For Kimberlee Gallagher, working at the Western Forest Products (WFP) Saltair Sawmill was like a breath of fresh air.
Gallagher spent about a month at the Saltair Sawmill in Ladysmith doing contract work as a fire watch, and she was impressed by the employees’ friendliness, positive attitudes and attention to safety.
Gallagher lives in Chase, and she and her boyfriend Brock Colliver both did contract work at the mill.
“I’ve gotten to know quite a few people on a first-name basis, and there are many smiles and exchanges of a ‘good morning’ everyday,” she said. “I’ve never worked somewhere where everyone works so positive, safe and in such a respectful manner. The energy here is warm and friendly. If I lived down here, I’d apply for a full-time position. I just feel in my heart that these wonderful people at this mill deserve some sort of recognition.”
Gallagher says she was the only female working there in a labour position, and she couldn’t have been treated any better.
“I cannot explain how polite, helpful and well-mannered these people are,” she said. “I usually work in the oilfield up north, and it’s a little rougher up there. It’s been a real treat here. These guys here are really down-to-earth, good people — upper management as well.”
Gallagher is enthusiastic about how safe and happy the employees at the WFP Saltair Sawmill are.
“No. 1 for me is safety and working with nice, friendly people,” she said. “I’ve never thought seriously of working full-time at a mill until I came here. They were happy at the start of their shift, and they were happy at the end.”
The Saltair Sawmill, built in 1972, converts coastal mid-size logs into high-value specialized products in hemlock, Douglas fir and Western red cedar and ships product to Japan, China, North America, Europe and Australia.
The mill is currently undergoing a major retrofit.
Initially, WFP announced a $24.2-million investment as the first phase of what will ultimately be a total reinvestment of about $38 million into the Saltair Sawmill. The first phase of the retrofit includes upgrades/replacements to the Edgers, Stacker, (including an inline strapper), Sorter, Trimmer and Chipper.
One of the first pieces of the puzzle was a new stacker, which is capable of stacking more than 250 loads in an eight-hour shift, explained project manager Terry Charlton.
The new inline strapper was completed in the past three weeks, and Gallagher and Colliver were in Ladysmith to see it take shape.