At Vanderwell, my family and I are proud of the company that we, along with our employees, have built over more than 75 years of working and being part of a thriving northern Alberta. It all starts with employees, which is why safety leads the list of Vanderwell’s values.
We also recognize that our company’s impact goes beyond the workplace. Contributing and making a tangible difference in the communities where we operate is fundamental to the Vanderwell culture. Our commitment and efforts also extend to the environment, from third-party certification that show our actions promote sustainable forest management to ensuring we use all parts of the timber we harvest in our sawmill.
Many of us in my family live, work, and are actively involved in the surrounding communities where Vanderwell operates. It means a great deal to us that our company continues to develop and be successful in a sustainable, responsible way.
For most of his career, Ken has worked at Vanderwell. He has a B.Sc in Computer Information Systems and has supported and served on the boards of different charitable and political organizations in both member and executive positions.
Lauren has extensive experience working in resource-based companies in western Canada. She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management and she is a board member of the Lesser Slave Lake Forest Education Society.
Lindsey Reid is the Office Manager of Vanderwell. In her position, she is responsible for managing the office, camp, and different company administrative activities. As well, Lindsey is accountable for all company social media initiatives and ensuring the biweekly newsletter is designed and distributed.
Rob has worked in many different positions in the safety field. For nine years, he was a town councillor with the Town of Slave Lake and served on many boards including the Slave Lake Air Ground Ambulance Society.
Michael is responsible for managing all accounting functions at Vanderwell, including regulatory and financial reporting, budget forecasts, and financial statement preparation. A long-time volunteer in the local fire service, he currently volunteers at Station 5 in Mitsue and Station 1 in Slave Lake.
Dave manages the sales and shipping of different products, along with invoicing and receivables. He has lived in the Smith area of northern Alberta his entire life, and over the years, he has supported several worthwhile community initiatives.
Mike is responsible for sustainable forest management activities on crown and private land. He has a B.Sc. in Forestry from the University of New Brunswick and represents the company on several science-based research boards.
Gregg Becker is the Chair of the Vanderwell Executive Family Council. For more than 10 years, as the owner and President of Predictable Futures, he has worked extensively in succession and company transitions.
This family council was established in 2015 to continue the vision of the founders, and to bring ownership clarity to business operations.
Karen Vanderwell is one of the original founding members of the Vanderwell company. For more than 40 years, she lived in Slave Lake, supporting her husband Bob Vanderwell, who built the company with his father, Barney Vanderwell. Her support of the family and business played an essential role in Vanderwell achieving the success it enjoys today. Karen has been involved in many Christian organizations over the years with her husband and family. She has always had a passion for singing and writing songs, and in her early ‘20s, she performed in many concerts in Edmonton.
Dianne worked more than 40 years in the nursing field and in the last 20 years she taught at the University of Alberta, Faculty of Nursing as an assistant teaching professor. She has a Bachelor of Nursing degree from the University of Alberta and a Masters of Science in Administration (Health) from Central Michigan University.
Until her retirement in August 2021, Laura was the Vanderwell HR Manager. Over the years, she has worked in different management positions and supported many worthwhile causes in the Slave Lake area. For six years, she was a Councilor with the Town of Slave Lake.
Theresa is currently the Secretary of the Vanderwell Family Foundation. She has extensive experience working and volunteering in the philanthropy and non-profit sectors. Theresa has a Graphic Arts Diploma from SAIT.
Lesli has worked in the Vanderwell administrative office since 2011 and she is currently responsible for special events planning. Lesli serves as a Director on the Vanderwell Family Foundation.
Mary Cameron is the Chair of the Vanderwell Advisory Board. She is a principal of Ozone Advisory Group, a company formed to assist companies achieve their purpose through high performing boards. She has served as CEO of the Workers Compensation Board Alberta, as Deputy Minister Housing in two provinces, and as CEO of several private companies.
Herman Leusink is the founder of Computronix, a software development company started in 1979 with its head office in Edmonton, Alberta, and clients located throughout North America. For more than 40 years, Herman has served on the board of charitable organizations, including the church he and his family attend and an international development agency working in Africa and Asia.
Terry Bachynski has worked in the energy, and resource development industries at the president, executive and board member levels for more than 33 years. He previously was the president of JDEL Associates Ltd. where he provided regulatory and environmental consulting for major resource development and civil infrastructure projects throughout Western Canada.
In 1943, Barney Vanderwell, his father-in-law Mike Pall Sr., Harry Dumouchel and brother-in-law Mike Pall Jr. start a small logging and sawmill operation in the Keephills area, south of Wabamun Lake to sustain the farm during the winter months. They produce 30,000 board feet of lumber for the Swanson Lumber Company. In 1949, Harry Dumouchel sells his shares in the business to his son-in-law, Dick Vanderwell.
In 1961, Barney’s son, Bob Vanderwell, becomes a full partner when Dick Vanderwell sells his shares and leaves the company. In 1968, a forest fire south of Slave Lake destroys the Vanderwell bush-camp and sawmill operation. Out of this event, the company builds a new sawmill and obtains a one-year timber right because of the quantity of burnt timber available for harvesting.
In 1971, the company buys its first long-term timber rights 250 km north of Slave Lake and moves the sawmill to the Red Earth area. Rough lumber is transported to the planer mill set up in the Slave Lake area. In 1978, the sawmill is moved down to the same location as the planer mill in the Slave Lake area.
In 1984, Barney Vanderwell passes away. Swanson Lumber, now owned by Canfor, sells its timber rights and Vanderwell wins the bid. Over the next several years, Vanderwell continues to purchase timber rights, and production goes from 3 to 10 million board feet a month.
The sawmill and planer mill continue to grow and upgrade with new machinery, equipment, and technology with a strong focus on lumber production. During this time, the company turns its focus to producing and utilizing available wood waste such as woodchips, sawdust, and shavings. In 2014, Bob Vanderwell passes away. Ken Vanderwell, his son continues as General Manager running the company on behalf of the family.
From 18 employees 50 years ago, Vanderwell now has 170 employees and 10 permanent contractors. Vanderwell produces over 150 million board feet of lumber a year.