YaoRun Wood officials are pushing back against accusations that they do not pay their contractors, saying they are confident the truth about their business practises will come out.
YaoRun began operating a log sort yard at the old Skeena Cellulose property on the southside of Terrace earlier this year to hold logs from various timber sales throughout the northwest prior to export. The company also owns property in Hazelton and does operations in Burns Lake and Fort St. James.
But activity at the Terrace yard has stalled with YaoRun and one of its contractors, Bryco Enterprises, involved in a contract dispute over money owed to Bryco.
YaoRun officials say they want to repair the company’s image.
YaoRun chairman, Guiying Lui, speaking through a translator last week, said the company has provided nearly 100 jobs in the northwest and pays municipal, provincial and federal taxes, so he does not understand the backlash against the company.
“We’ve trusted people to run things properly,” he said, noting the language barrier led to a number of miscommunications early on. “At this point the only thing we can do is let the truth speak for itself.”
As of late last week, a sign accusing YaoRun of not paying its contractors still hung in the window of Ebony’s Treasures on Kalum Street. The store owner’s husband, Doug Suttis, said that business with YaoRun added to his financial hardship and he and his wife placed the sign to warn contractors to be careful when entering into agreements with foreign-owned companies.
He said that while YaoRun did pay the final payroll for his employees, the company still owed him tens of thousands of dollars, including money for the transfer of a timber sales from his name to YaoRun’s.
But YaoRun says that it has paid all of Suttis’ invoices in full.
“We are not trying to not pay workers,” said Lui, showing invoices and account statements that detailed payments to Long Shot Holdings, Suttis’ company. “We have paid everything up to date.”
Lui said he is perplexed by the public sign and campaign against his company.
“We would pay him if there is anything owing,” he said. “If there’s anything we owe him, he should come to us and lay down all of his invoices.”
Meanwhile, the company says it is having difficulty working out a financial dispute with Bryco.
“It’s still a gap away from reasonable,” Lui said. “We have the money set aside, we want to pay him, but he needs to come up with a reasonable rate.”
Bryan Halbauer, CEO of Bryco Enterprises, speaking to CFNR last week, said the settlement YaoRun was offering would not cover his expenses, and that he was selling his equipment to pay his crew.
Halbauer has parked equipment – complete with for sale signs on them – on property immediately to the west of YaoRun’s yard.
He also disputed YaoRun’s earlier claim that he was using too much equipment, saying he had to bring in more equipment than he wanted in order to meet their work rate demands.
YaoRun says it has been out nearly $40,000 since the dispute began and that a ship scheduled to pick up sorted logs for export had to be sent away from the Port of Prince Rupert without any product.
The company initially had big plans for the northwest region when it set up shop here in 2011, he said, including introducing more Chinese investors to the area to invest in a myriad of different projects to utilize and process northwest logs. But that all hangs in the balance now as they work to settle this dispute as quickly as possible and get back to work.
“Right now with the situation with all of these contractors, we’re not sure what the next step is. If you’re bringing in other investors, you’re taking responsibility for them. If things are not smooth here, we cannot bring other investors,” Lui said. “We want to stay positive, we believe we’re doing the right thing and would like to move forward.”