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Young forestry services: company clears way for pipelines across province.

Brian Young always felt more comfortable in the wilderness than in a classroom. As the teacher would drone on, Young would tune out, longing for the bell to ring so that he could feel the sun on his face. Young turned his passion for nature into a thriving business, and now he and his wife, Lorie, are celebrating more than 22 years in business at Young Forestry Services.

"We do logging, run a firewood mill, do residential land clearing, and specialize in brush clearing to keep pipeline rights-of-way clear," said Young. "We're a smaller mom-and-pop business, with approximately 19 employees working across the province, and we all take pride in what we do. Our goal is to earn being rehired, recognized for the good job that we do."

Young Forestry, which is based in Nipissing First Nation, west of North Bay, has earned quite a lot of repeat business, from large players like Trans Canada Pipeline and Union Gas.

"We understand how important our job is, so we make sure it's done right the first time," said Young. "Keeping the area around the pipeline clear is critical. If there was a leak and the company couldn't access it easily, people could die. So I always tell my crew, we do it right the first time ... period. We work like it is our backyard we're clearing ... when we're done it looks like a golf course."

Young also prides himself in having the best employees, handpicked from the community, 80 per cent of whom are Anishinaabe. Certified by the Ministry of Colleges and Universities for the Cutter Skidder Operator Program and the Mechanical Harvesting Operator Program, Young insists on personally training all employees.

"I want everyone to go home safe every day, so I don't bring on other peoples' bad habits," said Young. "I teach them the right way to do things, and instill a good work ethic in them. They're all certified Cutter Skidders through me, and many go on to land big industry jobs after working with us and I'm proud of that."

Not all employees move on from the seasonal work, though. Raymond Perry has been with Young for more than 20 years, since the company was just two chainsaws and a truck.

"He's never missed a day of work, and he now runs my shop and yard," said Young. "He's a big part of the business. You only work hard for people you like, so I appreciate my employees, and they appreciate me. We're more like family."

Young also credits his wife, Lorie, with the company's success.

"I went outside to 'play' and she managed the office," said Young. "That's half the fight right there. She's the one to do it, she's highly educated, and without her, we wouldn't be here."

Quality equipment is another differentiator for Young Forestry Services. "Sure, the new equipment costs more money, but it allows us to work safer and more efficiently, and causes less damage to the property," said Young. "So it's worth it."

Brian is a band member of the Nipissing First Nation, and Lorie is from the Dokis First Nation.

"Anishinaabe people have always lived off the land, so we respect it ... we care about Mother Nature, the animals, and peoples' property too," said Young. "We avoid spraying chemicals and we ask for permission before crossing peoples' land. Our respect for the people and land around us is one of our selling features.... we're pretty unique, and it's one of the reasons that large companies like to hire us."

Young's grandfather, also Ojibwe, was a logger, and was a mentor to him.

"I always heard stories of what grandfather did, how he was a big part of Nipissing First Nation," said Young. "There wasn't a lot of work back then and he took care of his people, he helped people financially when they needed it, and helped pay for their weddings, etc. I try to walk in his footsteps ... he was a great man."

Young hopes to inspire his kids, and other Anishinaabe youth, to build their own businesses, which in turn builds the community. His advice for entrepreneurs: "If you have a dream ... a passion, chase it. Don't listen to people who talk you down. You can do it! Being outdoors is where I always wanted to be, so I built a company around that. It's my pride and joy."


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Title Annotation:Best Indigenous Businesses
Author:Robinson, Nadine
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:May 1, 2017
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