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From Lab Coats to Lumber – Eric Roy Comes Home to NB


A key part of our hiring strategy at JDI is to "bring them Home".  Eric Roy is great example.  He is the Sawmill Superintendent at Grand Lake Timber in Chipman, NB.  He joined JDI in 2013, after having completed his Engineering Degree at the Université de Moncton, but his story started long before accepting a job at the Sussex Sawmill. 

After graduating from Université de Moncton in 2004 with a Bio-Chemistry degree, he started working in the lab for a large pharmaceutical company. A few years in, the plant’s lead engineer was laid off, and over the holidays they needed an extra set of hands, so Eric volunteered to stick around and help out. He quickly discovered he liked the engineering side better than in the lab. After 3 years in the New Brunswick plant, he moved to Colorado, where he worked half in the lab, running the testing and half building the equipment with the engineering department. After another 3 years, it became clear that the engineering side of the business interested him more, so he returned to Moncton, to his Alma Mater, to enroll in a Bachelor of Engineering.

Understanding that his previous degree put him a few steps ahead with credits, he managed to complete his 5-year program in just 3 years, graduating in 2013.

“The plan was always to come home to New Brunswick and get a job with JDI. I had to apply to several openings, and when I saw the Process Improvement role open up in Sussex I knew that job was for me,” says Eric, of his first role with JDI.

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A little over a year into his role he was approached about a new project that the Sawmill Division was starting. They were planning a $37 million, 28-week modernization project of Grand Lake Timber (GLT). He was asked to leave the Sussex Sawmill for a 6-month stint to help the project team build the new mill.

“Obviously I said yes, because it’s not very often you’re asked to help build a mill”.

Although Eric had every intention of returning to Sussex once the GLT project was over, he found himself interviewing for the Maintenance Supervisor role. After about 2 years, he moved into the Reliability Engineer role, ensuring the mill runs at the most productive level possible. He did that for another 2 years before becoming the Maintenance Superintendent. A few years into this role, he was offered a seat in the JDI funded MBA course. The plan at that time was once he graduated, he would assume the role of Sawmill Superintendent, which he transitioned into in July of 2019.

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 Eric is very aware of the importance of a diverse workload - if he hadn't helped out the engineering department, there's a good chance he would still be working in a lab. This means when he has students coming in, he ensures they're challenged and involved in the mill.

“Every day is something new, so it keeps you busy. If you’re an engineer and you want a job that will keep you busy, then you want to work in a Sawmill. It’s high pace, high energy, it’s all about speed. Our students don’t push paper, or punch numbers. They do real projects. Plan. Install. Own the project. We don’t just find work for students, we find real, important, necessary projects and get these students to run with them," said Eric. 

The Sawmill Division is always looking for fresh talent in co-op students and new graduates to join the team - as well as folks like Eric who want to come home. “We know over the next few years there are many jobs to be filled in our sawmill division.  Students, new grads, experienced people looking to stay home, come home or make the region home are critical. Having new talent in our workforce allows diverse perspectives and ensures our company is successful long term," says Lauren Demers, Senior Sourcing & Recruitment Specialist

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