Help us Support LD 1373

May 13th, 2015

The Professional Logging Contractors of Maine (PLC) has been working with Eastern Maine Community College (EMCC), Northern Maine Community College (NMCC) and Washington County Community College (WCCC), to develop a first of its kind post-secondary Mechanical Forest Operator Training Program model that will be accessible throughout the State of Maine. The proposed non-credit certificate program, which will be offered on a rotating basis at different locations throughout northern and eastern Maine, has been designed to produce professional equipment operators with the knowledge and skills that are necessary to fulfill industry vacancies in mechanical forest operations. See attached for an overview of the proposed program.

To get this ambitious program off the ground, the PLC and the three community college partners have been working on a funding strategy with other industry partners and a bi-partisan group of Maine legislators, including leadership from the Maine House of Representatives as well as the Maine Senate. Speaker of the House, Mark Eves, has made the needs of the logging industry a priority throughout his jobs tour earlier this year and has worked with other legislative leaders, including House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, House Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon, and Assistant Senate Majority Leader Andre Cushing to craft legislation which will help get this program off the ground in late 2015. LD 1373, An Act to Create the Put ME to Work Program, is a bi-partisan effort by members of the Maine Legislature to assist the logging industry train the next generation of logging operators that are desperately needed throughout the State. If successful, this bill will provide operational funding for the next two years to get this important program off the ground.

The support of the Maine Legislature could not come at a more critical time. Not only is the logging industry in desperate need of new operators to run complex machinery, but the industry has also stepped up to provide its support for this program. In addition to the endorsement of the PLC of Maine, two weeks ago, one of this country’s largest equipment manufacturers, committed to provide $1.2 million of equipment if the State can provide the operational funding that is required to get this program off the ground. This kind of industry support is not only an endorsement of this educational approach but a recognition of the logging industry as a critical component of the Maine economy.

On Monday, May 18th, 9:30am in the Committee on Labor, Commerce Research and Economic Development, Cross Office Building, Room 208, Augusta, a public hearing has been scheduled to debate the merits of this bill. It is vital for the PLC membership, our supporting members and other industry partners to testify in support of this legislation.

Please let us know if you will be able to attend the hearing on Monday so we can keep a running list of who will be in attendance.

http://legislature.maine.gov/bills/display_ps.asp?PID=1456&snum=127&paper=HP0932

Dana Doran- Executive Director PLC: 207-688-8195 or executivedirector@maineloggers.com

CC Mechanized Harvesting Operator Program

LD 1373

Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) celebrates 20th Anniversary

May 5th, 2015

PLC of Maine Raises $20,000 to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals

BANGOR – The Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine celebrated its 20th anniversary May 1 at the association’s Annual Meeting, raising approximately $20,000 for the Log A Load for Kids Foundation to benefit Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

Founded in 1995 with a handful of members who were concerned about the future of the industry, the PLC has grown steadily to become a statewide trade association which provides independent logging contractors a voice in the rapidly changing forest products industry. Board membership consists of only loggers, making it an organization that is run by loggers on behalf of loggers. PLC members employ nearly 2,500 people and are responsible for 75 percent of the timber that is harvested from Maine’s forests annually.

“The PLC represents the fabric that the State of Maine was built on,” said, Dana Doran, Executive Director of the PLC. “Although many challenges lie ahead, the future is bright for Maine’s highly adaptive, talented and evolving logging industry. The PLC has made some significant strides on behalf of loggers in the past 20 years and it is poised to continue to work on behalf of loggers throughout the state for years to come.”

PLC members are well known for their generosity in supporting charitable causes benefiting children, and this year was no exception. In addition to the fund-raising auctions and donations held during the course of the day, the PLC also welcomed this year’s Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) “Champion Child,” during a midday luncheon.

Log A Load For Kids is an annual campaign which encourages loggers and others in the forest products community to donate the value of one load of logs, or any amount, to local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Log A Load For Kids is a national leader in CMN fundraising. For more information, or to donate funds to a CMN-affiliated hospital in your area, please visit www.logaload.org.

