Meet Tolko's 2023 Values Award winners


Meet Tolko’s 2023 Values Award winners

Each year, Tolko recognizes 12 exceptional employees who consistently demonstrate our values of Safety, Respect, Progressiveness, Integrity, Open Communication and Profit in their daily life and work.

Today, we’re featuring the first six winners: Crystal Armes, Darren Smith, Devin Berger, Jaehoon Lee, Katelyn Binner and Melmar Aquino

Crystal Armes, Manufacturing Controller, Lakeview
Crystal has been in the Forestry Industry for the past 32 years, having worked for Tolko, Riverside, TimberWest and Fletcher Challenge. She was honored to be selected by her coworkers for the Tolko Values Award.

She says it’s important for her to live Tolko’s Values at home and at work because, “[They] are the same values that my parents raised us with and the same values that my husband and I raised our daughter with.”

“Open communication, respect and integrity foster trust, which in turn allows relationships to prosper. At the same time, progressive thinking allows obstacles to be overcome, learning to take place and individuals to flourish. I have found all of this to be invaluable in both my personal and work life.”


Darren Smith, Electrical Chargehand, Soda Creek
Darren started at Tolko Soda Creek in December of 2014 as an electrician and has been the electrical chargehand since 2018. “I really enjoy being part of the electrical department because no day is ever the same and I get to be involved with making improvements in how we operate,” says Darren.

“Being progressive and having open communication is important to me in the role I have here at Tolko. Being able to work together as a team to solve problems and keep moving forward to help Soda Creek stay successful. I find there is always someone that I can reach out to for help within the Tolko group. I appreciate that Tolko puts safety as its highest priority to make sure that everyone goes home safely.”

Darren has recently taken the role as co-chair of the Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee, and he says that family is the most important thing to him. Working at Tolko gives him the opportunity to have a balanced home and work life.


Devin Berger, Control System Specialist, White Valley
Devin began working for Tolko as an electrician at Armstrong plywood in 2012. Six years later, he moved to his current position of Controls System Specialist and has worked out of White Valley for most of that time.

“My job consists of implementing controls-based projects and upgrading our older hardware with new technology,” says Devin. “The first thing that comes to my mind about how I live by Tolko values at home and at work is family — a co-worker mentioned how he spends a third of his day at work and considers the people here his family. I think it’s important to remember how aspects of work and home can be applied to each other and to treat our co-workers like family.”

Devin appreciates the opportunity he’s had to work with many people across Tolko. He started when he was in high school working weekend cleanup at Lavington, and later as holiday relief, piling lumber, working in packaging and trimming to earn money for school and traveling.


Jaehoon Lee, Quality Control Supervisor, Armstrong Lumber
Jaehoon has been the Quality Control Supervisor at Armstrong Lumber for two years. He joined Tolko in 2016 at Soda Creek as a production employee and became a Planer Chargehand in 2018.

“My family is growing up with Tolko and it couldn’t have happened without safety,” says Jaehoon. “I am very impressed how Tolko highlighted safety; it led us to take safety seriously and created a firm safety culture in Tolko.”

“Tolko’s other values taught me how to respect and communicate with people, and it built good teams in our division. These values are not only applied in the workplace but are also great tools in our family to grow healthy. I am grateful for receiving this award and appreciate that our team recognized me.”


Katelyn Binner, Environmental Manager, SBB & Meadow Lake Technical Manager (Acting), Meadow Lake
Katelyn has been with Tolko for five years and is Environmental Manager for our Strand Based Business. She oversees the environmental programs for each SBB division, and for the past seven months, she was Meadow Lake’s Acting Technical Manager.

“I believe decisions and actions performed at work can and should draw back to Tolko’s values in some form,” says Katelyn. “These values provide a strong foundation for success and are values I strive to live by at home — and hope I teach my boys to do the same. I am honored to work for a company that prioritizes and integrates these values into their everyday operation.”


Melmar Aquino, Technical Manager, High Prairie
Melmar joined Tolko in March 2023 to lead High Prairie’s Technical Department. He enjoys working with the down-to-earth leaders and the many great, hardworking employees at Tolko’s High Prairie Division.

“Tolko’s ‘strong culture to care’ principles align to my purpose: ‘I am made to care.’ From what I have experienced, caring is not just a choice but embedded in Tolko’s purpose and values,” says Melmar. “It reinforces that caring for team members is not just a reaction to specific situations, but an overarching principle that shapes how decisions are made and relationships are nurtured.”

“The Values Award recognition will keep me humble and continuing to work hard and be kind to people, at work and in the community. The ‘culture to care’ happens through open communication and mutual respect while contributing to Tolko’s safety, progressiveness, profitability and by always acting with integrity.”