New mill bringing new jobs

Colton Davies

A South Okanagan manufacturer is preparing to open a new mill in OK Falls next month.

Structurlam will be opening a new 35,000-square-foot facility in the town's industrial park on Oct. 15th. It will employ 20 people to begin and is expected to employ about 20 more once fully operational.

The company already has a 105,000-square-foot facility in the OK Falls industrial park and has plants in Penticton and Oliver as well.

Structurlam engineers mass timber wood which is then sold to builders. The product is in growing demand, as staff say it’s a better way to build.

"In terms of environment, in terms of speed of construction, in terms of quality and in terms of cost, it really has very compelling reasons to adopt these products into construction applications," Structurlam chief executive officer Hardy Wentzel said.

"A lot of the trees are coming from the Interior of B.C., they're being processed by sawmills that are local to B.C. and then that lumber comes to Structurlam and we convert it one more time into these engineered wood products.

"I think with the amount of jobs we're creating and with all the economy that drives off of what we do... I think there should be a lot of pride."

Structurlam has provided mass timber for dozens of buildings in western North America. Among those, the Microsoft Campus in California, and the 18-storey UBC Brock Commons student housing building in Vancouver — the tallest wood building in North America.

Closer to home, one of their bigger projects done recently was the west wing of the Penticton Lakeside Resort.

"We're having this — I would say — renaissance in the industry, of finding alternative materials to concrete and steel and now using mass timber in their places," Wentzel said.

The company still needs to hire about 16 people for next month, and Wentzel said the openings are well-paying union jobs with benefits.

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