Since Log A Load began in 1988, the campaign has raised over $41 million dollars for children in need of medical treatment at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The PLC funds raised will benefit the program at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor.

The PLC Annual Meeting included review of an economic impact study on logging conducted by the University of Maine and a session with paper mill company representatives to discuss ways the mills can collaborate with PLC contractors to work toward mutual benefits.

The Annual Meeting concluded with an awards ceremony honoring outstanding loggers and supporters of the logging industry in Maine.

Awards presented included:

▪ The Acadia Insurance Safety Award, presented to Comstock Woodlands of Hampden. Founded by the late Harold Bouchard to fill the void created by the closing of Great Northern Paper’s logging camps in northern Maine, Comstock, now led by Harold’s son Brian and grandson Jeff, is a model operation spread across 12 townships and 250,000 acres, harvesting more than 100,000 tons annually and maintaining more than 100 miles of roads. The company boasts an aggressive safety program and Comstock’s slogan, “Safely Driven, Excellence Delivered,” highlights the importance of safety to the company.

▪ The PLC Impact Award, presented to Senator Andre Cushing, Assistant Majority Leader of the Maine State Senate. Senator Cushing is currently serving his second term in the Maine Senate representing District 10. Senator Cushing has been a small business owner for more than 30 years, and currently operates New England Forest Products, with several locations throughout Maine. Senator Cushing has taken on a prominent role in the state legislature on behalf of logging contractors, speaking in support of the industry on numerous occasions and sponsoring three pieces of legislation on behalf of the PLC.

▪ The PLC Community Service Award, presented to Steve Madden from SF Madden Logging of Greenbush. Mr. Madden is a long-time PLC member, a Master Logger, and a third-generation logger who has worked in the business for more than 40 years. Mr. Madden is president of the Maine State Truck and Tractor Pullers Association. As strong supporters of the Log A Load for Kids annual campaign for many years, Mr. Madden and his wife, Lois, took on the role of gathering prizes for the Log A Load for Kids golf tournament in Maine beginning in 2002, and have dedicated countless hours to this task since then as well as the task of organizing, supporting, and participating in the tournament.

▪ The PLC Supporting Member of the Year Award, presented to Barry Equipment, Inc. of Webster, Massachusetts. Jack Barry and his son, Tom, founded the business in 1985 and after 30 years in business Barry Equipment is still a family company run by Tom Barry and his wife, Trish. The company began by selling Clark Skidders and today sells and services Peterson chippers and grinders, Doosan Equipment, and Rotobec grapples and loaders throughout New England and New York. The company’s dedication to customer service is second to none and Barry Equipment has given strong support to the PLC by sponsoring safety training for members in 2014 and 2015.

▪ The PLC Logging Contractor of the Year Award, presented to Voisine Brothers, Inc. of Fort Kent, Maine. Brothers Ben and Joe Voisine established Voisine Brothers in 1999 as a two-man, first generation logging company. Within five years the brothers had asked their father, Gary, to join the company as a third partner, added a second complete harvesting system, and increased their total employment to more than 10. In 2010, Voisine Bros’ became Master Logger Certified and a year later joined the PLC. Today, the company has three harvesting systems, seven machines, 18 employees, and harvests more than 100,000 tons of logs annually. In 2014 the company was responsible for the restarting of a logging training program at their local technical high school to produce the next generation of operators for the industry. Gary Voisine has played a significant role on the steering committee for the Northern Maine Forestry Cluster, an economic development initiative attempting to remove barriers for the forest economy in northern Maine.

▪ The President’s Award, presented to Andy Irish of Irish Family Logging. Mr. Irish is a Peru native, logging contractor, Master Logger, and established Irish Family Logging in 1984 with only a cable skidder and chainsaws. In 2000, Irish Family Logging became fully mechanized in the same year Andy’s son, Jason, joined the company full-time. In 2010 Mr. Irish’s son-in-law, Dean, also became a full-time participant in the business. Throughout his career, Mr. Irish has taken the role of giving back to his community and to the industry very seriously, and has served on the boards of both the Northeastern Loggers Association and the American Loggers Council, playing a key role on the latter in helping the Council on issues including Master Loggers Certification, truck weights on the federal interstate highway system, visa applications for forest workers, and Canadian lumber tariffs.

