We would tell anyone who’s interested in a job in forestry to pay attention to your job and pay attention to your coworkers. Come to work with a good attitude and try to learn one new thing, every day.
I started here seven years ago working in utilities with my twin, Andrews. We’ve only just been put on the same shift with one another, and it’s great. I’m the stacker operator, and my role is to stack finished packs of lumber. My brother is a strap operator. Once a stacker completes a pack of lumber, the strap operator makes sure the right number of straps goes around the stack and that the grade of lumber is correct.
I love having my brother work with me and it makes me work better. I have someone to talk to during my shift and we challenge one another. Sometimes people have a hard time figuring out who’s who, but almost everyone can tell us apart now.
West Fraser’s Huttig Mill is close to my home. It has great people and a great environment. My grandmother actually worked here for 40 years—when my brother and I saw the opportunity to work here, we decided to give it a try.
We’ve had friends and family work at the mill with us. If I was to give any advice to newcomers, I’d say always pay attention and try to grow as much as you can.
Working at West Fraser is pretty cool. Seven years is a long time, but something is always changing at the mill, and the work is never the same.
As my twin said, we like working with one another. We talk with each other and working with him motivates me to come to work every day. We ride to work together, we can eat lunch together, and there’s always some sibling rivalry.
Our grandmother was pretty happy when we got a job here. She’s pleased we have good jobs and that we work together. When we first told her, right away she wanted to know what positions we had. We work in the planer, but she was in the sawmill, eventually working as a drop sort operator.
- Aderico and Deangelo Stacker and strap operators
I grew up in Leola, Arkansas, and I grew up hearing about the rough labour of the “Sawmill Life”. For my entire life after that, I avoided working at a sawmill. But I was wrong.
Early on in my career, I worked primarily in brick laying, cabinet work, and control burns. But having to do contract work grew old. There came a point when I needed a steady source of income that was close to home and had benefits. And I did what I said I never would do: I sent in a job application to West Fraser’s Leola Lumber Mill.
I was hired as a forklift operator at the MOCO outfeed, and I fell in love with the mil. I went on the work as the Kiln forklift operator to eventually the kiln forklift lead. Now, I’m the Kiln Lead.
During this journey, which has been a short three years, I’ve had tons of on-the-job training opportunities. I’ve taken leadership classes and computer training, as well as have been trained in planer set-up and have learned everything about kilns.
Had I never taken the chance on working in the sawmill, I would never have discovered all these opportunities. I would suggest anyone who has doubts about working in a sawmill to take a leap of faith. I love working here, and I think you will, too.
- Duwayne Kiln Lead
At our small division we gain experience in every aspect of forest management. There’s never a boring moment because there’s always some new to do. Plus, at West Fraser we always can collaborate with our colleagues across the company.
Initially, I was hired to look after the Geographic Information System, ie making maps. Since then I’ve been responsible for: woodlands health and safety program, tree planting, scaling and other silviculture activities. Now I’m overseeing the development of our 20-year Forest Management Plan, which takes over three years to prepare.
For me, a working forest is a happy medium. Every user, whether it be humans, animals, and plants, all place different values on and have different needs from the forest. As foresters, we need to manage the forest so that mills can get wood, while maintaining the values for all other users.
When you’re working in the woodlands, it can involve some long and cold or wet days. But, in the end, we are home each night and usually have our weekends off. This gives me time to enjoy hobbies and spend time with my family. As with many foresters, I enjoy outdoors activities such as camping, canoeing and hunting.
My wife and I moved to Manning from Vancouver Island. We thought we’d only be here five years, but here we are 15 years later! Between knowing most people and the lack of traffic and congestion, we’ve grown to like the small-town life.
I would recommend a career in forestry. It’s rewarding and there are so many opportunities in forestry and regardless of your interests, from science to the outdoors to computer systems to community relations, there is something for you
- Stuart Woodlands Supervisor
I always want to learn new things and my job allows me to do exactly that. Being a Registered Professional Forest Technologist (RPFT) is project-based, so I’m always working on something different depending on the time of year.
