The next time Michael Combs watches Johnny Depp leap from a table or bash another buccaneer with a chair during hand-to-hand combat, he could be forgiven for wondering, “was that one of ours?”
Combs, the CEO of WynnWood, says one of the specialty products the company’s Wynndel mill produces is 1×3 inch lumber known as “Studio Select.” The lightweight lumber is mostly sold to Hollywood for use in movie sets, including Pirates of the Caribbean. It was also used in Sochi, Russia during the recent Winter Olympics. “They don’t need 2x4s because it’s all a facade, “ Combs says. “So they use our 1×3s Studio Select and construct temporary buildings. And when it’s all done they bulldoze it, recycle it, pull it down, do whatever they do and move on to the next movie set.”
Those Hollywood sets – and Olympic staging – may not be built to last, but they need a strong and reliable product for short intense use. That is just the type of specialization and innovation that’s helped WynnWood last a very long time indeed. In fact, the company – formerly Wynndel Box and Lumber – has celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013. “We are actually the oldest family-owned lumber mill in BC so we have very deep roots,” Combs says.
Deep roots in the community. A dedicated workforce. Specialization. Innovation. These are among the keys to survival during sometimes challenging economic times. WynnWood had begun upgrading its sawmill and moulder eight years ago. By concentrating on products such as appearance grade finished lumber, used in trim and furniture manufacturing, it was better positioned to ride out the downturn of the US housing market than mills that turned out dimensional lumber. WynnWood has been certified under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The fact WynnWood has been operating for generations in the same community also speaks for itself.
Sustainability means something else: a commitment to the community and the workforce. WynnWood employs more than 90 people directly and another 70 (such as loggers and truck drivers) indirectly, while also providing work for welding shops, heavy-duty mechanics and other businesses. CEO Michael Combs says the payroll alone is in the millions. Then there are the spinoffs: “We’re very involved not only in sponsoring events and causes but our people also give a lot of their time. We’re very visible in the community.”