In 1995, Mr. Irish was a founding member of the PLC and has served the organization in many ways, including serving as its only treasurer for 20 years.

Learn more about the PLC at www.maineloggers.com.

Logging in the Spotlight on Western Maine Jobs Tour

March 30th, 2015

Logging in the spotlight on Western Maine jobs tour
Lawmakers visit Region 9 School of Applied Technology, thriving logging company

MEXICO – State lawmakers toured a career and technical school and a thriving logging company on Monday, as part of the statewide jobs tour led by House Speaker Mark Eves.

“We had a chance to see first hand how new technology is transforming Maine’s traditional logging industry and its workforce,” said Eves, D-North Berwick. “We spoke with students who are landing good-paying jobs in growing industries all because they were able to get the training they needed. Investing in training our students and workers is key to our state’s economic success.”

The jobs tour gives lawmakers the opportunity to talk to workers, employers and community officials about growing good jobs and strong wages. Speaker Eves, House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe of Skowhegan and Assistant Majority Leader Sara Gideon of Freeport joined area lawmakers for the stop in Western Maine at the Region 9 School of Applied Technology and the Nicols Brothers’ logging company.

“The logging industry has changed so much with new technology,” said Jim Nicols, owner of the Nicols Brothers’ logging company in Rumford. “It is no longer walking into the woods with a lunch pail. We need workers to have extensive training on complex machines.”

Nicols told lawmakers that the Region 9 school was important for growing his company. He and his brother started the company in 1979 and they employ 25 people. Eight of their employees trained at the Region 9 school.

Rep. Matt Petterson of Rumford said investing in more training at the school and other schools like it was important for the area, which has struggled during the economic recovery.

“The state should invest in training. The return is good jobs and strong wages for our state. It’s a win for everyone,” said Rep. Peterson.

Eves is proposing a statewide investment of $5 million over five years to create at least 10 public-private partnerships to support job training in high-demand fields. The measure would also fund scholarships for workers and students to gain the skills they need to fill jobs in growing sectors, including agriculture, high skilled manufacturing, information technology and health care.

Dana Doran, who heads the association of Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, urged lawmakers to bolster investment in training for the Forest Products Industry.

The Region 9 program is one of only four forestry programs in the state, despite Maine’s status as being the most forested state in the nation.

“Our school is helping to create a pipeline for local businesses and meeting the needs of a thriving Maine industry,” said Brenda Gammon, the director of the Region 9 School of Applied Technology. “Our students are getting good jobs right after they finish training.”

Senator John Patrick of Rumford praised the school and the Nicols company for the opportunity they have offered for area workers and students.

“If we want our economy to succeed, we have to stand up for our workers,” said Senator Patrick. “Workers are the backbone of our state and our products are only as good as the hard-working people who make them.”

Speaker Eves launched the jobs tour in January to spotlight the need for more jobs and better wages in the state. Lawmakers have met with employers, workers, and community leaders across the state in York, Aroostook, Kennebec, and Somerset counties.

Maine’s economy lags behind the nation, with a significant jobs gap and stagnating wages. Maine would have 19,000 more jobs now if the state were keeping up with the national recovery. Maine’s wages are 20 percent lower, on average, than wages across the United States – even those states with similar demographics like Vermont and New Hampshire have higher average wages.

20th Annual Meeting- May 1st

March 25th, 2015

Dear PLC Supporters,

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine, I would like to invite you to attend our 20th Annual Meeting, May 1st, 2015 in Brewer…Celebrating 20 Years! A History of Collaboration !
Please join us for our Annual Meeting to learn and network with other professional loggers as we celebrate our past twenty years of collaboration!

