Wood manufacturing sector says more can be done to boost industry

New Brunswick manufacturers need to think creatively about how they use wood in order to boost the sector and keep more money in the province, according to some industry officials.

UNB's Ying Chui says he wants the wood manufacturing sector to look beyond traditional residential sector

A conference under way in Moncton on Tuesday will look at ways to boost the lumber manufacturing industry.

New Brunswick manufacturers need to think creatively about how they use wood in order to boost the sector and keep more money in the province, according to some industry officials.

A wood manufacturing conference is being held in Moncton on Tuesday to bring members of government and the industry together to talk about ways to encourage the wood manufacturing sector to expand.

Ying Chui, the director of the University of New Brunswick's Wood Science and Technology Centre in Fredericton, organized the conference hoping to shed light on value-added products in the wood manufacturing industry.

"There's a lot of opportunity for new wood product to be produced in Atlantic Canada," said Chiu.

The conference is called Looking Ahead — Opportunities in Value Added Wood.

Chui said he wants manufacturers to look at creating larger beams and columns out of low-grade wood that is normally shipped out of province.

"This lumber can be further processed into larger beams that are glued together to form larger pieces, that's why they can be used in bigger buildings and structures," he said.

"We want the industry to look beyond the traditional residential construction."

As building codes change, Chui said more large structures can be made out of locally-sourced wood, rather than imported concrete and steel.

"For example they could be soccer stadiums they could be bridges, and so on," Chiu said.

Paul Sibley, the president and chief executive officer of MP Atlantic Wood Ltd. in Dieppe, is working to open a value-added finger joint plant to his company. Attendees will get a chance to tour his facility during the conference.  

"There's a void in our market place that needs to be filled," said Sibley.

His new plant will take low-value wood and manufacture it here into bigger lumber he hopes will be used for large buildings.

"A plant ... could take advantage of a lower value product and add an economic benefit to it and keep the jobs here. It's a thriving industry," he said.

Sibley said the U.S. housing market crash was hard on his business and since then he's diversified his markets to include the Middle East.

He said he is hoping architects and engineers will get on board.

"It's easy to just pick a piece of steel off a shelf, or spec something made out of concrete, when you're building a new structure," Sibleys aisd.

"But if you want to really help out the environment and educate people, you need to try to go back towards using some wood products in those areas."

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