12 mass timber businesses shaking up Canadian construction

These companies are on the cutting edge of Canadian mass timber.

Crews create mass Timber products in Castlegar, B.C.

Crews fabricate mass timber products in B.C. for Kalesnikoff Lumber. – Province of B.C.

Mass timber building is on the rise in Canada.

Canada’s national building code now approves laminated wood-beam buildings of up to 12 storeys, expanding what can be done with the technology.

In B.C. the province has staked its claim as an havan for mass timber construction. Earlier this year officials launched the Mass Timber Action Plan by announcing funding for four new mass-timber housing and infrastructure projects. 

The province believes it could have as many as 10 new mass-timber manufacturers by 2035. Officials anticipate that boosting the sector’s skills training through trades programs at post-secondary institutions could help fill an anticipated 4,400 additional job openings in manufacturing, construction and design. 

Here are a few companies that are already leading the charge in Canada to boost the mass timber sector: 

1. Adera Developments 

Adera Developments, a multidisciplinary real estate company, has wood in its veins. They were an early adopter of mass timber construction, developing their own proprietary mass timber materials and systems like Quiet Home and SmartWood. They also have a stake in the materials. They are a shareholder in Structurlam, a mass timber product manufacturer based in Penticton which also makes an appearance on this list. Adera recently announced the first SmartWood mass timber community in Surrey Central’s West Village. What’s SmartWood? According to Adera, the proprietary technology is an entirely new class of building material competitively as strong as concrete and steel, yet at a price point that falls between light wood frame and concrete.

2. Seagate

Seagate does it all: Design, installation, prefabrication and procurement. They also are working with the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) on developing and delivering two micro-credential courses on working with mass timber. They worked on the iconic 18-storey mass timber building Brock Commons which was was built in just 47 days with 464 cross laminated timber (CLT) panels supported by 1,302 glulam columns.

3. Structurlam

Structurlam is a leading manufacturer of mass timber products including CLT, Glulam beams, industrial matting and more. In addition to working on major Canadian projects, like Brock Commons, Structurelam has branched out. They worked on Carbon12 in Portland, the tallest CLT structure in the U.S. While they have been based in Penticton, B.C. since 1962, the company recently spent $90 million to buy, renovate and equip a former steel plant in Arkansas where it is expanding its U.S. operations.

4. Nordic Structures

The Montreal-based CLT producer has worked on many projects in the U.S. and Canada, including Canadian Nuclear Labratories, Plate 15, Paul Mercier Library and more. Since 1961, Nordic has been using trees to make construction materials at its industrial complex in Chibougamau.

5. Element5 Co. 

Element5 designs, fabricates and builds custom mass timber buildings. They believe mass timber construction is a revolution set to take the industry by storm. Some of their projects include Sohac – Nshwaasnangong Childcare and Family Centre, WLU Indigenous Centre and the Port Stanley Fire Hall.

“As the world rapidly approaches 9 billion people – three times what it was in less than a single lifetime – our fragile planet is desperate for sustainable alternative,” says the company on their website. “The unifying vision of the those who drive the revolution, Element5 among them, see timber as the essential building material of the 21st century.”

6. Western Archrib 

Western Archrib has been in the game a long time. The company first started designing, manufacturing, and custom fabricating glued-laminated structural wood systems back in 1951.  Archrib’s product line includes the manufacture of douglas fir glulam, spruce pine glulam, and Alaskan yellow cedar glulam into beams, columns, and mass timber panels. Some projects they currently are working on include the Robert G. Kuhn Building at Trinity Western University, a community hub for Peepeepkisis Cree Nation and Frog Lake First Nation Jr./Sr. High School. 

7. StructureCraft

If you want a mass timber project built, they have the brains to do it. StructureCraft calls its primary delivery method “engineer-build” because of the close link between engineering and building have in their process. The Abbotsford, B.C.-based company states that this draws on the historical model of “master-builder” where engineers take a more active role in building the structures they engineer. 

“This is especially important in the field of timber construction, where the structure is featured and exposed,” reads the company’s website. 

Some notable projects include the Soto office building in Texas, the DC Public Library in Washington, D.C., and the Canada Earth Tower in Vancouver. 

8. Spearhead Timberworks

Spearhead’s manufacturing facility sits on the west arm of Kootenay Lake in the Southern Interior of British Columbia. The 30,000 sq.ft. facility houses full-service millwork and timberframe shops featuring CNC manufacturing and timber milling equipment along with design and administration offices. They use BIM software to create fabrication-level digital models which directly interface their CNC machinery. Some notable projects include the Aspen Art Museum, Grand Teton National Park Discovery and Visitor Center in Wyoming and the Strings Music Pavilion in Colorado. 

9. Kalesnikoff Mass Timber

One of the oldest on this list, the Kalesnikoff company history goes back to just after the first World War. In 1922, Kalesnikoffs first moved to the West Kootenays as Russian immigrants to join a communal Doukhobour settlement called Champion Creek. According to the family-owned company, Koozma Kalesnikoff’s parents and his brothers, Sam and Peter, arrived with dreams of peace and prosperity. After getting Timber rights for land near Castlegar, B.C. they operated with a guiding principle: “Take care of the Land and the Land will take care of you.” 

They claim to have North America’s most advanced, vertically-integrated, multi-species mass timber facility. The 110,000 square foot plant makes CLT, glue-laminated timber panels and glulam beams.

10. Brisco Manufacturing

Brisco is relatively new to the scene. The company opened up shop in 2002 to become a specialty producer of large beams manufactured from laminated veneer lumber (LVL).

The company says that Aat that time, LVL beams were primarily used in hidden, interior residential and commercial construction applications. Since then, their team has been working with architects, engineers and general contractors to incorporate the new Brisco Fine Line products into a multitude of new exposed applications. Some of Brisco’s projects include Vancouver’s Joyce-Collingwood Skytrain Station, Qualicum Beach Fire Hall on Vancouver Island and Northern Lights College in Dawson, B.C.

11. Fraserwood Industries

One of the first things international travellers see when they arrive in Vancouver is work from Fraserwood. The company participated in YVR’s Pier D project – the airport’s largest project since the mid 1990s. Fraserwood was started in 1998 and has gone on to become a major player in the mass timber manufacturing and building sector. The company landed its first major commercial project, the Sea to Sky Gondola service buildings and restaurant, in 2014. Since then they have worked on the Crested Butte Center for the Arts, Squamish’s O’Siem and even provided timber for famed architect Frank Gehry’s personal residence.

12. BC Passive House

Their name kind of says it all. BC Passive House is a B.C.-based full-service prefabrication company specializing in the design and construction of high-performance panelized building systems, specialized structural panels, heavy timber packages and a range of hybrid systems. The company was founded and is managed by Matheo Dürfeld, a general contractor with 40 years of construction experience in the province, and Eric Karsh a founding principal of Equilibrium Consulting Inc., an award-winning structural engineering firm based in Vancouver. 

“Energy efficient and sustainable construction practice is a key component of our identity, we make material selection and informed building science a priority for all our projects,” says the company on its website. 


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