Langley-based forestry company San Group looks at expanding its northwest presence, just weeks after announcing a $100 million investment in Port Alberni.
In a visit to Terrace June 9, San Group president Suki Sanghera said it wants to build a sawmill to process wood it already acquires here and ships out for processing and has plans to acquire more.
Sanghera and John Langstroth, the company’s vice president of sales operations, met with City of Terrace officials, keying on the prospect of securing a spot at the Skeena Industrial Development Park just south of the Northwest Regional Airport.
Their visit came a week after San announced it is spending $100 million in Port Alberni to expand its operations there. Of that amount, $60 million will bolster the company’s ability to ship lumber by container ships from Port Alberni’s deep sea port.
Northwest B.C.’s geographic location with ports in Prince Rupert and Kitimat was a natural choice for the company’s expansion plans, said Sanghera who co-owns the company with his brother and CEO of San Group, Kamal Sanghera.
“This area (Terrace) fits well with us since we can connect our operations in Port Alberni with barges,” he said.
City of Terrace economic development manager Deklan Corstanje said discussions are still in their initial stages, but it is “a really promising looking development.”
“They’ve made some really significant investments in the future and they’re a great fit for the region with their whole approach to value added forestry products since they use the whole tree… So obviously, waste will be minimum and benefits for the community and hopefully the environment is at a maximum,” added Corstanje.
If the company proceeds with its plan, Sanghera said it would need 40 to 50 acres for a mill producing 50 to 60 million board feet of lumber a year that would cost approximately $60 million to build.
“We’re still in the planning step but to facilitate that much production it would require 60-70 people,” said Sanghera about the prospects of creating local jobs.
He said the intent is to use every bit of fibre that comes from the forest to ensure a zero wastage policy – similar to its operations elsewhere.
In the past four years since they began operating in Port Alberni, San Group invested more than $100 million to establish three new facilities in the city and currently employs over 400 people.
In Terrace, San Group is aiming for a joint venture with one of the First Nations and will be meeting with Kitselas and Kitsumkalum – both have forestry operations.
They will also meet with Kitwanga First Nation – an hour east of Terrace along Hwy 16 – with whom the company has been doing business for a while. San Group purchases dimensional lumber, mostly cedar and occasionally logs, from Kitwanga Forest Products and reprocesses it.
“So we’re familiar with the fibre in the region and the people and we’re looking at possibilities to enhance what we’re doing here in the northwest on a small scale to a larger one,” said Sanghera.
San has been operating on Vancouver Island since 2016 and markets itself as the province’s largest manufacturer of value-added market-ready wood products which are exported to more than 27 countries.
The company says it keeps jobs on Canadian soil which is not often case when fibre is directly exported to other countries.