Industry Veteran Helps to Turn Potential into a Reality at Northern Ontario Sawmill

Despite having ‘retired’ in 2005, Frank Dottori, the founder of Tembec Inc., continues to pursue opportunities in the forest products industry. His most recent as the CEO of White River Forest Products (WRFP) located in White River Ontario and WRC Timber — the mills parent company. The WRFP mill was shut down for seven years before WRC Timber bought the mill in 2013. As a result, “it wasn’t in particularly good shape,” Dottori says. But Dottori and WRC Timber saw potential in the mill, largely because of the nearby available fiber supply. WRFP has access to more than 500,000 cubic meters worth of SPF and aspen trees, located within 90 kilometers of the site. To bring the mill up to speed after lying dormant for seven years, the company has carried out multiple upgrades, part of a three-phase investment program. All told, WRC Timber has invested more than $20 million to modernize the mill. To run their operations, the mill employs approximately 160 people, working 100 hours per week. The mill currently produces SPF dimensional lumber and stud lumber, ranging from 2x3s to 2x6s, eight to 16 feet long. The mill also produces some wood chips and hog fuel and is looking at the possibility of producing hardwood aspen lumber. When it comes to markets, the mill is limited by its location. As a result, the majority of the products (60 per cent) are sold domestically in Ontario, while the remaining 40 per cent goes mostly to Michigan, in the U.S.

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Maximizing potential: industry veteran leads the charge to upgrade Ontario mill