Harmac Pacific in Nanaimo loads a shipment of pulp Monday night that will be used to make critical medical supplies in the fight against COVID-19. (Photo submitted)

Harmac Pacific in Nanaimo loads a shipment of pulp Monday night that will be used to make critical medical supplies in the fight against COVID-19. (Photo submitted)

‘It’s job No. 1 right now’: B.C.’s Harmac Pacific providing pulp for critical medical supplies

Bryan Reid Sr. of Williams Lake said they received a call of thanks from Canada’s Chrystia Freeland

The owners and employees of Harmac Pacific on Vancouver Island are playing a critical role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with its special Western red cedar pulp used to produce medical supplies.

“If you see a blue gown in a health facility, it came from us,” said Bryan Reid Sr. of Williams Lake, who is one of the owners of Harmac Pacific.

“Our production right now at Harmac is around the clock, 24 hours a day, 300-plus workers … I think (the employees) are proud of what they’re doing. I know I’m proud of what they’re doing.”

Reid isn’t the only one to recognize the significance of the company’s efforts. Earlier this week, Harmac’s president Levi Sampson took a call of thanks from Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs for Canada.

“She was impressed,” Reid said of the call from Freeland, who expressed gratitude for their work which helps supply product for all of North America.

“That is quite an acknowledgment.”

Reid said Harmac Pacific received a request two weeks ago to double their order of pulp from the company that uses their special recipe to make medical grade masks and garments. He said they are expecting another call any day to triple it.

“There are people at the mill, employees that are concerned about their mom and dad (and not able to see them because of COVID-19) … but everybody is staying there to produce this pulp,” Reid said from his Pioneer Log Homes office in Williams Lake Monday.

“It’s job No. 1 right now. It’s the most important job in the world to us to produce this product so the end user can get these masks and gowns.”

Read more: Canada to spend $2B more on procuring medical supplies for COVID-19 fight

The historic Harmac Pacific pulp mill was built by HR MacMillan in 1951.

Facing closure in 2008, the company was saved by a group of private Canadian investors for $30 million which included Reid, his brothers André and David, son Bryan Jr., Reid’s cousins Frank and Mike, of FMI, and a handful of other investors such as Harmac president Levi Sampson and his father, Ed Sampson. As well, the deal saw mill employees buy a significant share of the company to secure everybody’s future.

“It was a very big decision for them, and it was a very, very big decision for us,” Reid said of the purchase.

“After we met some of the employees over the months (in 2008), you know they seemed just like Pioneer people. They wanted to work. They wanted to do what they do best. Make pulp, run a mill.

“It’s been very satisfying too because it keeps 300 people working. Not off shore, but right here in North America. The only people looking at it (to buy in 2008) were going to part it out and take it to Asia.”

The Harmac mill produces high quality kraft pulps made from custom blends of Douglas-fir, western hemlock, balsam fir, interior SPF and Western red cedar. The pulp is sold in Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.

The pulp being used for the medical garments is solely made of Western red cedar sourced from Alaska, B.C., Washington state and Oregon, identifiable with its long fibres.

Located on a deep water port just outside of Nanaimo, the mill is well-suited for cost effective export of pulp and receipt of raw materials such as the wood fiber.

When asked if he ever would have thought Harmac Pacific would play a critical role in fighting a global pandemic Reid said, no, not a pandemic, but yes in terms of manufacturing.

“We’ve imagined that we would play a role in keeping manufacturing in North America, but I think now is when it counts. (When we considered buying Harmac) we didn’t want the jobs to go to Asia. We wanted them to stay right here in B.C. You know, those are good paying jobs. Those are jobs where people can buy a new car, send their kids to college … it’s some of the highest paid tradesmen in British Columbia,” Reid said, noting the COVID-19 pandemic is an example of why countries such as Canada and the U.S. have to keep their manufacturing at home.

“I think it’s going to teach us all what we did at Harmac, to try and keep some manufacturing in North America and when it becomes a crisis you know you can only count on you own backyard. What are we going to wait for a ship to come from China with our Tylenol? I mean, that’s terrible. What if they don’t get out of port or what if they all get a disease .. it’s too fragile. The supply chain is too fragile. We have to keep it here and keep these good paying jobs.

“It’s a hard way to learn it but it is the way it is.”

Read more: Pioneer Log Homes Cedar Rocket rolls onto auction block

“In North America we’re capable of anything. We can build the best log homes in the world. We can build the best pulp in the world. We can do everything the best, so why do we have to farm everything out.”

“If you want to buy nick-nacks from China that’s fine, but the nuts and bolts of life, we better keep it here.”

Reid, who is also recognized from his time on the HGTV show Timber Kings, is one of six who sits on the board of directors for Harmac, guiding them through business decisions.

The COVID-19 pandemic is like nothing we’ve ever seen in our lifetimes, he said.

“History is being written as we speak,” Reid said. “We’re writing the manual.”

Reid also stressed how proud he is of the staff at Harmac “from the janitors to the tradesmen, to the management — the whole group.”


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
editor@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirusforestry

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Bryan Reid Sr. of Pioneer Log Homes holds a picture of Harmac Pacific pulp mill. Reid is one of the owners in the company which is playing a significant role in supplying Western red cedar pulp to a company that makes medical supplies.(Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Bryan Reid Sr. of Pioneer Log Homes holds a picture of Harmac Pacific pulp mill. Reid is one of the owners in the company which is playing a significant role in supplying Western red cedar pulp to a company that makes medical supplies.(Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

Just Posted

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

The BC Wildfire Service is urging caution amid forecasts of strong winds throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre. (BC Wildfire Service photo)
Strong winds forecasted for Kamloops Fire Centre, BC Wildfire service urges caution

“Wind can cause grass fires to spread very quickly,” says the BC Wildfire Service

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

The freed osprey keeps a wary eye on its rescuers after being deposited on its nest. (Photo credit: Greg Hiltz)
Hydro crew in Ashcroft gets osprey rescue call-out they won’t soon forget

Bird was tangled in baling wire hanging from a hydro pole, necessitating a tricky rescue

Hesco baskets were first used outside the Cache Creek fire hall in 2020 (pictured), and have once again been put in place as a pre-emptive measure to safeguard the hall against possible flooding. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)
Cache Creek taking pre-emptive measures to prevent flooding

Sand and sandbags will soon be available for all residents who need them

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Most Read