From December 11th to 14th, British Columbia’s Minister of Forests, the honourable Bruce Ralston, led a large delegation of industry and First Nations leaders for the annual Canadian forestry mission to Japan. This year’s mission focused on the Greater Tokyo area and included site visits to see large-wood buildings as well as many meetings and events to engage with Japanese customers. One of this year’s highlights was a visit to the Mihashi showroom in central Tokyo that now displays high-value finishing products from Vancouver Island.
For over two years Japan restricted entry during to the pandemic. In order to continue serving the needs of members, BC Wood quickly developed a variety of virtual programs. One company that took part in that was Timber Tile, a manufacturer of sustainable, high quality hemlock interior wall finishing products. Through the program, BC Wood was able to secure a stocking dealership agreement for Timber Tile with Mihashi, which is Japan’s largest moulding supplier. Mihashi is well known for providing finishing materials for commercial projects, including the recently completed Azabudai Hills complex which features Japan’s tallest building.
During the course of developing the relationship with Mihashi, Timber Tile also established an equity partnership with the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. While Mihashi’s chairman was from the beginning very impressed by Timber Tile’s high-grade material and craftsmanship, he had some concerns about their long-term financial resources. Once Mihashi adds a new product to its catalogue, they must be able to supply it for many years to come as commercial projects can take three to four years or more from concept to opening. Therefore, with the Huu-ay-aht’s financial support and fibre access, Mihashi became confident to place a second stocking order and add the product to their showroom, which is heavily frequented by architects and designers.
The Mihashi team was greatly honoured to host the delegation and offer a tour of the showroom. Chairman Mitsuhashi complemented Timber Tile’s product and promised that his staff would work hard to sell it in Japan. Meanwhile, Minister Ralston thanked Mihashi for taking on Timber Tile and re-enforced the importance of value-added products to the future of BC’s forestry industry. From an ownership perspective, Chief John Jack of Huu-ay-aht First Nation also thanked Mihashi for their support and explained how the returns from these products would go to support education, medical facilities, among many other initiatives within his territory. Chief Linda Price of the BCAFN reiterated the benefits of such joint-commercial ventures to all of the partners. Michael Loseth, CEO of Forestry Innovation Investment, was in attendance to offer his congratulations and give recognition to the importance of collaborations between First Nations and BC’s value-added sector as a foundational element of the future of BC’s forest sector.
The next step for the Mihashi-Timber Tile relationship will be their joint participation within the BC Wood organized Canadian Pavilion at the Nikkei Architectural and Construction Materials Show in March. Mihashi’s chairman is very excited about the opportunity to represent such fine products while also supporting local Canadian communities that make them possible.