Five Canadians crack Woodworking Network’s 40 Under 40 honor roll
September 4, 2020 | 10:07 am CDT

Five Canadians, representing four provinces, are among this year’s 40 Under 40 award winners celebrated by Woodworking Network.

The five Canadian honorees apply their skills in various sectors of the woodworking industry from kitchen cabinet and plywood manufacturing through the millwork production and software development.

This year marked Woodworking Network’s fifth annual presentation of the 40 Under 40 awards. As a sign of the times the ceremony was held virtually on Aug. 26 instead of at the International Woodworking Fair as originally planned. The program recognizes industry professionals who are making a positive impact at their companies, in their communities and in the North American wood products industry. Among the factors that were considered by the judges for each of this year’s more than 140 nominees included contributions to his or her company’s productivity, profitability, social good, ingenuity, innovation, peer inspiration, product development and organizational leadership.

Following is a summary of each of the five Canadians included in this year’s 40 Under 40 class. Learn more about all 40 2020 award winners in this slideshow.

Corey Laurysen, 34
Processing and projects manager
Laurysen Kitchens Ltd.
Stittsville, Ontario

Laurysen is a third-generation member of this award-winning kitchen cabinet and closet manufacturer that is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Laurysen’s nominator said he “has embraced new technology and brought it to our company helping us keep pace with the advancements in our industry. He was introduced to a program called Bridgit Closeout (a punch list) that builders were using to keep track of their site's progress. He reached out to Bridgit Closeout and implemented this software program in our service department. The creators of the program never thought to apply it to the trades, so our company was helping them discover new applications in our industry. This program has greatly reduced the number of service calls and provides us with a clear picture of our major sites and the service completed as well as the time table of all service items.”

Vanessa Richter, 33
Co-founder and COO
Troico Home Solutions and Manufacturing Inc.
Coquitlam, British Columbia

Sarah Richter’s nominator called her “a trailblazer in the male-dominated engineered wood products manufacturing industry.”

Troico employs approximately 35 people and works with more than 100 partners/subcontractors. The company’s 16,000-square-foot manufacturing facility specializes in robotic-based cabinet manufacturing. Under Richter’s leadership and drive for exceptional quality and customer service, Troico has won multiple cabinet manufacturing awards and experienced extensive growth.

According to the nominator, “In 2019 Vanessa and her team developed, supported and delivered a program to employ young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Troico’s manufacturing facility. Manufacturing wood cabinetry is repetitive and process-driven which is excellent for the autistic mind. Vanessa rolled out this program in honor of her son Jackson (8 years old) who, like many, is on the spectrum. Securing meaningful employment is currently the number one challenge for people on the spectrum as they age into adulthood. Vanessa’s goal is to combine Troico’s vision and enable meaningful employment with natural product manufacturing – creating opportunities to break down the stigma surrounding individuals with disabilities.  It’s the full circle of sustainability, using natural products to enable inclusive work environments,”

Jonathan Saucier, 35
Product manager
St.-Jerome, Quebec

Jonathan Saucier “has dedicated his career to the advancement of software and technology for wood manufacturers,” said his nominator.

She described him as “a young professional who has the kind of vision and drive that can truly take our industry into the future of manufacturing, and ensure the sustainability of small to medium-size wood manufacturing businesses in North America. Without people like Jonathan, who have the knowledge and understanding to create products that bring our manufacturers into Industry 4.0 in a practical and realistic way, our industry may not survive the competition from cheaper outside sources."

Saucier is credited with helping develop Web-Cab software products, including Production Coach, which won a Challengers Award at the 2018 International Woodworking Fair. “His vision to contribute to the optimization of manufacturing facilities drives continuous innovation that responds to real need in our industry. His passion is contagious and, combined with his deep understanding of the unique challenges of wood manufacturing, make him a definite person-of-interest – and someone to watch for years to come,” his nominator added.

Chris Savic, 36
S&S Woodcraft Inc.
Cold Lake, Alberta

“(F)orward thinker” and “driven to excellence” are two of Chris Savic’s leadership attributes brings to his company that manufactures custom cabinets and countertops, according to one of two his nominators.

“(He has a) keen interest is to improve in all those areas and he has invested significant time and money to do so. I place him in the top 10 percent of the business owners I have worked with in regard to his commitment to excellence. Most people in his position are reluctant to actually do what they need to do, even after they learn what they need to do. Chris will be a model for others to follow,” the nominator added.

“Chris' pride in his craft and his determination to continue to produce beautiful woodwork is his motivation,” said a second nominator. “It has been instilled in him since childhood, growing up in his father's woodworking shop to always move further forward with no intention to stay stationary or become stagnant in an ever-changing field.”

Ali Zarei, 33
Controller and corporate secretary
Richmond Plywood Corp. Ltd.
Richmond, British Columbia

Through his adroit financial management skills, Ali Zarei, CPA, CA, “has continued to propel the company’s financial success to new heights, by maximizing our company’s intrinsic value and building a solid balance sheet that enables us to weather any financial storm,” said his nominator.

A recipient of the 2017 Canadian Forest Industries Top 10 Under 40 award,  Zarei’s “working capital, liquidity, and specifically free cash-flow management is bar-none in my view as it ensures the utmost resiliency and longevity of how the company is maintained,” his nominator said. “Since joining Richply four years ago, all key balance and ratio records have been surpassed and he continues to raise the financial expectations, only to beat them again. His keenness and pursuit of setting new financial precedents are pivotal in his continued achievement of impeccable results.”

The 2020 40 Under 40 Award program was sponsored by Timber Products Co. and Hexagon Production SoftwareCabinet Vision and Alphacam.

Plaques for the 2020 Wood Industry 40 Under 40 are being provided by Epilog Laser.


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

Profile picture for user richchristianson
About the author
Rich Christianson | President/Owner/C-Level

Rich Christianson is the owner of Richson Media LLC, a Chicago-based communications firm focused on the industrial woodworking sector. Rich is the former long-time editorial director and associate publisher of Woodworking Network. During his nearly 35-year career, Rich has toured more than 250 woodworking operations throughout North America, Europe and Asia and has written extensively on woodworking technology, design and supply trends. He has also directed and promoted dozens of woodworking trade shows, conferences and seminars including the Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and the Woodworking Machinery & Supply Conference & Expo, Canada’s largest woodworking show.