Vancouver ladder factory makes its last wooden ladder

January 18, 2021

By: The Working Forest Staff

CAPTION: Above, David Hernandez makes a ladder at Allright Ladder on Franklin Street. PHOTO BY JASON PAYNE /PNG

VANCOUVER SUN — Allright Ladder has been making wooden ladders in Vancouver for a century. But on Oct. 31, they stopped.

“To me, a wooden ladder is the best ladder you could ever want,” said Jim Norris, who co-owns Allright Ladder with Stuart Evans. “But it’s used by a certain (older)-age demographic. Young people have no idea what a wood ladder is. They go to the Home Depot and buy a fibreglass ladder when they have to be non-conductive or an aluminum ladder if they don’t have to be.”

There has also been a shift in the companies that sell ladders.

“2008 was one of our better years, and then came the big (economic) crash,” said Norris. “The electrical companies — the Westburnes, the Nedcos, the Eecols, Horsmans, etc. — used to move a lot of ladders. And finance (in the companies) said, ‘Don’t carry inventory in that.’ So production was cut by half through 2009, and from there it’s gone steadily down.

“Last year, it was probably 20 percent of the production we had in 2009. (But) property taxes continue to rise, and labour costs just keep going up. So eventually you’ve got to say, ‘This doesn’t make sense anymore.’”

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