Learn about the Canadian Wool Industry with Eric Bjergso from the Canadian Co-Operative Wool Growers Limited.

Written by Elisabeth van Delden Thursday, October 4, 2018

Eric Bjergso introduces us to the Canadian sheep and wool industry.

In his interview, Eric provides insights into the history of the Canadian wool industry, sheep breeds and wool qualities. He describes the challenges and opportunities Canadian wool growers are faced with and how the Co-operative is supporting its members in the same.

About Eric Bjergso

Eric Bjergso is the General Manager of the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers Limited. Eric is a graduate of the Agricultural College. He joined the Canadian Co-operative Wool Growers Limited in 1976 and has been the General Manager since 1983.

Listen to the episode: 

http://www.elisabethvandelden.com/101-eric-bjergso/

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30th Nanjing Wool Market Conference and Wool Trade Fair

Written by CCWG Friday, September 28, 2018

Eric Bjergso, CCWG General Manager attended the 30th Nanjing Wool Market Conference and Wool Trade Fair on September 11th – 13th in Nanjing Jiangsu Province, China.

Over 500 delegates were registered from the Chinese and international wool trade.

Participants include growers, traders, primary processors, spinners, weavers and garment manufacturers. It provided an excellent opportunity for all international delegates to meet with China’s biggest wool buyers and processors, all in one place. Contracts were negotiated for 700,000 pounds of graded and objectively measured Canadian wool.

 

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Lethbridge AB Branch Celebrates our 100th Birthday

Written by CCWG Friday, August 17, 2018

Happy 100th Birthday Party in Lethbridge, AB

Happy 10th Birthday CCWG

Stop by for some cake

Cake!

Stay for the BBQ

CCWG 100th birthday party BBQ

Colouring contest for our 100th birthday party

Colouring Contest for kids, put your name in for the draws!

CCWG Lethbridge decorated for our 100th birthday party

Find a deal of the century!

Sale of the Century

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Wool buyers from China visit the Carleton Place wool grading warehouse

Written by CCWG Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wool buyers from China visit the Carleton Place wool grading warehouse

July 31, 2018

 

Posted in Company News

Diversification helps Wool Growers weather 100 years

Written by Tom Van Dusen - Ontario Farmer Thursday, July 26, 2018

Diversification helps Wool Growers weather 100 years

By Tom Van Dusen
July 10, 2018 OntarioFarmer.com

Carleton Place – When Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers General Manager Eric Bjergso is asked how business today compares to what it was 100 years ago, he has no trouble answering. 

Eric Bjergso holds up a slim 1918 Wool Growers Coop Annual Report1st CCWG annual report

In his office in what was once Canadian Pacific Railway roundhouse and machine shops in Carleton Place, Bjergso quickly comes up with an original, intact copy of the coop’s 1918 annual report which shows it collected 4.5 million pounds of raw wool in that first year. Wool sales stood at $2.9 million, with shepherd’s supplies at a meagre $3,400. 

That was the heyday of the Canadian raw wool industry. By the mid-70s when Bjergso came on board, wool collection, grading and processing had dropped to about 1.5 million pounds. In recent years, with changes in consumer tastes and more attractive prices, that number has rebounded to close to three million pounds. 

But the really impressive figures are at the retail end. From that early shepherd’s supplies line item, retailing has climbed to $7 million on total annual revenues of just over $10 million.  It’s all about diversification, Bjergso explains. 

The CCWG complex is a study in contrasts. In one large section, large sacks of raw wool are stacked in gloomy surroundings which would fit comfort- ably into Dickens England. Other sections contain a wool store and livestock equipment retailing as bright and inviting as any you’re likely to see. In between is a warren of administration offices. 

Celebrating its 100th anniversary mostly during its annual meeting and banquet to be held at nearby Almonte Oct. 18-20, the coop was founded as a mechanism for paying all members the same price for their raw product no matter size of the wool clip, the time of year received, or distance travelled to the Carleton Place facility acquired in 1940. 

‘’The place was a mess, ‘’ Bjergso observed. ‘’Tracks, turntable, steel wheels… anything and everything needed for train repair could be found in the building.’’ On the positive side, scrap iron was much in demand at the beginning of WWII and what might have been a liability was turned into an asset. 
On the CPR mainline, Carleton Place was ideally located to handle wool from the west and ship it via Montreal to points in Europe as well as across Canada. Originally with warehouses in Weston and offices in Toronto, by 1972 the entire CCWG operation had been moved to Carleton Place. Coop administration is housed a section of the building which once served as storage and boiler room for the CPR.  

Raw wool is graded according to fibre diameter and length, amount of grease and foreign matter. After grading as fine, medium and coarse, wool is shipped out in compact bales, with 90 per cent exported out of Canada. China is a major buyer. 

In 1979, the old CPR coal bins were transformed into the Real Wool Shop. The roundhouse was renovated into Stockman Supply and overflowing Equestrian Centre for tack and Western clothing. The room also contains a railway memorabilia mini museum. 

Together with livestock supplies sold in Carleton Place and at outlets in Lethbridge, St. Jacob’s, Cookstown and Saint-Hyacinthe, retailing now makes up about 60 per cent of CCWG annual sales. ‘’With the drop in wool processing in the ‘70s, we knew we had to diversify and we’ve done a pretty good job of it,’’ Bjergso said. 
There’s much to celebrate and as part of the festivities, CCWG is developing a 100th banner. In addition, the milestone was recognized at the Lambs Down Park Festival June 16, an annual family day held on the coop grounds, and will be acknowledged again July 7-8 during A Stitch in Time demonstrations and displays at Dunvegan, Glengarry County.

CCWG wool bags

Eric Bjergso inside the cavernous raw wool receiving area.

 

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