Owner, Wenstob Timber Resources
Kevin Wenstob is a life-long logger and sawmill operator. Along with his partner-in-life Sarah Fleming, he’s the owner of Wenstob Timber Resources, one of the last independent sawmill and logging operations on Vancouver Island. Kevin and Sarah started the company together 25 years ago, and have been working hard to keep the mill alive ever since. Kevin loves having his son Erik working alongside him and Sarah to help the mill succeed.
When Kevin was in grade three, his family left the city behind, moving to the wilderness coast of Vancouver Island to start a new life for themselves. Growing up among the island’s forests, inlets and mountains gave Kevin a deep love for nature. It also gave him a deep respect for how deadly nature can be. From his youngest days, Kevin learned how to navigate the raging seas and high tides of the Pacific Ocean, and survive on the dangerously steep slopes of the island’s mountain ranges.
Even when he was little, people were amazed by what a quick learner Kevin is. He might have dropped out of public school in grade three, but Kevin is well respected for his incredible mechanical abilities, his talent for doing complex math in his head, and his vast understanding of everything to do with logging and sawmills. When people have a problem, they ask themselves “What would Kevin do?”
Kevin’s mechanical ability is a big part of the secret to his success. Between Kevin and his son Erik, they can fix just about anything, so Kevin’s taken to buying up ancient, broken logging and sawmill equipment at auction for pennies on the dollar that he can repurpose for his own operation. That’s saved him millions of dollars in equipment cost over the years, and helped him stay profitable. But it’s also led to the creation of his boneyard – a rag tag collection of cranes, boats, trucks and other machines spread around the sawmill yard that Kevin and Erik harvest for parts when needed – that’s sometimes a point of contention with Sarah.
Kevin started logging when he was twelve years old, around the time he first cut timber in a sawmill. They used it to build their family home, and eventually a fishing lodge that the family ran together. Kevin helped run the fishing lodge for a while, but realized his heart was in the forest, not on the sea. He found himself pulled toward the logger’s life, loving the freedom it gives him – he can’t imagine doing anything else.
One thing Kevin learned early is that you have to take a gamble if you want to win. His first big bet was when he and Sarah started their business, and all he had for collateral was his truck and a chainsaw. His latest bet is laying down a million and a half dollars on his mountainside timber claim and building a dock at Hook Bay to haul down a thousand loads of logs waiting for him up there. While others may doubt, Kevin is certain he’ll pull his plan off.
Known for his over-the-top personality, Kevin is a self-confessed class-clown who uses jokes and funny voices to make the best of things when times get tough, and help keep the people around him feeling positive and motivated. After all, on the steep slopes of his high mountain timber claim, all you can do is laugh in the face of danger!
Kevin’s life has had its share of tragedy as well. The worst was when his brother Tim, who Kevin had once been business partners with, lost his life in a boating accident while hauling wood on the Alberni Inlet. It’s a memory that haunts Kevin, and to this day drives him to take care of the safety of everyone around him.
For all that he loves logging, Kevin’s greatest joy is his two boys, Erik and his younger brother Jack, and the love of his life, Sarah Fleming. If there’s anyone who can keep Kevin on track, it’s Sarah.
Owner, Wenstob Timber Resources
Sarah Fleming is the owner of Wenstob Timber Resources, along with her partner-in-life Kevin Wenstob. As General Manager, Sarah oversees their sawmill and sales operations, while Kevin runs things up on their mountainside timber claim. She’s the first to admit, though, that her biggest job is managing Kevin.
Sarah and Kevin first met when Sarah was in high school and Kevin was working as a logger. It’s been true love ever since. Sarah jokes about the looks he’d get when he’d show up at her school to pick her up, wearing his logging gear and covered in truck grease, but it’s all part of Kevin’s unique nature.
Sarah is a highly trained medical professional, and worked as an operating room nurse for many years. Back when they started their business, all Kevin had to his name were a pickup truck and a chainsaw, so it was Sarah’s career and salary that gave banks the confidence they needed to invest in their startup. In the early years Kevin ran the business on his own, then about twelve years ago it grew too big for one person to handle. At that point Sarah decided to leave her career behind and come work full time at the mill.
While Kevin is more of a dreamer and doesn’t worry so much about money, Sarah is very practical and is always thinking about the bottom line. She wants to make a profit not because she’s greedy but because that’s what allows them to keep their sawmill and their lifestyle alive. That leads to their biggest ongoing conflict, which is how much they should sell their timber for. Kevin always wants to cut the customers a deal to keep them coming in, but Sarah stands by the high quality of their product and wants to make sure they get what they deserve.
Sarah stands behind Kevin’s decision to make the biggest bet of their life by putting a million and a half dollars down on their own timber claim, but she’s also very aware that if anything goes sideways, everything they’ve worked for could come crashing down.
Between taking care of her boys, Erik and his younger brother Jack, and her responsibilities at the mill, Sarah’s spent a lot of years focusing on other people’s needs instead of her own. With the boys grown, it’s only recently that she’s managed to recapture a passion from her youth: raising and riding purebred horses. Sarah is the proud owner of an Andalusian horse named Valentina who she loves to ride on weekends, working with a trainer who is helping her recapture the riding skills from her youth.
Heavy Duty Mechanic
Erik Wenstob is Kevin and Sarah’s eldest son and a natural mechanical genius. Erik fell in love with fixing things as a teenager, when he bought an old dirt bike and brought it back to life so he could go dirt biking with his life-long friend Coleman. He’s had the bug ever since. What Erik loves even more than fixing things is finding unique solutions to hard-to-solve problems, and inventing new machines and new ways of doing things.
Erik studied aviation mechanics and was training to repair helicopters when he felt compelled to return to the sawmill and help his parents keep the operation running. Today, Erik is glad to pitch in and play a key role in the family business by keeping Kevin’s motley collection of ancient, breakdown-prone equipment running at the sawmill and on their mountainside timber claim. That equipment is key to their success: by buying old, broken equipment for pennies on the dollar then fixing it up, Kevin can turn a profit where others would face a loss.
Lead Hand (Hook Tender & Sawyer)
Coleman Wilner is Kevin Wenstob’s right-hand man, as the hook tender on the timber claim, and his lead sawyer at the sawmill. A driven, dedicated, hard worker, Coleman aspires to one day be as successful in the business as Kevin is. On the mountain, Coleman does everything from drive logging trucks to choking logs, and at the mill he turns raw logs into valuable timber.
Coleman grew up next door to the Wenstob family, where he became lifelong friends with Erik. When he was 17, Coleman approached Kevin about coming to work at the mill and took on a part time job helping to stack wood and build fence panels while finishing high school. He’s been working hard in the five years since to grow his skills and experience. While Coleman has a lot of skills in some areas, he’s got a lot to learn in others, but he’s always up for the chance to be shown the right way to do things.
When he’s not up on the timber claim or running the saw, Coleman loves nothing more than spending time with his girlfriend and his dog, and practicing his archery skills.