I started my career as a contract firefighter during the summer and laying cut blocks in the winter. I eventually took a position in production at a sawmill and then into lumber sales, which lasted 22 years. When West Fraser bought Manning in 2015, I was offered the chance to go back to the bush with a position in Woodlands. It was the job I went to school for at 19 and, at 45, I was on my second career and now I couldn’t be happier!
There are so many elements within a “working forest” and working in this industry means we can be hands-on with the management. Everyone who works in Woodlands plays an important role, or many different ones, like me! Not only am I a log scaler and oversee some of our contract work, but I also handle the Indigenous Consultation and Engagement File. As major stakeholders of the land, they give us all a deeper appreciation for the wilderness and make us better land managers.
Sometimes our workload is a bit less defined, but I’m always happy to help a colleague on their project. For example, I could find myself building watercourse crossings for a few days; we’re saving habitats, one log bridge at a time.
I appreciate that West Fraser genuinely puts their people first. It’s a company that considers people’s safety of paramount importance, and it means employees and
contractors feel secure in their work. The company also invests in training its staff to handle every possible challenge.
I grew up in a city, but I enjoy the small-town life of Manning. There’s a slower pace, no traffic, and I’m close to the woods. I love paddling our northern rivers and seeing the country from the “original highways”. It gives me a chance to slip quietly through the wild places and it’s always a salve for the soul.
I like to share what I learn on the job with our community youth groups, too. And I’m an active member of the Royal Canadian Legion. There’s always a need for programs in the community and I get to meet new groups of people all the time!
If you’re considering a job in Forestry, go for it! From the field to the office to something more technical, there’s a place for you.
- Al Woodlands Supervisor
As a Woodlands Manager, there’s always something new to do. You need to be very creative to get things done, from simple issues to complex.
For 13 years I worked with the Alberta Government in the forestry industry. Then I went to work with the Woodlands Department at Manning Diversified Forest Products (MDFP) before it was bought by West Fraser. I’ve spent my entire career, all 39 years, in the Peace Country of Northern Alberta.
There are many young people who want a career in Forestry but stay in urban areas. While this might be possible for some, there are so many more opportunities for Forestry workers in rural areas.
Our division has a Forest Management Agreement with Alberta. This allows us to harvest timber from Crown land. That partnership comes with certain responsibilities, such as sustainable forest management and that’s our job. We want to ensure all community members can enjoy the forest for future generations. Our reforestation program is a major step in ensuring our long-term sustainability. This summer, we planted our 50 millionth seedling!
I love living in Manning because it’s a great place to raise children and get to know people. I have three children and six grandchildren. They’re the best thing that’s happened to me and I love spending time with them!
- Steve Woodlands Manager
My job allows me to spend a lot of time in the field, meet interesting people, and see results from my efforts. I can watch the forest I manage grow and progress through time.
Many different people benefit from a working forest, such as trappers, hunters, recreational users, the oil and gas industry, and, of course, the forestry business. As industry professionals, we must follow best practices, as well as provincial and federal legislation. All of this allows us to maintain the health and productivity of the working forest while providing raw materials for our mill.
I started as an assistant forester with Manning fresh out of university and held that job for 3.5 years before moving into the Silviculture Supervisor position, where I’ve been for 9.5 years. I grew up in a small town in Newfoundland and Manning is quite similar. It’s a small, tight-knit town with many recreational opportunities, some pretty nice scenery, and great people.
Working for West Fraser allows me a great work/life balance. I’m always challenged and receive full support, as well as the right tools for the job. West Fraser is such a large company. You can talk to people from other divisions to see how they do things or how they tackle similar problems that we may encounter.
My advice for pursuing a career in forestry is that if you get a summer job, or are just entering the profession, pay attention to the people around you. They are a wealth of knowledge. Foresters love to talk forestry!
Forestry is a great profession. You aren’t tied to a desk. You can possibly be in a different place doing different things every day of the week.
- Keith Silviculture Supervisor
I enjoy working in the natural resource sector and have always been passionate about sustainable forest management.
