Submitted by ILMA
The organization representing family-owned small and mid-sized forest products companies in the interior has a new president.
The Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association (ILMA) has hired former Ministry of Forests executive Paul Rasmussen to lead the group, following the retirement of Dan Battistella.
Rasmussen, who previously served as an Assistant Deputy Minister (south area operations) in the Ministry of Forests, has a long background in the forest sector.
“My whole career has been in the Kootenays and Southern Interior of BC, so I’ve got a deep understanding of the issues and opportunities in the ILMA region,” he explained in a Nov. 1 media release.
The ILMA membership includes 13 members, ranging from small sawmills, to Community Forest Corporations, to larger value-added operations. In the vicinity of Trail area, ILMA members include ATCO Wood Products in Fruitvale, and Porcupine Wood Products, in Salmo.
More than 75 associate members in related service and supply industries are also part of the organization.
“The ILMA members have a different relationship with their communities,” Rasmussen said. “They’re family-owned, multi-generational, and deeply rooted. The business isn’t just a business to them; it’s a sustainable way of life that can’t be packed-up and moved to new locale when times are tough.”
Rasmussen describes himself as “a different kind of government guy.”
“I understand the legislative and technical parts of the business, but what I’m really passionate about is the connection between industry and community. I’ve got a rural development perspective that is a natural fit for the ILMA membership, and for the southern interior region.”
Ken Kalesnikoff, chair of the ILMA board of directors, said that Rasmussen will help the organization grow in new directions.
“Even though the ILMA is small, it’s dynamic and complex,” said Kalesnikoff. “Paul is the right fit for us at this time, as he can put more emphasis on explaining and expanding our connections with our communities.”
First Nations partnerships will be a big part of that future, Rasmussen said.
“We’ve already seen some great examples from members like Vaagen Fibre Canada when it comes to partnerships with local First Nations,” he explained. “Reconciliation is about more than just recognition. It requires action, meaningful dialogue, and a true partnership, and I think there’s great opportunity across the southern interior to do more of that work.”
Rasmussen is also a fit for the ILMA because of his passion for the “mom-and-pop” kind of operations that are a hallmark of members and associate members.
“Smaller, family-owned and operated businesses just have a different view of the world, and I love working with them because of their passion, creativity, and resilience,” he said. “It really is a unique business model when compared to some of the major multinational corporations in this industry, and I want to help those smaller, independent companies compete and succeed.”
Outgoing president Dan Battistella will keep a hand in the work of the ILMA, through the transition, and then to a focus on specific projects that still need to be completed on behalf of, and with, members.
“I’m an advocate of deploying an organization’s strengths to where they can do the most good,” said Rasmussen. “Dan has a lot of industry experience that we want to utilize where we can in the future.”
Kalesnikoff echoed those sentiments, saying that renewing efforts with communities while still working on the technical pieces means that the organization can continue to help its members grow and prosper.
“Our motto in the ILMA is ‘get the right log to the right mill’, and doing that requires a blend of work in the communities, as well as ‘behind the scenes’ work on legislation and policies.” Kalesnikoff stated. “Having Paul as the President guiding the overall organization, while retaining Dan’s expertise, means we’ve got a bright future.”