Wadlegger Logging and Construction Ltd recently bought Clusko Logging’s hard assets and harvesting rights in the Clearwater area.
Hans Wadlegger, co-owner of the company, said the purchase has to do with the closing of Canfor’s Vavenby mill and the possible transfer of tenure from Canfor to Interfor.
“In this environment, there’s going to be fewer trees being cut in this valley and Clusko is looking at some other opportunities, so we’ve made an agreement with them to buy their hard assets here in Clearwater,” he said.
“We bought their shop, the land, and the camp, but what we were most interested in was their quota.”
Wadlegger noted Clusko had the rights to harvest 43,000 cubic metres in the area and with the purchase, which was completed Oct. 25, Wadlegger’s employees will have more stability to stay in the valley and work from home.
The downturn in the forestry industry also hit Wadlegger’s operation, with him describing things as “chaotic,” adding it’s impossible to make a proper business model and everyone is working week to week.
“It’s been a real downturn for us, but we’ve been fortunate that we’ve been able to find enough other work to keep everybody going, though it certainly hasn’t been business as usual,” he said.
He added making such a business move as the Clusko purchase during a downturn could result in being able to take advantage of opportunities when the situation in the industry stabilizes down the road.
Wadlegger pointed to the recession in 2008, saying his company was able to remain aggressive in the industry during that time, which provided benefits when things finally turned around.
“The opportunities aren’t when things are good, it’s when things aren’t; if you’re a stable and secure enough company you can take advantage,” said Wadlegger, noting that while the deal will have some benefits for Wadlegger Logging, it doesn’t really help the community as a whole.
“This is a good move for our company, it allows us to maintain our current size and employees, but essentially, it’s a net loss for the community; it’s not like we’ve taken Clusko’s operation and incorporated it into us. That’s not what’s happening.”
Though Wadleggers are buying a hard asset and cutting rights, the jobs Clusko was providing in the community will be gone.
He said if and when Interfor gets the transfer of tenure from Canfor, and his company begins working with the former group, Wadlegger Logging and Construction will probably do some hiring, providing a few jobs in the area.
He also added that over time he believes the industry will settle and become more stable, but he doubts it’ll ever provide the jobs and revenue it once did.
“We might find some stability and profit in the industry, that’s the long term goal for us right now,” he said.
“I know the rumors out there, ‘Oh they’re buying Clusko,’ but it’s not really changing our operations — we’re looking for more insurance and stability, to work with Interfor, and then try and figure out where we go from here, but it’s very much an industry in turmoil.”