at Blue Ridge Lumber.
Starting in public practice exposed me to many different companies in various industries. I love that I now get to work with one company and specialize in one industry. The contributions that I make are valued and used to make informed business decisions. Every day is different and brings a new challenge. The varied nature of the role means I get to use different aspects of my CA training on a daily basis, which is something I really value.
One of the things that has always impressed me about West Fraser is how, for a very large company, it really feels like a family-run business. Blue Ridge Lumber is a great place to work because of the people. Everyone that works here takes a lot of pride in the job they do and the industry that they are in.
West Fraser promotes a family-first culture and they stand by it. Having five young children, this is very important to me and allows me to better balance responsibilities in my life. Living in Whitecourt, AB, only a half-hour drive from the mill also helps with this. For a small town, it has many amenities and a lot of great activities for young families. Edmonton is also close enough to make day trips possible.
- Jeff Divisional Controller
I entered forestry because I wanted a career path that was challenging and rewarding. After completing my first year at the University of Alberta, I received an offer to work for West Fraser as a Silviculture Assistant in Blue Ridge. I had an excellent summer filled with hard work and tons of fun, and I first experienced those challenges which I sought.
I’m now on my second summer working in Blue Ridge, this year within Quality Control at the sawmill. I’m learning about a number of functions within the sawmill, planer mill, energy plant and kilns, as well as some woodlands operations.
What makes my job particularly satisfying is that every day provides a new and interesting challenge; the world of forestry is so complex. West Fraser makes sure that its students make meaningful contributions to the industry, all the while making sure that our safety is always the number one concern.
Even though West Fraser is a large company—you have endless options and resources to support learning opportunities—you feel like a family here. The people that work for West Fraser care deeply about your wellbeing, and make sure that every day you experience something you haven’t before. There are so many positives and benefits to working for West Fraser; I highly suggest to any student looking for a place in forestry to look into this company.
- Gillian Quality Control Student
I started working for West Fraser right after I graduated from high school. Following that, I completed a diploma in Natural Resources and Environmental Technology at the College of New Caledonia, and am now entering my final year of the Forest Ecology and Management degree program at UNBC.
My goal over the next few years is to work towards certification as a Registered Professional Forester, enhancing my ability to make a positive contribution to the management of BC’s forest resources.
The best part of my job is getting out to the bush every day. Outside of work, I do a lot of activities in BC’s backcountry, so it’s great to be able to help preserve and manage the beautiful places where we live.
Students can expect a fun, challenging, and rewarding experience in the forest industry, and West Fraser in particular is an innovative company with friendly, hard-working staff.
- Tristan Silviculture Summer Student
In 2012, I graduated from high school and began a two-year diploma in Electrical Engineering Technology. I spent the next three summers as a summer student at Blue Ridge Lumber and, after graduating, I struggled to find a job in my field so I asked to stay on full-time as an operator at Blue Ridge.
After a year of working on production I started training for Quality Control (QC), and shortly after transferred to High Prairie to be the QC supervisor in the sawmill.
The best part about my current job is getting to work with a wide variety of machinery in the sawmill and learn how it all works. There’s a lot of investment in the mill coming up, so I’m looking forward to seeing all of the new technology that will be coming in the future.
I like working in High Prairie. The people in the sawmill are all very close knit and there are three lakes all within a 30-minute drive of the mill, so I can go fishing after work.
If you’re thinking about coming to work for West Fraser, expect to find a company that’s committed to you. Here, hard work and dedication pay off if you stick with it.
- Kody Quality Control Supervisor
At 7 years old I decided that I wanted to become a professional forester, just like my father. In particular, I wanted to supervise logging operations; I’ve always been fascinated by the machines, processes and technology used in harvesting.
In 2009, I attended UNBC and began working with West Fraser as a summer student, gaining experience in silviculture and harvesting operations. After graduating in 2014, I took on a full-time position with the company’s Quesnel Division as an Operations Coordinator. I supervise harvesting, road construction and hauling, as well as ensure that production, quality, environmental and legal requirements are met in a safe and cost-effective manner.
I like being outside and working with the logging equipment, especially with new technology such as tethered machines and selective harvesting. A career in forestry means I not only get to work outdoors in nature, but also play an increasingly integral role in managing it.
The best thing about West Fraser is, if you show you’re keen and eager to learn, they’ll help you pursue your interests and gain invaluable experience and training. I am looking forward to taking on more responsibility by managing large-scale harvest operations projects, such as major road design and development.
- Kyle Operations Coordinator
I am a Mechanical Engineering student and I did my engineering co-op at Cariboo Pulp & Paper.
Until I started working at Cariboo Pulp & Paper, I had no exposure to the forestry industry. My agricultural background coloured my views towards other industries, but my experience with West Fraser provided me with a healthy dose of perspective. The scale of operations present in a continuously-run facility is immense. My understanding of the forestry industry grew in likewise proportion.
While employed by West Fraser, I worked as a Reliability Engineering intern. My responsibilities centered on identifying problem-prone or attention-deficit equipment and remedying their maintenance practices. The diversity of work in my co-op motivated me to approach these challenging tasks like a personal project rather than a chore. My hope is to apply these problem-solving and research skills in completing my engineering degree. After I complete my degree, the opportunity to return to West Fraser would be incredibly enticing.
As an engineer, there are few other industries that will offer a spectrum of tasks that incorporate mechanical, electrical, chemical, structural, instrumentation and manufacturing engineering knowledge. Personally, the best aspect of working at West Fraser was the sense of community within the workplace. I could go boating with my supervisor on weekends and play soccer with members from other departments during the week. In trying to establish myself at West Fraser, I became a part of the community, which was an unexpected benefit. It is something that I will cherish and will actively seek in my future career.
- Logan Engineering co-op student at Cariboo Pulp & Paper