I’ve been in the industry for 12 years. I started as a summer student at Blue Ride Lumber near Whitecourt, Alberta looking after the manual tending program for 8 months. From there I spent 4 years in Fort McMurray working for the Government of Alberta’s wildfire branch. I felt I needed to get back into forestry and moved to North Vancouver Island, where I worked in tenure development and road construction. After 3 years, I accepted a position in BC Timber Sales in Williams Lake. After 5 years, I came back to West Fraser as a Planning Coordinator.
After moving for years, working in many different offices, and then returning to West Fraser, I can honestly say the work atmosphere in the Williams Lake office is extremely positive, friendly, and professional. There is a sense of pride and appreciation felt for employees. At the end of the day, everyone is a team. I also notice that many West Fraser employees have positive attitudes and carry an appreciation for the work and roles they fill.
I find the interaction between forest professionals, licenses, tenure and stakeholders to be unique and interesting. In my role, I am constantly learning and engaging with these groups. One of the greatest aspects of my job is being in the forest itself; on the ground and managing the challenges our province is currently facing.
A working forest means that it supports as many user groups as possible and supports a wide range of biodiversity, all while ensuring sustainable resource opportunities exist into the future. In my current position, I engage with First Nations, ranchers, guide outfitters, trappers, recreational users, the public, and government agencies. All of which have a vested interest when it comes to sustainable forest management, including West Fraser.
I live in a small community outside of Williams Lake, that is very rural. Williams Lake and its surrounding communities of the Cariboo are very involved in forestry. This area has also become very progressive and interested when it comes to initiating government-funded enhancement programs, Community Forests, and expanding recreation/conservation areas. I think it is important for community members to engage and participate in these forestry programs to become part of the progress.
Picture caption: the view from under the canopy of an older aged Fir stand that has been managed for Fir Bark Beetle Salvage targeting single stem infestation removal. Note the clearing/opening from prior years entry and the visible regeneration vs the younger healthy and vigorous stand adjacent for future harvesting opportunities. All of which help contribute to biodiversity on the landscape.
- Melissa Planning Coordinator
Every day brings a new challenge, and it is exciting! I get to witness (first hand) the evolution of sustainable forestry and all the great people who make it happen. Everyone here is passionate about what they do and are proud to be foresters.
I’ve been in the forestry industry for 5 years. I received my Bachelor of Science specializing in Wildlife Biology and a Master of Science in Ecology.
In my role as a professional wildlife biologist, I constantly study the system and the organisms therein. This is to help inform forestry practices and forest management strategies. A cornerstone of ecosystem-based forest management that provides for all species is the constant integration of new knowledge obtained through scientific investigation. I study our practices and the effects those practices have on wildlife habitats.
A working forest, to me, is an ecosystem in harmony. It is where timber harvesting, andreforestation respects and promotes innate values of forest systems such as biodiversity and ecosystem services. In this sense, economic gains from timber harvest and the resulting development of wood products are one of many benefits from sustainable forest management.
What I like about living in Hinton, Alberta, is that it’s not too big or too small. Hinton is a resource-dependent town, so many people here are directly or indirectly linked to forestry and have a deep appreciation for it. In my free time, I love backcountry hiking and canoeing.
- Laura Senior Biologist
I love that I can contribute to the long-term health and viability of our forests while integrating the interests of the local community and creating good jobs. While, at the same time, producing a valuable, useful product. I take pride in the work we do here and love telling anyone who will listen about West Fraser and the amazing opportunities we have.
My career with West Fraser began as an operations summer student in Williams Lake. I spent 3 years as a student there, working 4 and 8-month contracts until graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Forest Resource Management from the University of British Columbia. After graduation, I spent the summer working for the Williams Lake division, before being hired full time as a Logging Supervisor at Chetwynd Forest Industries (CFI). I then spent 4 years in operations, serving as Woodlands Safety Coordinator, before moving into a planning role. I have been a Planning Forester for 4 years now, with my focus currently on timber appraisal and cutting permit acquisition.
To me, a working forest means a forest where the biological, cultural, recreational and social needs of society are represented. I work hard to ensure that we are providing the right log, at the right time and the right cost to our mill. However, at the same time, I work diligently to ensure we protect water quality, wildlife habitat, cultural resources, and recreation opportunities. I am proud of the work that our team at CFI does to go above and beyond legal requirements. This proactive work helps ensure we can collaborate and work together with rights and stakeholders cooperatively.
