HALCO was founded in 1988, but our history goes back much further – to H.A. Leach and Company Ltd., which was founded in 1970 – almost 50 years ago!
Howard Leach (1933-2016), the founder of HALCO, was a chemical engineer who developed his computer programming and optimization skills working for IBM and Imperial Chemical Industries in England. There he developed a linear programming model of a huge oil and petrochemical complex.
He began applying his computer programming and optimization skills to the North American forest industry in 1968. He started to develop the SAWSIM® program in 1970, as a means of calculating lumber yields for optimization modelling purposes. The initial development was to simulate sawing of large logs with crook, sweep and variable taper, for a variety of products on a carriage-type headrig. Quite a challenge at the time! The program was soon used to show the potential benefits of optical scanning systems, and better log bucking and alignment in machines. SAWSIM® has been continuously updated since then, to reflect changes in technology and operating practices in the industry.
After founding HALCO in 1988, Howard was joined by Tim Sargeant and Brad Turner and later, by Alex Rapoport, as principals, and the company developed from there. In the 1990's, much of our development was directed to the simulation of woodlands and panel operations, to allow us to provide integrated analysis of operations from the forest to logs, through to finished products.
Howard retired from active involvement in the company in 2010. In 2018 Tim Sargeant retired and Alex Gerbrandt came on as a principal.