Forestry company has deep roots at NAIT

Company with deep Alberta roots invests in future of forestry

Millar Western supports forestry students to stay on the cutting-edge

J.W. Millar, an Ontario entrepreneur, opened a blacksmith shop in 1906, in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. It wasn’t long before he saw opportunities even further west, and in the 1920s, established forestry operations in the Whitecourt area.

Today, Millar Western is among Alberta’s oldest – and most technologically advanced – forestry company, says Janet Millar, director of communications.

The company operates sawmills in Whitecourt and Fox Creek, a pulp mill, and a specialty wood products facility in Acheson. It also has rights to harvest forests in the Whitecourt area.

Millar Western has grown beyond it’s Alberta roots with approximately $375 million in business annually and exports pulp and lumber throughout North America and Asia.

“Education has always been top of mind for us.”

Since the beginning, Millar Western has always hired locally with an employee turnover rate below the industry standard. Many of their several hundred employees are NAIT graduates.

Millar Western hires NAIT students

NAIT’s Forest Technology program has produced many of Millar Western employees, says Brian McConkey, vice-president of human resources.

Millar Western

At least 50% of employees for its summer woodlands operations come from NAIT, and the company also hires graduates from the power engineering, biological sciences, instrumentation and apprenticeship programs.

“Education has always been top of mind for us,” adds Millar, pointing out the company’s long involvement with NAIT’s program advisory committees.

Millar Western is an early adopter of the latest technological advances, including the world’s first zero-effluent market pulp mill, which eliminates wastewater. The company is proud of these advancements – and in part credits it to its relationship with NAIT.

Millar Western donates to NAIT scholarships

Miller Western has expressed its continuing confidence in NAIT by donating to support scholarships, gift-in-kind equipment and the institution’s largest capital project to date, the Centre for Applied Technology.

“I think we need to continue to stay current on technological advancements.”

“I think we need to continue to stay current on technological advancements,” says McConkey, and so that’s why the partnership with NAIT is so important. The two-way communication between the company and the polytechnic continues to inform and guide the educational programming—and the future of the forestry industry.

Published on March 28, 2018