Harmac will open fitness area to nearby residents
Mill has hired trainer for employees and community members
Robert Barron, The Daily News
Published: Thursday, August 20, 2009
Nanaimo's Harmac pulp mill is diversifying into an unlikely field:
The mill's workers have been paying a monthly fee for the past 25 years to put together a fully equipped fitness area they can use when they aren't working.
There have been requests from residents of nearby Cedar and Yellowpoint, which lack similar facilities in their communities, to access the gym for years, but Harmac's previous owners were not interested in opening the gym up to the public.
But Nanaimo Forest Products, which bought Harmac last year, has been reviewing all the mill's assets to identify areas where they can diversify its revenue streams and the company is now eyeing the potential of the mill's gym.
NFP recently hired professional trainer Jon Rainey to manage the gym and provide personal training sessions for Harmac's workers and members of the public who want to use his services and the gym's facilities. Rainey, a post-rehabilitation condition specialist from Victoria, said future plans are to hire more trainers and expand the gym if there is demand.
"We'll take it as it comes but I see no reason why we can't accommodate as many people who want to access the training and the gym as possible," said Rainey as he helped longtime Harmac employee John Kloppenburg with stretching exercises on Wednesday morning.
Harmac president Levi Sampson said that when previous owner Pope & Talbot went bankrupt last year, the workers had more than $15,000 in their gym fund that they were planning to use to build a sauna, but the money was lost in court proceedings after P&T's bankruptcy.
Sampson, a competitive sprinter in his youth, said he hopes plans for the gym's expansion can get back on track with fees that will be charged to the public, as well as supplying another revenue source for NFP.
"It won't be a big moneymaker for us, but every little bit helps and it's also great to be able to offer people from the Yellow Point and Cedar area a great place to work out," he said.
For information, go to www.harmacpacific.com and click on "Harmac Gym."