Globally renowned ‘Green’ Entrepreneur
An award-winning global entrepreneur, Baljit Gill was born in India. Her father, a former Indian Army Officer, decided to immigrate to Canada with his family to provide them with international opportunities. In turn, Baljit fulfilled his desire and completed her studies in Business, in British Columbia.
Initially, the family faced many challenges with regard to cultural differences and racism. But Baljit found strength in her father and elder brother, who were real estate developers and construction contractors. Coming from this background, Baljit knew she wanted to enter the business world.
The adage ‘First attempts aren’t always successful’ proved right when her cosmetics business failed to take off, paving the way for her to successfully build spec homes. When a friend overseas needed to procure some hardwoods, it led to a partnership in a wood wholesale/export company. This eventually led Baljit to take over the Kitwanga Mill, in the Northern region of British Columbia.
Unfortunately, she had to sell the mill at a great loss in 2009, but the strong relationships forged became priceless as the years went by. It also exposed her to the challenges existing in Northern BC, which led her to work with Gitanyow First Nations with whom she had prior experience.
Baljit then presented a plan to First Nations to find a solution to a decadent old growth forest. This also became a project for creating many jobs, educational opportunities with transferable skill sets in the region, and brought many opportunities to the North West of British Columbia. In addition, her work contributed to the education of indigenous children.
“Business is run by people and my strategy is simple – listening to all our stakeholders and customers, and most importantly our team – and identifying what legacy we want to leave for the future generations. These are the ingredients that work for us and drive us to always look at diversification – Looking at opportunities in different regions while keeping in mind that the entire globe is our market,” reveals Baljit.
Every person’s life is full of challenges and no one is exempt from this. Baljit’s philosophy is simple – either one can sit and sulk, or get up and take action to make it better. The one way she maintains her sanity is by practicing SKY meditation by the Art of Living Foundation. She incorporates this practice in her daily routine which also includes some physical exercise and walks in the serene nature of British Columbia, which is something she cherishes very much.
This routine was disrupted when the advent of COVID-19. For Baljit, it was the first time she had a near-death experience. The knowledge that her parents needed her provided her with the determination to fight. However, she lost her father to the illness in 2020.
Her company – Northcrest Forest Products’s export business was also brought to a halt due to the lockdowns. This led to outsourcing with other countries to develop custom cut programs and to pursue new markets. Speaking of that time, Baljit says, “Never, never give up.” She fondly remembers Mr. Ted Roger’s words from an event where he said, “If you fall, don’t take it personally, just dust yourself and restart”. After all, self-doubt is always one’s greatest enemy and weakness. “Being human, it has been my weakness as well, but it also helps keep one’s ego in check. Recognizing one’s weakness is the key; face it and deal with it!” adds Baljit.
Baljit’s professional contribution is that she is constantly creating opportunities in a very depressed region of British Columbia. She states, “We are currently developing a green energy source (wood pellet plant) from rotting forests and wood waste so new trees can be planted and healthy forests can flourish. This is creating over 200 direct and indirect employment positions. As a company, we are committed to educational and stress management courses for the youth and the communities we work with.”
By successfully turning waste into green energy, Baljit is changing the region she works in. Her passion and inspiration for betterment of the environment and communities has turned this leading Canadian woman of Indian origin into a global business player. Some of her accomplishments include: Top 25 Exporter 2008 in Canada; Business Woman of the Year 2009 Canada; Nominee of Surrey Business Award and Stanford’s Who’s Who.
An inspiring personality, Baljit shares that everyone must believe in themselves, work hard, and never think that they know everything. Keeping doors open to learning and treating others well whilst keeping health at primary importance are some key factors to growth and success. She says, “Reach for the Sun and the Moon, even if you fall short, you will still have the stars!”