Voices of Vaagen: Kristin Svendsen, Log Yard Supervisor
At Vaagen Fibre Canada, we are proud of all the team members who dedicate their time to sustainable forestry, helping us build strong partnerships in the community that lead to remarkable projects. Today, we are amplifying the voice of Kristin Svendsen, Log Yard Supervisor at Vaagen Fibre Canada (Vaagen).
Logging runs in Kristin’s family - her grandfather was a logger back in the 50s. While that alone was not a deciding factor for her to work in the industry, being outdoors instead of behind a desk all day for work had her to pursue a career in forestry. Upon graduation, Kristin spent 20 years in the automotive industry before getting into forestry, a move she’s been happy to make.
“When I initially applied for the job at Vaagen, it was more of an administrative role, and because it was a fairly new company when I started, many of us had numerous roles,” noted Kristin. “I was hired on for log quality, but I also took on an active role monitoring safety in the Log Yard and with truck drivers.”
In her role today, Kristin visits active logging sites and uses an education-based approach to her work. She believes in sustainability, a value that aligns with Vaagen. According to Kristin, if issues can be addressed at the landing where the logs are processed, then there will be less defective logs sent to the yard and less waste created on site, making the process much more sustainable.
She also monitors quality once a log lands in the yard.
“I keep an eye on the trucks as they come in and work with information from our scaling contractor, to address concerns,” said Kristin. “I rely heavily on the team of experienced equipment operators I work with in the yard, those who unload the trucks and see every log that comes in, to communicate any quality observations they find so I can address issues with our suppliers.”
Kristin has also worked with the forestry team to develop tools they can use to help monitor log quality on their site visits.
In addition to this, Kristin oversees a team of six experienced equipment operators who unload and reload logging trucks, sort, and deck logs, keep a constant supply of fibre going into the mill and manage the by-products produced.
“I feel very fortunate to work with a diverse group of workers who not only take pride in what they do and how they do it, but who work hard to ensure we have a safe and efficient log yard,” noted Kristin. “I’m grateful every day to have a team that works together like this group does.”
Kristin has been a member of the mill site’s Joint Health & Safety Committee for the past five years and is one of the site’s First Aid Attendants.
Working at Vaagen doesn’t just allow Kristin the opportunity for personal and professional growth in an industry she is passionate about, but she is also able to balance this with her family life.
“As a single mother co-raising two children, working for Vaagen has allowed me to learn new skills and further develop my career path while allowing me the flexibility to ensure my family remained a top priority. My son suffered a life-altering illness five years ago, and the support and care from both our corporate team and my Vaagen work family, was an instrumental part of the beginning of his road to recovery. This speaks to the family values that underly the success of the company as a whole and makes me very proud to be part of the team,” said Kristin.
For Kristin, it is important to not just learn and grow, but help others grow along with her. Vaagen’s commitment to education and enhancing their practices allows Kristin to help others learn and grow too, in their careers and knowledge.
“I have spent a lot of time in the mill through the years, learning about the processes, to gain a better understanding of the type of log that our saw requires to produce high quality lumber,” remarked Kristin. “As a result, I often will take our logging contractors, visitors, and school groups on tours of the mill. I love sharing my knowledge and experience with others whether for their interest, or to help educate.”
“Taking students on tours is always fun. Regardless of the age-group, it makes me smile to know that I was able to show them something new or open their eyes to the importance of the forest industry in British Columbia and in our rural communities.”
Kristin Svendsen is a Log Yard Supervisor and in charge of Log Quality Control with Vaagen Fibre Canada. She graduated from BCIT in the Renewable Resource program with an added year of Forestry. She has also completed Selkirk College Interior Log Scaling course and received her Scaling Licence in 2014. Kristin holds BC Forest Safety Council certificates for Incident Investigations, Small Employer OHS, and Joint Health & Safety Committee, and has held a Level 3 Occupational First Aid licence for 6 years.