Balancing business and nature

In a series of conversations with workers and business operators, The Province and Resource Works explore the contributions that trade, industry, and natural resources make to the BC economy. This week, we talk with Alan Chen, sales manager for Long Hoh Enterprises Canada, a small  lumber manufacturer serving a unique niche market


Postmedia News: Long Hoh markets itself as a small manufacturer of forest products focusing on quality and sustainability. How did you get started?

Alan Chen: In the beginning, some immigrant families came here to try to continue their expertise in wood processing and making building components. They acquired land (at Qualicum Beach) and built from scratch. In 1997, the sawmill opened for business. They chose the location because of its proximity to the required resources, which are the logs.

People in B.C. take pride in their natural resources, and value their trees. With help of government and community we have a set of regulations and guidelines governing our practice. People are getting more and more cautious about where they are getting their wood. I believe the owners had great vision. 

PM: Could you talk about the specialty products your clients require?

AC: Our core business is to supply temple components, especially to Japan. Shinto temples hold sacred objects, statues or artifacts passed down from generation to generation, and people can go worship or pray. The wood was once a living thing, so it’s easy for the spirits in these temples to accentuate each other. 

Because Japan historically had an abundant lumber resource, it’s very natural that they chose wood as the material to build the temples. They try to build without any nails. Our job is to map out our logs and cut exactly what they want. We try not to make too much waste in doing so.

PM: I’m guessing that when you have an order to fill, you have to have it into a container and out of the yard (and then onto a ship) on a pretty tight set of deadlines?

AC: Once we cut the trees into lumber — and dry it — we bring in the container trucks, load the containers on-site. Then they’re transported over to the Vancouver area and loaded onto vessels.

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