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Feature Story


Downie/Selkirk’s facilities are conveniently located in the heart of Cedar country in Revelstoke, B.C.
Downie/Selkirk Upgrades Bring Success

By Wayne Miller 

Revelstoke, B.C.— The management and employees at Selkirk Specialty Wood Ltd., and its sister company, Downie Timber Ltd., are committed to providing quality products and service to its customers by utilizing state-of-the-art equipment at both facilities.

In the past 12 years, more than $80 million have been reinvested in upgrades at Selkirk, a remanufacturing facility established in 1998, and Downie Timber, a 55-year-old sawmill that has operated under ownership of the Ross Gorman family since 1988.

While Selkirk’s workforce focuses on producing finished products, the staff at Downie Timber purchases 70 percent of its log supply from the interior of British Columbia and manages provincial forestlands that produce Western Red Cedar, Spruce, Douglas Fir and Hemlock. Annual Cedar production by Selkirk and Downie Timber exceeds 85 million board feet.
John Obetkoff is in charge of sales for Downie Timber Ltd.

Selkirk’s primary finished products consist of A and Better Clear Cedar, knotty bevel, V.J. panel, 5/4x6 A.K. deck and finger-joint Cedar. The firm’s site includes a 50,000-square-foot plant and a warehouse. Substantial operational adjustments have been executed to accommodate the increase in productivity precipitated by the upgrades at the Downie Timber sawmill between 2000 and 2004. Those upgrades include a double length infeed small log line, which is designed to improve log recovery and productivity, as well as a new headrig and setworks, an optimized edger, a grading station, grade mark readers, optimized trimming, trim end recovery and a stacker.

According to Jack Heavenor, a company spokesperson, a new planer line was installed in 2005 to accommodate the increased sawmill production. This project consisted of a new infeed/outfeed to the firm’s existing planer and an eight-tray sorting system equipped with automatic trimming and hot wax at both ends.

“We th
Rob Marusic, who handles sales at Selkirk Specialty Wood Ltd., consults with Marco Endrizzi, who oversees the company’s shipping department. Scott Stockton (photo unavailable) is also an instrumental part of the sales team at Selkirk.
en installed three raised grade stations that work independently of each other,” Heavenor said. “These enable us to get the grade of wood right, as well as provide flexibility to make ‘cut in two’ decisions that maximize board value. The result of our upgrades at the Downie planer is that we now have a finishing plant that’s in complete balance with our sawmill.”

Back in 2000, noted Heavenor, Selkirk’s management decided to focus on Cedar as “a big part of our future. We began upgrading and preparing then for what we anticipated would be our core business. Then in 2002, after adding a new backend and an optimized trim line, we put in an Optimill DLI, which increased our production capacity, improved our ability to get the right log to the right products, and greatly improved our recovery through the use of optimization and positioning.”

Heavenor continued, “Although Cedar producers have struggled with Softwood Duties, exchange rates and difficult market conditions in 2004, we are committed to Cedar as our core business. The Cedar market is improving in 2006, and Cedar is once again demonstrating that it is somewhat counter cycle to the dimension lumber market.”

Selkirk markets Cedar in a variety
Downie Timber purchases 70 percent of its logs from the interior of British Columbia, and manages provincial forestlands of Western Red Cedar, Spruce, Douglas Fir and Hemlock.
of widths and thicknesses, ranging from 5/4x4 to 12-inch in A and Better Clears to 7/8-inch kiln-dried boards, and decking in lengths up to 20-feet. Ease in producing such a diversified product line is possible due to the fact that Downie Timber operates two log lines. One cuts the smaller logs that range from 4-to-16 inches while the larger line handles logs that are 18-to-48 inches.

The sawmill’s physical location in Revelstoke works to the advantage of both Selkirk and Downie Timber.

Heavenor explained, “We’re in the heart of the interior Cedar country. We are centrally located to wood coming from the Kootnay region, which covers the southeast corner of British Columbia, as well as east from the Columbia area and west from the Shuswap North Okanagan. This places us in a very advantageous position.”

The finished products manufactured by Selkirk are marketed to stocking distributors, many of which are located in the Midwest, Great Lakes and New England areas of the United
This aerial view clearly shows the entire Downie/Selkirk operation.
States. Top sellers for the company are Cedar decking and paneling, A and Better Clear and No. 3 Common 7/8 boards.

“We believe we make a quality product that is in the upper quartile in our industry,” Heavenor said.

In addition to Cedar, products that are available from the mill at Downie Timber include Spruce and Hemlock dimension as well as Douglas Fir, some of which is exported to Japan and Europe. The firm also exports clear Cedar products to the United Kingdom via an agent. However, 90 percent of Selkirk’s sales are to North America.

Selkirk ships via rail and truck.

Downie Timber operates nine dry kilns and has the capability to put one million board feet of lumber in its nine kilns at any time. The dry kilns are heated by wood waste.

About 90 percent of the workforce at Downie Timber is comprised of men, while
During the past 12 years, Downie/Selkirk has reinvested more than $80 million in upgrades to its facilities and equipment, such as this infeed to double arbour gang edger.
at Selkirk, women comprise 70 percent of the workforce. All totaled, the two facilities and woodlands provide 425 fulltime jobs for local residents.

“I believe we have an enthusiastic group of employees who are focused on quality and consistency. This dedication, along with our recent upgrades in equipment and technology, will allow us to continue to be a consistent producer of quality Cedar products over the long term,” Heavenor said.

Selkirk Specialty Wood Ltd. and Downie Timber Ltd. are members of the North American Wholesale Lumber Assoc. and the Western Red Cedar Lumber Assoc.

“The ability to adapt to change is critical to success,” added Heavenor. “If five or 10 years ago we had decided not to upgrade our facilities in order to efficiently meet customer needs in a rapidly changing industry, we would not be in business today.”

At Selkirk, a new planer and green chain was installed in 2005 to accommodate increased production at the firm’s sawmill.

Boxes of A&B Better boards are stacked and ready to ship. Selkirk markets Cedar in a variety of widths and thicknesses.


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