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Irving sawmill thanks log suppliers
In the top photos, log suppliers look on as Irving Forest Products owner James Irving and mill manager Susan Coulombe draw numbers for door prizes. In the bottom photos, log suppliers and their family members enjoyed a lunch prepared by employees at the mill. (Times photos by Bruce Farrin)
DIXFIELD -- Under brightening skies Thursday, the Irving Forest Products sawmill held its Log Suppliers Open House, the 15th annual event to show their appreciation to those who supply the mill with logs.
Jay Wheeler, the procurement forester at the sawmill, said they take their log suppliers on a tour through the mill where they get to see how the wood they provide gets turned into boards. Following the tour of the sawmill, he said log suppliers met for a lunch cooked by employees at the mill.
Flying in from the head office in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada to express their gratitude for the work log suppliers do for Irving were Irving Forest Products owner James Irving, woodland's vice president Bob Pinette and sawmill vice president Gaston Poitras.
Irving noted, "When we bought the mill 15 years ago, we weren't sure what we were getting into. The mill was a bit of a problem. Management wasn't really up to speed to get it going and we had a lot of difficulties. But through Susan's (Coulombe) leadership and the rest of the management team, and everybody else, I'd like to thank you for all your hard work, because it doesn't happen without hard work. It doesn't happen without leadership and energy."
"We bought the mill without owning an acre of land. We were concerned about where we were going to get a good supply of logs and was it going to work? They said there's lots of logs here. We didn't know how it was going to turn out; we didn't know the country down here. But you've been great suppliers and we appreciate that. And that's allowed us to build a market with Home Depot. Our reputation is quality, service, on time and we delivery what we say we're going to do. And we couldn't do it without you folks."
Coulombe added, "As Mr. Irving said, it's been a tough go. There's 230 people in the mill. We've got 300 suppliers. It takes a lot of people to make this happen."
Poitras said, "Thanks to you all because we're in the lumber business, we need the logs. And we want to thank you here because the last four or five years in the lumber business has been very, very difficult. But overall, we've withstood it, we stuck to it and thanks to you and a steady supply of logs, we're able to weather the storm."
Pinette said, "The idea that you are steady suppliers and partners in the wood supply is important to us in the same that we're partners with our customers the likes of Home Depot and others. We want to be loyal to you and we sure appreciate your loyalty in delivering the logs to the mill. It makes a big difference if we can depend on other partners."
Wheeler said, "Since Irving Forest Products acquired this mill in late 1998, there’s been no question that a strong group of suppliers would be key to its success. On April 30, 1999, we held our first Open House to show appreciation to the loggers who kept the mill with logs for the first few months and 150-plus attended and there was no doubt they liked seeing how their logs were processed and we realized that understanding helped them make a better product for us."
"The teamwork has continued and strengthened ever since and the Log Suppliers Appreciation Day has taken place every year, with 280 attending in the pouring rain last year. We love to show off how far we’ve come since the first event in ’99. Irving Forest Products in Dixfield wouldn’t be the biggest in Eastern White Pine without the loyalty of our loggers, mostly from Maine, who supply us with wood," he noted.