John Prentice was born Hans Pick in Vienna, Austria in 1907 and changed his name after moving to Canada in 1938. Mr. Prentice was educated in Vienna and graduated with a Law degree; he subsequently went into engineering, specializing in cotton spinning which was the family’s main business in Central Europe.
Just before the Second World War, Mr. Prentice, along with his brother-in-law, L.L.G. “Poldi” Bentley, relocated their families to England and then to British Columbia. When they arrived in Vancouver, they were introduced to two Hungarian immigrants, John Bene and Leslie Shaefer, who were in the furniture veneer business in Europe. With financing from B.T. Rogers (BC Sugar/Rogers Sugar)) they formed a partnership and a company called Pacific Veneer.
With the outbreak of war in 1939, the company was contracted by the British Air Ministry to produce aircraft plywood and became the largest supplier for the Royal Air Force. Through various acquisitions of small sawmills and pulp mills including the purchase of the Engelwood logging company known as Canadian Forest Products, Canfor became an integrated company producing plywood, lumber, shakes and shingles.
It was Mr. Prentice’s initiative to utilize waste materials to make value-added products; it was also his vision and leadership to form a National Wholesale Distribution business for paneling and other allied products. Outside of Canfor, Mr. Prentice’s leadership skills were widely recognized that the Canadian Government appointed him to serve as Chairman of the Canada Council for two terms.
Canfor today concentrates on lumber, pulp, paper, pellets and energy. Currently, the company has a lumber capacity of 5.6 billion board feet and plants more than 55 million seedlings annually. The combined pulp production for Canfor Pulp and Canfor is over 1.3 million tonnes and an additional capacity of 135,000 tonnes of sack paper. The combined sales from the two companies is over $4 billion.