“To ensure our forest resources remain sustainable we strive to achieve the most value from them by investing in our people and technology.” – Greg Smith, president, Gilbert Smith Forest Products Ltd.
Gilbert Smith Forest Products Ltd. (GSFP), based in Barriere, British Columbia, four and a half hours inland from Vancouver, has manufactured specialty Cedar products for more than 65 years. “To diversify our fiber supply, we work with some other species, including Western White Pine and oversize Spruce, but our main focus is Western Red Cedar,” stated Greg Smith, company president and grandson of the company’s founder, Gilbert Smith.
GSFP specializes in rough green blanks for remanufacturing into pattern stock, bevel blanks, S1S2E boards and other specialty products. Now with the addition of their new dry kiln in 2023 they now offer rough and finished kiln-dried products.
“We are constantly trying to get the most value from a precious resource by investing in our people and new technology,” Smith said.
GSFP, a multi-generational family company, began as a Cedar pole plant in 1955. In 1967 a sawmill was built on the same site and then, over the ensuing years, continuous improvements, upgrades and additions have been made.
GSFP’s mission statement is: “To create and enhance stakeholder value by supplying high quality wood products to global markets. We do this while caring about our employees and the community, providing careful stewardship of the forests and building strong, long-term relationships with valued customers.”
Smith commented, “The approach at our company is: first and foremost, we’re a manufacturing facility, and we want to have a safety culture that will ensure that people – about 85 employees – are going home to their families every day. From that, when you have the workforce grounded in that sense, then you can consider how you further advance your business. What I really try to push is creative thinking and problem solving. But more so it’s trying to focus on specific programs or systems and just keep getting better and better at them.”
GSFP has made many mechanical upgrades, the most recent being the addition of their Nyle dehumidification dry kiln. Smith said GSFP chose Nyle because of their “expertise in dehumidification drying and energy management capacity. Once we landed on that, we knew the goal was to maintain a high drying quality to improve product value.”
The mill and the new kiln are entirely powered by renewable hydroelectricity. In line with one of GSFP’s core values of sustainability, “We looked at what kind of technology is out there that we can use to dry a quality product without impacting greenhouse gas emissions,” Smith said. “In British Columbia, we are extremely fortunate with the hydroelectric generating capacity that we have in the province. So, we were able to dial into that available power source with a fully electric kiln.”
Smith said, “I think the future looks good for Gilbert Smith Forest Products. We’ve got a good team together, including adding Aidan Coyles who joined the sales department a few years ago, whose expertise in forestry has helped us implement these strategic investments. So, I think we are positioned well. Certainly, there are a few market challenges to get through but, at the same time, we have been at it producing lumber for over 50 years.
We’re good and we want to keep getting better by paying attention to the details that promote quality and value.
“The multi-generational family-run business continues to grow due to sustained customer, supplier, owner, employee, Indigenous and community support.”
For more information, visit www.gsfpcedar.com.