I would like to thank you guys for the opportunity to be a part of providing some solutions for secondary products in the forestry sector.
I'll tell you a little about myself. Since 1991, fresh out of high school, I was in the oil and gas industry as a seismic faller in line clearing. With the many ups and downs in the oil and gas industry, and the unhealthy workplace, I guess, and being away from home, I chose to diversify in 2012. Being on the tree end of things, I wanted to have the best tree company that I could before I bailed out of the industry. I attended a CanBio conference in Vancouver and got a few ideas and got started on my mission.
In the secondary supply chain steps in our company, we deal with urban wood now, more coming from the municipalities. We have a four-step approach. We remove, recycle, rebuild, and replant. With each step in this process of the tree, there are different products created. All of the products have various degrees of value and benefits, to the economy, the environment, and the bioenergy sector.
There are some pros and cons. When we did a tree removal before I started recycling, we would just take the tree down and get rid of it. That was a problem. In throwing it into the landfill or chipping it, there was little or no value to it. Once we started recycling it, the first step, and the easiest for most people, was to chip it, call it landfill cover or landscaping, water retention wood chips, but, again, with very little value. It can be used as biomass for wood chip boilers and such.
The next step that we took was to mill it. That had a moderate value, rough-cut lumber, undried stuff, used for fencing and building materials. It was still a bit unstable, so it presented its challenges.
Once we added our kiln, we found that was the level when it really took a jump. By kiln drying our lumber, this opened up a greater market. Anybody that wanted to build anything with it—houses, high-end furniture, anything from basically a pen to a cabin or a house—we had to get it to that level.
I didn't want to be only a supplier. I wanted to keep employees around all year, and add jobs. With basically controlling the raw product, we formed a supercluster with the businesses that I was selling it to. There are five of us working together. We have a timber frame company, a house-building company, a wood turner, and a custom CNC milling operation, and me, the tree guy.
We found that taking the raw product through all the steps was the best way to gain as many jobs as we could and obviously provide a varying degree of products and services.
Our last step, being the most crucial step that we do, is the replant. Working with municipalities in urban areas, we're not planting little seedlings. We use tree spades. We have a couple of different sizes of tree spades. It's urban reforestation and all the opportunities that the trees provide in the urban areas. There are some challenges and whatnot with urban forests being a quicker, I guess, takedown time. An urban forest typically lives for only a hundred years due to the strain of infrastructure and growth, so there is a good opportunity there for replanting our cities and urban areas.
Those are our four Rs in what we do in my company.
There are some challenges in urban logging and having a municipality take it back to the old way of doing things. We would clear a lot and instead of throwing it all away in the landfill we would do what grandpa used to do and build with it. It's a real challenge to convince the municipalities that this is good, stable wood, once it's kiln dried. We seem to order everything in from other countries. We throw our trees into the landfill and order building materials in. That's been our biggest challenge.
In the city of Red Deer, we're starting to make headway in building the products from the site back into the venue. The 2019 Winter Games are going to be in Red Deer. Just yesterday we used trees from one of our sites in the building that will house a skating oval. We have some projects we're pretty proud of.
There's a model that was done in Davis, California, called the Cannery. It sets a farm beside a neighbourhood, and the farm feeds the neighbourhood. Our approach is the same but with trees. We have a farm that recycles the lumber, and we build a neighbourhood beside it and then grow the food and the trees for the neighbourhood.
We also have a very cool education program we started called Sawing for Schools. We took a sawmill to the school. We cut up every kind of lumber or wood in our municipality and showed the students the processes and steps to getting it to a viable building material, and then we donated it back to the shop class. From there, we have started building unique cabins, live-edge Christmas trees, and other wood products with the students. We find that the education aspect of bringing it to the general public is very important, and we like to run it through the youth. We find they get good traction when you see a girl from grade 6 chainsaw carving at a home show. We're pretty proud of that.
That's what my company does.
I was listening to the comments of the other witnesses. Bioenergy is awesome, but if we extract everything we can for usable building materials out of the tree before we shred it, we can get a bit of bioenergy out of the wood, let it live for another couple of hundred years, and when that has to come out, we still have that biodiesel or bioenergy capability then. I like to use a tree to its fullest. We think this creates the most jobs and gives us the best value for our beautiful trees and forests. We can make products for export, but we can also keep our trees right here and make our neighbourhoods totally green.