THUNDER BAY – Andreas Petersen knows how important it is to be adaptive when conducting business in the forestry industry.
After weathering the ups and downs of the industry for the past 25 years, the co-owner of Murillo Millworks is getting help from the province.
The company was one of five area businesses to receive a total of nearly $485,000 in grant funding through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.
“Do you go out and get the business first without having the infrastructure to support the business or do you have the infrastructure in place and then go get the business,” Petersen said at the funding announcement, which was held at their mill on Friday morning.
“It’s very important to have these types of programs to get the ball rolling. Now the infrastructure is in place, we can go out and get the sales and run it from that point.”
Murillo Millworks is receiving $175,000 which will allow the company to upgrade and expand their mill, as well as install a heat chamber to treat packaging products.
Petersen said the company had previously relied on manufacturing pallets and crates, but they’re not cost efficient to ship.
The global market, which Murillo Millworks utilized in selling products overseas, has also dried up.
It’s time to look at other niche options.
“We looked at it and said there are opportunities in unique or specialty markets that can keep us going where the customer will pay for that unique product,” Petersen said.
“We’re looking at moving into the lumber side, timber especially and other wood products…We try to specialize in the underutilized species in the forest.”
MPP Bill Mauro (Lib., Thunder Bay-Atikokan) made the announcement, which also sees money go to Thunder Bay Hydraulics ($270,216), Andrea’s Art ($15,504), As You Sew…Longarm Quilting ($12,250) and Skyline Falconry ($11,280).
He said each of the five recipients bring something different to the area economy.
“It’s always interesting to see and learn what’s going on in the community and how many people are working away on their own, doing things you might not be aware of creating an economy and employment,” Mauro said.
“I think Skyline Falconry is a great example of something that’s unique that a lot of people probably aren’t aware of and a great example of where we can help fill a void in a niche market.”