By Lawrence Loiseau
Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Donna Barnett and recently appointed Minister of State for Rural Economic Development cut the ribbon to officially launch Trinity Post & Panel Inc.’s (TPP) brand new factory site in Lone Butte at noon on Nov. 26.
Having purchased the site June 1, the company has been operating at the 12-hectare (29-acre) location since July 21.
Standing on a fresh layer of snow, Barnett’s ribbon cutting was accompanied by TPP CEO Ken Harper and Cariboo Regional District (CRD) chair Al Richmond, CRD Area H Director Margot Wagner and District of 100 Mile House Councillors Bill Hadden and Dave Mingo to commemorate the event.
After the ceremony, Harper led onlookers on a tour of the factory, which ranged from the manufacturing of the paneling to the special cutting and design process of the wood posts.
The new site is designed to both produce its patented “eco-friendly” and energy-saving homes, as well as educate prospective buyers and the public about their benefits.
The company has installed its own mill and patented dadoing system, and Harper placed special emphasis on the lumber production and the finishing possibilities for his houses.
“People often don’t realize they can apply various different finishes to the houses. They can choose to soften the edges of the external wooden supports to give a more rustic look. They can also choose different kinds of lumber, not just fir – pine or cedar for example.”
Everyone was then invited to the Iron House Pub for an open house.
Harper a keynote speaker
The launch of TPP’s new factory site was not the only significant event on Harper’s schedule last month.
November saw him travel to the Northern BC Housing Conference, hosted both at the University of Northern BC and the Community Development Institute on Nov. 18.
He also attended the invitation-only BC Job Makers Forum at the Microsoft Centre of Excellence in Vancouver on Nov. 23.
“Both events exceeded my expectations,” says Harper.
At the Housing conference, Harper was a keynote speaker, while at the BC Job Maker’s Forum, the local businessman was recognized for his innovation in housing.
His recent work with job training and First Nations communities stands out as the most significant development lately.
The company is attempting to co-ordinate an arrangement with First Nations that enables them to use TPP housing while keeping it reasonably priced.
This means two things: eliminating middle-man contractors and training those, especially young people, in the First Nations communities.
These young people get to learn how to construct the houses themselves, an endeavour that combines job training, education and negotiation with First Nations, Harper explains.
“You can’t bring it to First Nations directly because they can’t afford it.”
He notes setting up TTP structures typically requires outside contractors.
“The added price of contractors to set up our post-and-beam packages can be exorbitant.”
As a result, Harper says he is attempting to arrange an agreement where First Nations youth can be trained to set up his post-and-beam packages directly within First Nations communities, without involving the usual contractors.
This has led him to working with Thomson Rivers University in terms of figuring out how such education would work.
“We would teach them to design and build Trinity structures.”
Training would include such things as basic drywall, electrical and plumbing skills, he adds.
“It would create jobs and help solve their housing crisis.”
The details of the skills training have yet to be worked out. Whether the education would take place at the Lone Butte site has not yet been decided and discussions are ongoing.