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Gorman takes over top job at COFI
One might think it strange that the new guy heading up the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) doesn’t have a background in the forest industry.
However, might be exactly what the organization representing interior forest companies needs.
“We really wanted a new set of eyes,” said COFI chair Nick Arkle in introducing new James Gorman as the new president and chief executive officer of the organization. He succeeds John Allan in the role.
Gorman brings extensive public policy and senior management experience to the position. Most recently he was deputy minister of Advanced Education and prior to that as Deputy of Education (K-12), where he toiled for Shirley Bond when she was education minister, and the BC Public Service Agency. Gorman has a master’s degree in political science from McGill University and a bachelors degree from the University of British Columbia.
“We wanted someone who has dealt with complex issues,” said Arkle. “We saw that in James. It’s important to have someone who can get out in front of issues, not just react.”
As for Gorman, he’s obviously looking forward to his new job.
“It’s a privilege to take on the role,” he said. “The industry is still the backbone of the province … It’s recovering at a steady rate. It’s an exciting industry going through some remarkable transformation at the moment.”
Some of those issues, however, will be familiar … the softwood lumber agreement is percolating in the not-to-distant future, the pine beetle and resultant short- and mid-term timber supply issues, timber pricing and more will all be on Gorman’s plate.
“It is so much about making the industry successful,” he said. “Government understands and recognizes how important this is to the communities across British Columbia. I think government is also looking for ways that it can strengthen the industry and, in doing so, strengthen the communities where the forest industry resides.”
His experience in government, he hopes, will help bridge gaps between the industry and government. He has already starting meeting with COFI members, government officials and will be meeting with local stakeholders.
One of the key areas that COFI will be addressing over the next while are effect of the mountain pine beetle and the resultant issues.
“The short- and mid-term timber supply issues and how you mitigate the impact of reductions on annual allowable cuts is something we will be spending a lot of time on,” said Arkle.
Another issue that is an issue around the industry is timber pricing.
“Does the system function as it should,” Arkle said.
Diversification of markets is also a key issue for the industry. With the recent downturn in the U.S. market, the B.C. forest industry benefited by being able to sell into China.
“We’re never going to walk away from the American market,” Arkle said. “However, diversification is key. It’s nice to have other markets for your product.”