The year 2013 marked another banner
installment for BioForest Technologies.
The Sault Ste. Marie company, which
manufactures a pesticide to help eradicate emerald ash borer, has had
strong sales since getting its full registration for use in Canada
last fall, and is working on new applications and innovations for the
Developed in 2001, TreeAzin is an
injectable organic pesticide manufactured from the Indian neem tree
that’s designed to combat the onset of emerald ash borer (EAB), the
emerald green beetle that destroys ash trees by burrowing into the
bark, eating the tree from the inside out and eventually killing it.
Demand for TreeAzin is strong, and new
uses for it are continually being examined.
“We get phone calls all the time
about a pest that isn’t on our label,” BioForest president Joe
Meating said. “We try to arrange to do a trial to test it, and if
we can demonstrate that it does work, and the folks in Ottawa agree
with our data, then we can add it to our label.”
For example, preliminary results from
tests done on the Asian longhorned beetle have been promising, and
BioForest has done trials and research on other applications with
partners in Nova Scotia, Wisconsin, Michigan and British Columbia.
A big achievement this year was the
commercialization of a new injection system that’s made it easier
to apply the product to infested trees.
Research and development was completed
at BioForest’s warehouse in Sault Ste. Marie. It works so well,
BioForest has started to eliminate some of the company’s business:
repairing the old system.
“It’s great that this system is
working well, to the point where we’re now going to begin selling
it in the U.S.,” Meating said. “We have the confidence that it’s
a good system and it can be used with minimal maintenance.”
Meating’s company is one example of
how research can translate into commercial application in Sault Ste.
Marie, which continues to house a concentration of expertise and
knowledge in invasive species. At the five-year-old Invasive Species
Research Institute (ISRI) at Algoma University, Pedro Antunes and his
team research invasive species management.
Meating is working with ISRI on a
project that’s trying to determine if TreeAzin has an effect on
fungal tree pathogens, which could impact another invasive, Dutch elm
It goes hand in hand with the work
researchers are doing at the Great Lakes Forestry Centre and the
Ontario Forest Research Institute, along with the Invasive Species
Centre, which opened the doors to its new building just two years
The centre, headed up by executive
director Dilhari Fernando, funds projects that have practical
applications for the public and practitioners such as foresters and
This year the centre will fund 24
projects designed to bring together various stakeholders. She’d
like to expand the current circle of experts in the field and build
relationships with new stakeholders, including the private sector,
other non-profit organizations and potentially international
organizations that are doing similar work.
“In the Sault there are so many
interesting things happening…I think there’s a real opportunity
there for an organization such as ours to start connecting up the
dots,” Fernando said. “What we’d like to do is be more
proactive and start to bring these people together and really
recognize that there are areas where there could be aligned projects
in the area of tourism or awareness with regards to invasive
Despite the success of TreeAzin,
Meating doesn’t want BioForest to put all its eggs in one basket.
“Sales are great, but when emerald ash borer’s gone, we have to
sustain the company and try to even out the annual revenue so it
doesn’t fluctuate,” he said.
Over the last year, BioForest has hired
a chief operating officer, administrative support and a marketing
specialist, in addition to bringing in a consultant to determine how
to move the company forward. BioForest has started doing online sales
and bringing in other products to add to its repertoire.
Meating estimates retail sales account
for 95 per cent of the company’s business, while just five years
ago, that number sat at 85 per cent.
“We’ve gone from a consulting
company to a retail company,” Meating said. “That’s been the
evolution, and it’s been a long transition in some respects, but
it’s been very incremental. It’s given us time to adapt.”