Wood buyers from Japan and Korea toured the Structurlam plant in Okanagan Falls looking for an innovative solution for construction projections in their respective countries.
Bill Downing, president of Structurlam Products in Penticton, said there has been a growing interest in constructing larger buildings fashioned from wood.
“Structurlam is at the forefront of that,” he said. “We’ve already built some of the largest buildings in the world and now we’re currently building the seven-storey, Wood Innovation and Design Centre in Prince George — so that one will be the tallest in western North America, I believe.”
Downing said Structurlam is well-positioned in this form of construction with its glue-laminated and cross-laminated products, allowing wood to be used in place of steel and concrete.
“We can essentially pre-fabricate a building here in Penticton and ship it anywhere in the world,” he said, noting that the tour of its plant is an indicator the two countries are interested in investing in wood-constructed buildings, due to the fact wood is a sustainable and renewable material.
Downing pointed to another upcoming project in B.C. for Structurlam, a 50-metre high building at the University of British Columbia, which is equivalent to about 15 storeys.
“There’s lots of interesting stuff going on and that’s not just in Canada,” he said. “That phenomenon is kind of happening around the world. There seems to be a bit of a race going on to see who can build the tallest I guess, and I love it.”
Downing said the meeting with the wood buyers came about as a result of the Global Buyers Mission which is happening Sept. 4 to 6 in Whister, B.C. The event brings together wood products manufacturers interested in growing their export market opportunities and developing new business relationships.
“A lot of buyers are coming from overseas to meet with our producers here in British Columbia,” he said. “As a part of them coming over here, B.C. Wood puts on these tours so they can take advantage of the buyers coming over and get them out to actually visit some plants.”
Although the company might not be inking any deals immediately, Downing noted the importance of developing relationships with buyers by presenting the technology and expertise Structurlam can offer.
“So really, we’re sowing seeds here for future sales.”