The Morning Session is only for PLC members. During this time, we will: conduct a general membership meeting, review our legislative agenda, learn from the University of Maine regarding a proposed logging economic impact study and Acadia Insurance will let us know how the dividend program performed in 2014.

Paper Mill Company Representatives from Catalyst, Expera, Madison Paper, SAPPI and Verso will also attend our morning meeting and discuss ways that they can collaborate with PLC contractors to work toward mutual benefits in the future.

During our Luncheon, which is open to all PLC Members and Supporting Members, we will meet the Children’s Miracle Network, Champion Child, and hear about the Maine Healthy Forest Program and Harvest Satisfaction Survey from Andy Schultz and Jan Santerre of the Maine Forest Service.

After lunch we have arranged for Farm Credit East to provide an overview of their new counseling services.
To help the Children’s Miracle Network raise money, our Log-A-Load Auction Social is next on the agenda. If you are unable to attend, you can still encourage your vendors, employees, family members and friends to donate to help raise money for this terrific cause! The auction will also be online this year!
Below, please find a meeting registration form and a LIVE and Silent auction donation form. If you have any questions, contact our new membership services coordinator, Jessica Clark at jessica@maineloggers.com or call 688-8195.
Thanks for supporting the PLC of Maine and I look forward to seeing all of you on May 1st!

Annual Meeting Invite 2015

As We See It: Inspiration

March 25th, 2015

April 2015

Myles AndersonBy Myles Anderson, ALC President

Have you ever thought what it would be like to wake up one morning to the reality of having lost your job, lost all the infrastructure that once supported your job and wonder how your community and your family would survive? Fast forward to the reality of today, the living wage jobs are long gone and your community is dependent on government aid rather than the vibrant economy that once flourished there. Rural families throughout the United States living adjacent to nationally owned forests, where once a thriving industry harvested and manufactured renewable resources have been forced into living this reality for the last 15 years. The Forest that was once managed to minimize fuel loading, create jobs and provide revenue for the local communities is now an overstocked and tinder dry fuel source or worse, a sea of blackened snags.

This government aid that communities have come to rely is known as the secure rural school act (SRS). The SRS act monetarily supports communities and is meant to substitute for all the jobs that were lost as a result of our government’s decision to stop managing the lands surrounding these communities. Historically these rural communities received a portion of the receipts from Forest service timber sales and more importantly the jobs and lifestyle that went along with living in a vibrant community. The SRS is critical for many rural communities. This act funds over 775 rural Counties and 4,400 schools. The secure rural schools act was first passed in 2000 and since then every year these counties have come to rely on this funding for their very existence. The sad truth is there is no certainty from year to year associated with the funding.

Each year families in these communities wait on Congress to decide whether or not their basic needs will be funded through a bill or resolution. Usually these funds are held hostage by one party or another because of unrelated issues. A commonsense approach to this issue would be to put this effort into restoring the economic viability of these communities through increased forest management. Perhaps this is too simplistic an approach to solving this problem; however, I believe that a majority of people in this Country are beginning to realize our federally owned forests are in a state of declining health. Most are very supportive of green fire breaks, removing the dead and dying trees and managing the fuel load. Our federal forests could and should be managed in a sustainable way creating jobs and strong communities rather than waiting for the inevitable fire. The best measure of the cost of these catastrophic fires is in air quality impacts, the destruction of critical habitat, the deterioration of water quality and the numerous animal welfare (habitat) issues.

According to the USDA in regards to the forest service “Our mission, as set forth by law, is to achieve quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people”. I propose this question, do you feel the national forests and in turn our rural communities are in a better position environmentally and socially now then we were 20 years ago when the Forest Service was actually managing our forests? There is a difference between conservation and preservation, and the fact that managed timberland has many benefits both environmentally and socially should not be overlooked when describing the difference.

