Serving the North American forest industry for over 75 years

Head Office
8717 - 132nd Street
Surrey, British Columbia
Canada, V3W 4P1
Phone: (604) 522-3977

News & Events

Celebrating Women

International Women’s Day takes place annually on March 8th — celebrating women’s achievements across all segments of society and a call to continue the pursuit of inclusivity and equal representation.

To honour this event, we spoke with the inspiring women at Brunette Machinery who have cultivated successful careers in this traditionally male-dominated industry. We are proud to highlight two of their stories here.

Photo - Mary & Sonia

Mary and Sonia

First, a little background on Brunette Machinery Co Inc.

Brunette Machine Works Ltd., incorporated in 1942, manufactured machines for the forestry industry. In 2013, Kirk Forbes, with partners, formed Brunette Machinery Co. Inc. Brunette moved its head office staff and operations from New Westminster, BC to Surrey, BC.  Read more about our history.

Last year, Brunette Machinery Co. celebrated its 75th anniversary and today has an office staff of fourteen people — seven of them women:

Airlie, our Buyer/Engineering Production Coordinator has worked at Brunette for 24 years.
Colleen has worked at Brunette for 15 years. She is our Inventory Manager.
Kristy, our Sales Assistant, has been here for 13 years.
Mary started working for Brunette in our Toronto office. Currently she is the Branch Manager of our Prince George facility.
Sonia, our Parts Sales Manager has been working at Brunette for 42 years.

The newest members of Team Brunette are:
Cathy, who joined the team as Media and Marketing Coordinator in April, 2018, and,
Tammy, the new Production Assistant in Prince George. She joined us in February of this year.

Sonia’s story:

I started at Brunette on September 8, 1977.  The job — filing and office work — was a temporary position for 2 weeks of vacation relief. Eventually, the position became full time and I settled into an office assistant job at what was then, Brunette Machine Works.

In 1993, a permanent position in parts sales opened up and I applied. We agreed on a 3-month probation period. Since I had been working at Brunette for quite sometime, I thought “How hard could it be?” I was so wrong!

The job was very stressful and demanding — I had 2 small children at that time and combined with the intensity of learning new skills, I felt exhausted by the end of each day.

Fortunately, Hans Menzel, the Service Manager, took me under his wing and patiently answered my many questions. When new equipment arrived in the shop, we would go over it together and I would ask many more questions.

As my confidence built, I relaxed into my role, enjoyed the busyness of the days and learned the ins and outs of the big machines we built.

I have been told “it’s a man’s world” in the forest industry, but over the years, I feel like I have kicked that wall down and have earned the respect of the maintenance planners, purchasers and millwrights that I work with. Now, I receive calls from buyers who trust that I will deliver the exact parts they need even if they don’t have the part numbers!

Times are changing and I know more women who are maintenance planners, purchasers and mill workers pulling on wrenches. Good job, ladies! It isn’t all a man’s world now.

Over the years at Brunette, I have held several positions — but Part Sales Manager has been the most rewarding. I have earned the respect of my colleagues and customers and, along the way, I have made many lasting friendships.

As I approach my retirement years, I am hoping to find someone to work with me to learn the ropes and who will enjoy the job as much as I do.

My father worked all his life in this industry — I was brought up on forestry dollars and in turn, my children have been brought up on forestry dollars. This industry has been good to me and I feel proud of everything I have learned and accomplished.

But, never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would still be employed by Brunette 42 years later!

A big shout out to Hans Menzel — for answering all my questions, for investing his time in teaching me, for believing in me and for showing me that I could be successful in my position. Also, a heartfelt thank you, to Kirk Forbes, President of Brunette Machinery, for his belief in me and his continued support.

Mary’s Story:

I’ve worked for Brunette Machinery since January 1983.  The team at Brunette made it easy for me to stay all these years.  Brunette has a supportive and flexible management that afforded me the opportunity to change my hours when my kids were little, giving me time that I needed for my children and family.

This is a male-dominated industry and I have felt at times the need to prove myself. But generally, I’ve found it to be a non-issue, because I know our products well and can discuss them with our customers knowledgably and professionally.

Brunette’s company policy puts the issue of a balanced environment in perspective and treats everyone fairly. As Branch Manager, I am responsible for taking action, getting answers and making decisions. I don’t wait for anyone to tell me, be it a man or a woman.

I’m proud and happy to be a woman in today’s society.