Jan 17, 2023News
New BC Premier David Eby and forests minister Bruce Ralston are setting out to remake the province’s forestry industry to one that crafts high-value products here at home rather than shipping raw logs for milling elsewhere. By creating more finished products here, the industry would support more jobs with less timber.
Crafting innovative wood products locally is a familiar theme for Teal Jones. It’s what we’ve always done.
When founder Jack Jones returned from the Second World War he used his army stipend to start the company as a one-man cedar roofing mill. It wasn’t long before his sons were old enough to start cruising timber and bringing in the cedar he needed to cut shingles, shakes, and siding with his growing labour force.
Today, his sons Tom and Dick remain true to their father’s legacy, employing more than 1,000 British Columbians across the entire process – from planning harvests to replanting new forests.
Well over half of those employees work in value-added milling and manufacturing, more than 500 at the company’s Surrey headquarters alone. With seven distinct milling and manufacturing operations on one site, we’re able to direct each log to its best, highest-value use. We make more than 18,000 products at that one site, from big timbers needed for rail ties or bridges to lumber for housing and building new decks to speciality artisanal cuts. We sort down to the individual piece, pulling aside special pieces of clear wood for blocks we call tonewood, architectural features, or items of furniture. Cedar and spruce tonewood blocks go to a speciality Teal Jones mill in the interior where we have a crew that makes them into guitar tops – we are one of the world’s largest makers of this high-value, speciality item used in the making of acoustic guitars.
Many of our cuts are made to the specifications of customers who rely on us for the materials they need to make their own products. Some of those customers are themselves value-added wood products manufactures – remanufacturers in the industry jargon. Teal Jones partners with a dozen BC remanufacturers, providing them the ‘blanks,’ or rough-cut lumber, they use to make everything from doors and window frames to heavy timbers for industrial use.
One such relationship allowed us to play a small role in the recovery from 2021’s floods – we provided the big 14×14 inch timbers used to create the mats needed to support heavy equipment working on soft ground to rebuild washed-out highways and bridges. We were able to retool one of our mills and start getting these timbers to the company making the matts within a week of getting the call.
Remanufacturers, construction companies, furniture makers, and musical instrument makers rely on Teal Jones for the raw products they need to keep operating, and to keep their own local employees engaged. If you have done a renovation, built a new fence, or picked up a board at Home Depot recently there’s a good chance you are also part of this supply chain.
Nothing goes to waste in our mills – 100 per cent of every log entering our mills is used, and we are committed to getting creative about how we maximize the use of every log and thus the jobs we can support. For example we have a panel division that takes the short cuts off the ends and sides of lumber and mills them into small finger-jointed boards used by speciality manufacturers in the making of things like planter boxes, as well as unique products like bat boxes and bird house kits. The long, stringy cuts left from sawing cedar – called cedar hay – is baled and sold to landscaping companies for use on garden beds. One of our mills sells cedar hay to a company that treats and colours it and provides it to Disneyland to top their garden beds. The sawdust and chips left over from our work are sold on to pulp and paper mills that turn it into products we all use every day – toilet paper, school workbooks, medical masks, and more.
We have invested many millions of dollars to keep our mills on the cutting-edge of technology used to maximise value from every log we cut and ensure these by-products can be captured and used.
Teal Jones has always been committed to doing its part to help build BC and keep as many jobs here as possible, and remains as committed as ever to that work.