Sustainable forest products in New Brunswick: A Q&A with JMN Enterprises

In our Atlantic Canadian Clean Economy Case Study Series, we’re talking to business leaders to learn more about the drivers, benefits and challenges that they’ve encountered while adopting sustainable innovation and operations, and sharing lessons in the transition towards a clean economy.

JMN Enterprises, based in northwestern New Brunswick, manufactures value-added wood products for retail, wholesale and industrial markets.

Founded in 1998, in recent years the company has turned its focus to sustainably sourced wood, such as using Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) certified suppliers or using reclaimed and salvaged wood. The company also gained its Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification in 2020.

“Forest products are by nature renewable, but we owe it to our industry and our community to make sure that our practices are as well,” says Daniel Beauregard-Long, VP Sales & Marketing at JMN Enterprises.

Let’s dive into our interview with Daniel:

How has growing demand for more sustainable products and the clean economy impacted your business and its competitiveness?

The growing demand for more sustainable products is validation that we’re doing the right things. We’ve seen this trend gaining in importance over the past six years quite substantially.

Our focus on sustainability has given us access to new markets. For example, we became FSC certified in 2020 and that has allowed us to increase our exports, as some markets require it. We have buyers that now have sustainability pre-requirements in terms of doing business with them and others that are trying to buy a certain percentage of their mix from sustainable sources. 

What prompted you to consider lower-carbon and sustainable innovation for your business?

We transitioned from being mostly a service or outsourcing company to developing our own product lines in 2014. As we made that transition, we had to define who we were, how we were going to do this and how we wanted JMN to be represented in the market. We chose to make a long-term commitment towards the sustainability of our industry, which is critical. Forest products are by nature renewable, but we owe it to our industry and our community to make sure that our practices are as well.

What benefits has your business gained so far?

The main benefits have been getting access to new markets, which has allowed us to continue our growth. In addition, being a company that people look forward to working for has helped with recruitment. 

It’s also helped us find new partners who share our values. We all have our business goals, but at the same time when you can find someone who has similar values in terms of sustainability, in terms of the long-term future of our industry, that helps quite a bit. In northwestern New Brunswick, the value-added wood product cluster is a very tight-knit group and our positioning has helped us grow in that cluster with our regional partners.

What challenges have you encountered while developing or transitioning your products and operations?

In some aspects there were knowledge gaps. We relied on external advice, for example with gaining FSC certification, and we relied on external consultants to help us develop our initial structure. We’ve also benefited from our regional partners in the wood product cluster in terms of best practices and getting access to knowledge of sustainable best practices and so on.

What advice can you offer to fellow Atlantic Canadian companies interested in transitioning to more sustainable products and operations?

First, engage your team and have that conversation of how you can improve your operations. We generated a lot of ideas internally in terms of our continuous improvement. Second, talk to your network and external partners to help with getting access to information. These were key for us.

What are some remaining policy obstacles that your industry faces in transitioning towards the clean economy?

A lot of industries are going to have to adapt to policy changes from the federal government. I think that investment tax credits that help investment in technologies or equipment that improve sustainability should be a priority for governments.

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