Chetwynd Forest Industries is what I think of when I think about the future of Forestry in Interior BC. We have an efficient, top of the line mill, which can create the best value from a log. We also have an ORC which can generate value from our waste, and we have access to a fantastic fibre supply to keep it all running. In addition to a great facility, we have a great woodlands team, led by and comprised of enthusiastic, capable young people, who are forging the future of this company. I think we are heading in the right direction, and I can’t wait to see what opportunities the future holds for this division.
Living in a town like Chetwynd, West Fraser’s saying “make a living, make a life” is very accurate! It’s afforded me the opportunity to build my own house, shop, barn, chicken palace and spa complex on 10 acres 5 minutes from where I work. I know of few other places in this province where a person my age (33) can do all that!
Outside of work, I love learning new skills, making and mending things, though I often joke that my real hobby is any kind of hard work! I enjoy solo carpentry and have built several buildings for both myself and co-workers. My favourite building so far is the 2-storey 24’x30’ barn I built for my wife’s horse, using almost exclusively West Fraser products! I also enjoy working on old vehicles. In addition to carpentry and wrenching, I also enjoy welding and metalwork. Every year I cut up a scrap saw blade to make souvenir sculptures for our summer students to take back to school with them.
- Kit Planning Forester
Over the past year and a half that I have been working for Sundre Forest Products, I have received an incredible amount of career development support. The internal West Fraser courses provide networking opportunities, while also contributing to my supervisory knowledge and understanding of the company’s values. Also, colleagues have played an active role in my development through mentorship and taking time to pass on their knowledge. I am hoping to reciprocate through a long forestry career with West Fraser.
I started my career in the forestry industry as a planning summer student with a licensee in the Cariboo region of BC, working several terms up to my graduation from the University of British Columbia (UBC). While at UBC, I worked part-time in First Nations policy research and recreational planning. After completing my Bachelor of Science in Forestry, I started as an Assistant Forester with Sundre Forest Products in Alberta, gaining valuable experience in both the planning and operations divisions. I am currently supervising harvest operations while in the process of transitioning to a Planning Supervisor role.
To me, a working forest contributes equally to the environmental, economic, and social pillars of sustainable forest management. It provides long-term jobs and recreational opportunities to local communities, while also maintaining functional ecosystems. Sundre Forest Products meets these standards by harvesting stands in a way that emulates natural disturbance regimes representative of the forests we operate in, engaging with recreational and community stakeholders to reduce impact, and meeting or exceeding regulatory requirements.
If you are a person that likes to spend time in the bush and would like to contribute ideas to the areas you value the most, the best thing to do is take an active role in the long-term management of these landscapes. Foresters hold a unique role that requires individuals that can combine the use of cutting-edge technology and boots-on-the-ground experience. People that can blend these competing values will be invaluable to the long-term success of the industry.
I spend most of my free time hiking, camping, and mountain biking in the same areas that Sundre Forest Products operates, a perfect example of the benefits of a working forest! Banff National Park, west of Sundre, provides ample opportunities for both backcountry and lift-accessible skiing in the winter. I am an active member on the local Search and Rescue team, mountain bike clubs, and alpine club, keeping me quite active outside of work.
- Devon Planning Supervisor
I learned the business from the ground up, literally. 33 years ago, I started as a consulting forester doing field work 5 days a week. Moving through various positions in land management and eventually into timber marketing, investment management, and now in wood procurement. I can’t emphasize enough the need to learn about the entire business from planting the seedling to seeing the 2x4 lumber on the shelf at the store.
I received a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management at Clemson University and an MBA at the University of South Carolina.
What I like most about my job is the opportunity to get to know the teams at the West Region mills and to see the focus we put on being the low-cost producer of Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) lumber.
Whether it is land management foresters, loggers, wood buyers, or mill employees, just about everyone I have met cares about their job and cares about the forest resource that provides the raw material that makes our business run. The wood products industry has a long history of scientific, sustainable forest management. Even though West Fraser does not own any land in the US South, we still are strong stewards of the land by providing an important market for forest products that allow for the proper management to be implemented across the landscape.
