I've been to China four times in the last couple of years and I've gone through a couple of dozen plants. I was expecting this is where we would send our low-grade lumber - for dicing, slicing and remanufacturing into high-quality table tops.
So I expected the first plant to be dirty and dark, but it was well-lit and tidy and had a good natural flow of production. Gee whiz, I thought, there is some decent plant engineering here. And the product out of those plants is of excellent quality.
It's not the North American image of China.
The North American stereotype is that they are just over there torturing their workers, and paying a pittance for raw materials and turning out low-quality product. If you want to believe that, you can. But if you do and you're in manufacturing, you are going to be history because that ain't the reality.
What you lose sleep over?
As long as I'm running, I can sleep soundly. But my major concern isn't just the lumber business - it's the global economy. I'm just hopeful we are going to have sensible leadership of all economies out there. It worries me about leadership in the U.S. right now and the direction it is going. You know, we lived through socialism in B.C. for 10 years. I know what it looks like and it is not pretty.
Title: President and CEO, Canfor Corp., Vancouver
Born: Vancouver, 71 years old
Education: Bachelor's degree, civil engineering, University of British Columbia
After university. worked as an engineer for Procter & Gamble and energy-technology giant Babcock & Wilcox.
Spent 32 years with Finning International Inc., including nine years as CEO.
Retired from Finning in 2000.
May, 2007: Left retirement to become Canfor's CEO.