Leadership Team | Tolko Industries

James Allan (Al) Thorlakson

Executive Chairman – Tolko

James Allan (Al) Thorlakson is the Executive Chairman of Tolko Industries Ltd. Mr. Thorlakson graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree and subsequently obtained his Professional Engineer designation. In 1972, he was appointed President of Tolko and in 1981, Chief Executive Officer. In 2010, he retired as CEO, taking on his current role as Executive Chairman.

Mr. Thorlakson is a Director on the corporate boards of Tolko, Timber, Columbia Containers, and Fibreco.

John Thorlakson

Executive Vice Chairman

John Thorlakson is the Executive Vice-Chairman of Tolko Industries Ltd. Mr. Thorlakson graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree and began his engineering career with HA Simons (International) Ltd. in Vancouver where he worked for one year before returning to school to complete a Masters of Engineering (MEng.) at McGill. Following graduation, Mr. Thorlakson worked with Texas Gulf Sulphur Co. in Calgary for five years until he returned to his hometown of Vernon and Tolko. During his time with the company, Mr. Thorlakson has held a number of positions from planer mill scheduler to sales to vice president before accepting his current role of Vice-Chairman in 2010. During his career, Mr. Thorlakson has been known as a strong voice for innovation and championed Tolko’s expansion into the oriented strand board product sector and the establishment of Tolko OSB operations in Meadow Lake, High Prairie, and Slave Lake.

Brad Thorlakson

President & Chief Executive Officer

As President and CEO, Brad sets the direction for Tolko by inspiring vision and alignment at all levels of the organization. Brad also works in partnership with other industry executives and federal and provincial government representatives to develop supportive government policies, progressive safety standards, new products and markets, improved supply-chain and transportation processes, as well as innovative people-policies that drive progress within the forest products sector.

Brad is the third generation of the Thorlakson family to lead Tolko. He began his career at the Lavington Planer Mill and progressed through the company to the position of Vice-President of Marketing and Sales before becoming President and CEO in February 2010. His broad experience has provided him with the appropriate skills to lead the organization.

He currently serves as the Chair of the Forest Products Association of Canada and as a Director and Co-Chair on the BC Lumber Trade Council. Brad is also an active member of the BC Manufacturers’ Advisory Group (MAG) CEO Safety Committee and the Softwood Lumber Board where he represents Canada West. In each of these roles, Brad has provided valuable perspective and leadership in his contribution to the industry and its organizations.

Pino Pucci

Chief Operating Officer-Interim

With over 25 years of industry experience and managing people, Pino’s innovative approach to leadership inspires and challenges his teams to be their best and to deliver results. He believes in open communication and leads with a straight-forward honesty that is appreciated and valued by everyone he works with.

In 2017, Pino and his team were awarded the Tolko Award of Excellence in Innovation. Pino also serves on the Board of Directors for Tolko U.S. Operations, which includes LaSalle Lumber Company LLC, Southeastern Timber Products LLC, and Jasper Forest Products LLC.

Pino graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Lakehead University before launching a career in the industry. His vast experience, from sales representative to president, gives him the unique ability to seek out the most effective cross-divisional communication strategies within the company.

Brian Baarda

Chief Financial Officer and Vice-President, Finance

With over 18 years of Vice President, CEO, COO and CFO experience in the forest and paper product industries, Brian brings to Tolko senior level experience in operations, finance, strategy, information technology, and mergers and acquisitions.

Brian joins Tolko from Peak Renewables, where he was CEO. Prior to that was CEO at Paper Excellence Canada, COO at TimberWest Forest Corporation, and VP & CFO for Catalyst Paper Corporation. Brian holds a Master of Business Administration from Herroit Watt University (Scotland), a Business Administration Diploma from Okanagan College, and holds his Certified Management Accountant designation.

Troy Connolly

Vice President, Solid Wood

When you meet our Vice-President of Solid Wood, you’ll be struck by his commitment to the people he works with and to the values of the company. Troy is a people person who leads our solid wood based operations with vision and a focus on developing strong, capable leaders at all levels of the organization. He does this by mentoring up-and-coming leaders with integrity and honest, supportive feedback. It’s his respect and emphatic belief in people that make him such a capable leader.

Troy began his career with Tolko as a summer student at the Nicola Division, liked how the company operated, and came back to work full-time. He quickly progressed through the company, working his way from Nicola to Quest Wood to White Valley, and finally to High Level where he took on the role of area manager. In 2014 he moved back to Vernon in the role of Senior General Manager, Lumber before becoming the Vice-President, Solid Wood in 2018.

