Seiji Omote

Timber Industry Advisor

Where did you grow up, and what was your early life like?

I grew up in a small town called Kokufu, a beautiful natural wilderness surrounded by mountains and rivers that’s now part of Takayama City in Gifu Prefecture. I was a crazy boy who had an active and unconstrained outdoor childhood. I also spent lots of time on sports such as baseball, track and field, ping pong and skiing. I never imagined I would work for the Canadian forestry industry, even though going to North America was a big dream of mine.


What sparked your passion for timber and Canada? 

When I made my first trip to BC in 1977, I found the forests there—especially in the interior—very similar to those in my hometown, and I felt really at home. I also have a keen interest in wood products. My passion and key driver, though, is the camaraderie and mutual trust I have with the Canadian people. 


What got you involved in Canada’s lumber industry? 

After graduating from college in 1969, I got a job at a major trading house. They assigned me to the North American Timber Sales Division in Nagoya. Within several years I was supposed to be stationed somewhere on the West Coast of North America. They got in financial trouble, though, because of a failure in the oil business in Newfoundland. 

Quite fortunately, I got a job in 1977 at Seaboard Timber and Plywood Asia, a Canadian company in Tokyo. A totally new venture, and English was a real challenge! I was promoted to general manager of the Tokyo office in 1991. Seaboard was a cooperative association representing more than twenty shareholders across BC for overseas export sales, but then the association was dissolved in 1993 and immediately a group with four members sharing common interests formed a similar association called Interex Forest Products. I managed Interex’s Japan office until 2013, when I retired.


How did you get involved with Ehime Prefecture?

Ehime Prefecture started up its Ehime Wood Products Market Development Council in 2010 with thirteen forest
product manufacturing companies and distributors as members. In 2014, they were recruiting experienced lumber people, especially those with offshore marketing expertise. 

I’d had nothing to do with this pre-
fecture except some business relationships. They asked a Lumber Journal editor (a major media in the wood industry) to recommend someone who could support offshore market development for their domestic wood products. I’d known the editor for over three decades, and they took his suggestion and contacted me. They sounded sincere and I responded positively.


What do you do for them?

I’m an advisor and coordinator dealing with offshore market development. For example, when they join trade shows and research trips in other countries, I serve as a translator and interpreter. They are typical Japanese with very limited exposure to other countries and different cultures, so I explain things and narrow the gap. I also assist with planning and the itinerary, make appointments and so on. When I receive specific inquiries from other countries, I introduce this organization, and aid in the negotiation process when necessary.

Outside of that, I collect market information, handle English translations of brochures and any other literature when required, and help out at domestic trade shows to introduce Ehime products to visiting customers. 


How do you spend your time outside the business world?

Outdoor activities like tennis and golfing. I started playing tennis about thirty years ago with my wife and we still play. I’ve been playing golf for about five decades. Both are good for fun and health, so I’d like to do them for as long as possible. Cooking is also fun for me.


Pic credit

Ehime Wood Products Market Development Council


Ready for the mill: prime cuts from Ehime

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