Outside of work, I enjoy traveling, camping and hiking. My wife and I have had the chance to travel to some interesting places like Moscow and Antarctica. We have a goal to set foot in all the national parks west of the Mississippi.
- Tim Regional Procurement Manager
My job allows me to work outside and interact with many people on a regular basis. It is a challenging job, but it is fun and rewarding
I’ve been in the forestry industry for the past 32 years, starting in land management and transitioning into timber procurement. I graduated from North Carolina State University and I am a North Carolina Registered Forester. At West Fraser, I like having the responsibility and the flexibility to get the job done. We have a good group of people that work well together.
There are many different options within the forestry community for careers. Timber is a sustainable resource, and if we take care of our resources, it will be sustainable for many generations.
In my free time, I enjoy coaching ball teams. You can usually find me on a baseball field or a basketball gym almost every evening. I grew up playing sports, so naturally, all 3 of my kids participate in sports. I’m a big believer that sports teach kids about teamwork. West Fraser has been a good sponsor for many of the sports programs in our community.
- Ted Procurement Manager
I have really enjoyed being a part of the Newberry, South Carolina team, especially during West Fraser’s recent modernization, and expansion, of the Newberry Mill. It’s exciting to see our team work together daily to achieve common goals for success.
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Forestry at North Carolina State University and have been in the forestry industry for 38 years. I started out working in roles as a procurement forester, land management forester, and I’ve been in my current role as Procurement Manager for the past 12 years at West Fraser.
If you’re considering a career in forestry, I’d say good communication, and people skills are key to being successful as a forester. A big part of my job is working with people, both inside and outside of West Fraser.
I love living in South Carolina in a small town, rural atmosphere. We have plenty of recreational opportunities, living just a few hours from the mountains or the coast. Outside of work, I enjoy hiking, camping, and travelling. I also go hunting and play golf on occassion.
- Steve Procurement Manager
West Fraser has a good group of dedicated people that all work together to help meet our goals. A career in forestry covers a wide range of outdoor jobs, and there is likely a job that will fit your interests. They range from working directly with mills buying and harvesting timber to industry and government timber management and silviculture jobs.
I’ve been in the industry for 24 years. I started with West Fraser in 2015 as a Woodyard and Procurement Supervisor with the Russellville and Mansfield, Arkansas timber procurement team. After I received my Bachelor of Science in Industrial Forestry, I began working as a procurement forester buying pine and hardwood timber from private landowners, the US Forest Service and direct haul loggers. Later, before coming to West Fraser, I worked in harvesting, supervising and coordinating contract loggers and dispatch log trucks.
There is always something different going on in timber procurement at Russellville - timber cruising, working with loggers, landowners and the US Forest Service, and spending time in the sawmill and woodyard allows me to interact with a variety of departments within West Fraser.
Living in Russellville has a small city atmosphere with a school system that provides great opportunities for our kids. It has close access to both outdoor and large city activities. Outside of work, I enjoy traveling and spending time outdoors camping and fishing when I’m not watching my kids play volleyball and baseball.
- Doug Woodyard & Procurement Supervisor
Being a forester has many rewarding experiences: from guest speaking at elementary schools on the benefits of the forest products industry, to developing management plans for local landowners. Working with professional logging crews on tracts that we purchase and making sure we adhere to all best management practices is enjoyable work. Being able to watch the tree harvested, transported to our mill and be processed into lumber is amazing.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management & Utilization from the University of Georgia and have been in the forestry industry for 28 years. In my current role as Regional Procurement Manager, I have been able to expand my understanding of the challenges and successes at West Fraser’s mills in Northeast Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolinas. It has increased my knowledge of our industry and taught me how important it is to remain competitive in varying lumber markets.
What I like most about my job is meeting our procurement teams and helping build our future leaders. I also enjoy learning about each mill’s procurement basin (where we get our logs), who our competitors are and where West Fraser compares with wood cost.
I have lived in Wilmington, NC, for 20 years. My wife and I enjoy spending time at Wrightsville Beach, walking downtown Wilmington and eating lunch by the river. Drinking a beer on the back porch after a long week of traveling ain’t bad either.
- Craig Regional Procurement Manager
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