Troy holds a Diploma of Technology, Wood Products Manufacturing (BCIT), a Bachelor of Administration from Athabasca University and an Advanced Executive Certificate, General Management, from Queens University.

Troy is a proud member of the Métis Nation, a distinct Nation among the Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Fred Chinn

Vice President, Strand-Based Business (SBB)

Fred is a Professional Engineer and holds a Bachelor of Engineering – Mechanical, from the Technical University of Nova Scotia and a Diploma of Engineering from St. Mary’s University.  He has broad outreach experience with communities and government stakeholders; and held a Director position on the Tla’amin First Nations Operating Board of Directors during his time in Powell River, BC.

Fred joins Tolko most recently from NEXII Building Solutions Inc. where he held the position of Execution Manager.  Prior to this, Fred spent time with Western Forest Products as General Manager of Fibre Supply, and Catalyst Paper where he held various position including VP and General Manager, Production Manager as well as Maintenance & Engineering Manager.

With over 30 years of senior level experience in engineering, maintenance and wood products manufacturing, Fred brings business-oriented leadership with Canadian and U.S. manufacturing expertise to the Tolko team.

Michael Roberts

Vice President, People and Services

Michael brings over 25 years of experience working in various roles in both operations and corporate services. Michael has led various corporate functions including Human Resources & Labour Relations, Corporate Communications & Shareholder Relations, Information Technology, Internal Audit, Health & Safety and Environment & Sustainability.

Michael joins Tolko from Nalcor Energy, as Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services & CHRO. Prior to that, Michael was Director of Operations, North America at Convergys. Michael holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resources/Labour Relations, as well as a Master of Business Administration from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Janis Simpkins

Vice President, Indigenous & Government Relations and Sustainability

Janis Simpkins is the Vice President of Indigenous & Government Relations and Sustainability for Tolko. Her work with Tolko is centered on advancing new and innovative partnerships with Indigenous communities and providing leadership to Tolko’s reconciliation journey. Janis is responsible for managing Tolko’s energy and environment portfolios and advancing their sustainability performance.

Before joining Tolko, Janis worked in the public and private sector, in addition to holding public office as Reeve for the Municipal District of Greenview in Alberta. Her previous experience includes serving as the Senior Vice President of Environment for the Alberta Forest Product Association and General Manager of Corporate and Government Affairs for West Fraser. Janis has also held numerous executive positions in the Alberta Government including northern and economic development, investor confidence and strategic energy policy. One of Janis’ most significant achievements was leading the stand up of the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation, a $1 Billion investment organization that facilitates investment by Indigenous groups in natural resource projects and related infrastructure.

Janis is a recipient of the Governor General of Canada’s Queens Diamond Jubilee (2012) and the Queens Platinum Jubilee (2022) for her ongoing work with communities and her commitment to public service. Janis was named one of the Canadian Forest Industry’s Top 10 under 40 in 2021.

Janis holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Alberta.

Brad Eckford

Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Logistics

Overseeing Tolko’s Marketing & Sales division, Brad is an innovative strategist who leads the Sales, Marketing and Logistics teams as they seek to deliver quality products and services to new and existing customers around the world. Brad’s journey with Tolko commenced in 2013 when he joined as a Sawmill Superintendent in Quesnel. Steadily climbing the ranks, he assumed the role of Harvesting Superintendent for the Cariboo Woodlands Group in 2016. In 2018, Brad made a strategic move to Vernon, becoming the Rail Manager in the Logistics team, showcasing his versatility within the industry.

One notable initiative under Brad’s leadership is the flourishing T-LINK Product Distribution Network, rebranded to enhance efficiency in delivering products to customers through reload sites.

As the VP of Tolko Marketing, Sales, and Logistics, Brad Eckford leads a team through exciting and transformative times, embracing challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.

David Manley

Vice President, U.S. Operations

Responsible for supporting our partners in the U.S. Joint Ventures, and further develop Tolko’s U.S. operations, David brings over 40 years of experience in the wood products industry to the Tolko team. David has worked across many different segments of the industry including land management, fiber procurement, and lumber and plywood manufacturing. Over the course of his career, he has held senior positions with International Paper, Georgia Pacific, and West Fraser, and worked across several different geographic regions from the US northeast and south to the pacific northwest.

David joins Tolko from West Fraser where he was a Regional Manager supporting multiple facilities across the US south. He has a Bachelor of Forestry degree from the University of Vermont, and a Master of Business Administration from Pennsylvania State University. Having led many different teams throughout his career, David has achieved strong performance by focusing on people and processes. His approach of engaging with people, developing systems, and providing the team with the tools, and support they need, result in sustained operational excellence.