Aerial view of aspen in Mercer Peace River's Forest Management Area

A Lifetime Achievement Award for Mercer’s Own Joerg Goetsch

Mercer International is proud to share that Joerg Goetsch of the Mercer International Vancouver team is a recent recipient of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented to those who have been committed to the forestry sector during their careers, invaluable for their long-time engagement, support, and advocation. Joerg’s support and work have been nothing short of outstanding and he deserves to be celebrated.

Joerg Goetsch, retiree and Director of Strategic Initiatives for Western Canada for Mercer International's Vancouver team, receives Lifetime Achievement Award from Derek Nighbor, FPAC President and CEO, September 2022.

Joerg Goetsch receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from FPAC President & CEO Derek Nighbor for the fifth annual FPAC Awards of Excellence.

Early Days in the Peace

Retired from the corporate team this past May as Mercer’s Director of Strategic Initiatives for Western Canada, Joerg’s forestry roots run deep in the Peace Region of Alberta. After completing his first diploma with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), he worked with the Alberta Forest Service in Fort Chipewyan as an Aerial Observer for forest fires. This launched his forestry career, opening the opportunity to become a Forest Officer in training. The training brought him to High Prairie Forest Products, managing different contracts there until he was approached by the Government of Alberta in 1989 to work as a Forest Officer based in Manning.

As Manning is located just under 100 kilometres north of Peace River, Joerg’s district oversaw the activities of Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd. (DMI) – now known as Mercer Peace River (MPR) – within their Forest Management Area. As he and the Woodlands group worked more and more closely together, Joerg was approached to join DMI’s team in 1992. In a few short years, the position of Planning Superintendent became available, with Joerg putting his name forward. With a new title to his name, the expectation was for Joerg to become a registered forester. “I completed my Bachelor’s in Forestry, mostly through correspondence and some condensed summer courses,” Joerg explained, “I was the first forester graduate at the time to complete the syllabus program requirements of the now-called Association of Alberta Forest Management Professionals through this alternate pathway.”

Finding new solutions, seeking new challenges, and seizing opportunities became evident as Joerg’s aptitude throughout his growing career. Moving from student to supervisor in just seven short years, Joerg’s ability to recognize areas for growth and engagement would repeat throughout his time in the forestry sector.

Progressive in Responsibilities, Progressive in Industry

After 10 years of DMI’s harvesting activities, the Woodlands planning department realized that aspen was consistently low and more loads needed to be brought in. In reviewing the problem, Joerg found that loads of rear-and-front facing logs (as per industry at the time) were no longer an efficient process; so, he began to research portable chipping. Seeing several benefits involved with a shift, Joerg travelled to the DMI head office in Japan to propose a trial for portable chipping. Approved, the trial began in 2002, bringing such a high amount of efficiency and success that production scaled up. This resulted in the Woodroom being closed in 2004, replacing its function with six portable chippers.

“Every 15-20 years, there is an incremental change in process and technology to make an overall process more efficient and effective,” Joerg says, “Technology has changed again where it makes sense [for MPR] to go back to the Woodroom. To come full circle in my career like this is quite astounding, I believe.”

Joerg’s full-circle career would also be seen throughout the mid-2000s. In 2005, Joerg was promoted to Woodlands Manager, where he used his knowledge gained as a Planning Superintendent to grow in his ability to engage with external stakeholders, industry associations, and Indigenous groups. In 2010, however, Joerg sought out a shift to Production Manager. As someone who always challenges himself to continue learning, the opportunity to move from Woodlands to the mill’s production allowed Joerg to grow beyond the forestry role. Relying on the team he led to also mentor him established a different relationship than had been seen within that environment before. In Joerg’s time as Production Manager, the production team saw some of the highest annual production numbers in the mill’s history. “I really wanted to empower folks to do their jobs,” Joerg reflects, “Working in the same four walls with one team, every day, you can become quite strong.” After some time, Joerg knew it was time to challenge himself once more and returned to the Woodlands team.

“I really wanted to empower folks to do their jobs.”

Through his studies to coincide with the Woodlands Manager role, and with his focus once again on the external, Joerg saw an opportunity to build external relationships through the bioeconomy – what could be integrated into the business to benefit the company? With the government kicking off more and more greenhouse gas mitigation strategies, there were ample opportunities to become involved. Joerg served on numerous industry and government boards, including Alberta Innovates, for six years representing Alberta’s forestry interests. In 2013, Joerg became involved at the corporate level of the business, growing in external and government affairs to look at diversity, human resources, policies and procedures.

In 2015 Joerg also took on the role of President and a member of the Board of Directors for Peace River Logging (PRL). The role was rewarding and challenging, as it sought to balance the needs and relationships between PRL, the mill’s Woodlands and the Production departments. “This became complicated at times,” Joerg admitted but is a position he held for seven years throughout Mercer’s acquisition and up until retirement. His time in the position included meetings in Vancouver and Edmonton with five First Nations. As their traditional lands provide Mercer with the fiber they need to operate, these gatherings are paramount to strengthening our relationships and determining what we want to build for a future, together.

Reflecting on a Lifetime of Achievements

Joerg is an embodiment of our values of Boldness and Sustainability, exploring opportunities and taking risks all while ensuring environmental responsibility. His fast growth and influence within Canada’s forest industry are a testament to his ambitious and adaptable nature. He believes that those who are skilled, willing, and capable can accomplish whatever they want – especially in a company like Mercer. “With Mercer, I’ve found that, if you express a strong desire and confidence, you’re encouraged to find the results.” 

That desire can be a new project, new process, or a new role – all avenues with which Joerg is familiar. “Going into forestry, I never thought I would end up in Government Relations or HR,” he reflects, “You go into your field of passion, but you can end up in different – yet related – fields.” Knowing this from his experience, Joerg has only this for advice:

“Have fun growing in your role and see where things take you.” 

Thank you, Joerg, and congratulations from the Mercer team for your much-deserved award.

You can find Joerg and his fellow Lifetime Achievement Award recipients on the FPAC website.