Many ideas are floating around Washington DC on how best to facilitate a new direction within the United States Forest Service. Perhaps it will require legislation that charts a new course, or a change in leadership to get the agency back on track or even a return to common sense that places management back into the hands of the professionals who are trained to manage the forests, not the liberal courtrooms with their own agendas who opt to side with radical environmental organizations who continue to thrive off of the settlements and awards offered through the Equal Access to Justice Act.

ALC Logo colorWhat is important is that Washington DC hears from constituents on how important it is to utilize our natural resources for both the environmental benefits and the social benefits. I for one would like to go to work each day and support my family in an industry that relies on a renewable resource, rather than reliving the nightmare of congressional consent every year. When deciding as to what should benefit from federal forests I would ask that human beings be a prime consideration as we deliberate.

Myles Anderson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his father Mike own and operate Anderson Logging, Inc. based out of Fort Bragg, CA.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As We See It: Inspiration

February 10th, 2015

March 2015

Mike AlbrechtBy Mike Albrecht, 2014 American Loggers Council Activist of the Year

It is a distinct privilege to address all of you great loggers through the American Loggers Council Newsletter. I’d like to start my comments with an abbreviated version of a speech I’ve written for President Obama, or Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, or anyone in a high ranking office that can muster an audience. It goes something like this:

“America is truly a country of great achievement. Nothing underscores this more than a quick review of some facts. America leads the world in food production. Today, U.S. farmers export 45% of their wheat, 34% of their soybeans and 71% of their almonds. In 2011, U.S. farmers produced $388 billion of goods, with approximately one third of that being exported. America truly helps feed the world.

             In the 1970’s, America decided it was time to shed its reliance on foreign oil. The American people said, “Enough is enough,” and Washington was listening. Today America is undergoing a revolution in energy production, a revolution so dynamic that the International Energy Agency predicts that the U.S. will surpass Russia and Saudi Arabia as the world’s top oil producer by the end of this year.

             America’s pride of achievement is showcased in so many other fields, including space exploration, medicine, and athletic prowess.

             Today I’d like to issue a challenge to an industry that helped build this country, an industry that produced the railroad ties that linked our country together, and provides the raw material that builds our homes, our schools, and our offices. Today, this great industry, the timber industry, is languishing. America leads in exporting so many goods and services to the world, and yet is now the second leading importer of lumber in the world (we were number one up until 2012, when China became the leading importer). California, the Golden State, blessed with over 33 million acres of forestland imports over 75% of its wood products.

             How can this be? One third of our nation is covered in forestland. We have arguably the best growing climate for timber production in the world. Our timber industry is second to none when it comes to technological know-how and work ethic.

             When the American people put their heart and soul into something, they achieve it. It’s time to bring homegrown timber products back to our hardware stores and lumberyards. If we all work together, America can become a leading exporter of timber-related goods and services. We should not accept anything less.” 2011 ALC logo b&w

If that speech was given, could we rise to the challenge of retooling and expanding our industry? Does the United States have access to enough homegrown timber to feed our annual lumber appetite of 40 – 65 billion board feet a year? The answer is, “Yes we do – in spades.”

According to data from the Western Wood Products Association and the Forest Service Inventory and Analysis Group, the standing net volume in America’s forests is approaching 2.25 trillion board feet. Annual growth on this inventory is approximately 150 billion board feet. This easily meets our nation’s lumber demand. The truth is, the United States has 750 million acres of forestland growing enough timber to meet our own lumber needs, export billions of board feet to other countries, while continually adding inventory to our forests.

In addition to prodigious timber growth, two-thirds of our nation’s drinking water comes from our forests. On average, once acre of trees annually consumes the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent to that produced by driving an average car for 26,000 miles. That same acre of trees also produces enough oxygen for 18 people to breathe for a year.

Economically, there is no better investment than forestry. Every $1 million invested in forestry creates approximately 40 jobs. That is almost double the next highest investment sector of mass transit and freight rail construction where $1 million invested creates approximately 22 jobs.

Unfortunately, these facts are not what I hear talked about at the landing, at coffee shops, or at conventions and meetings. Instead, it’s usually acres burned, mills closed, government regulations, environmental lawsuits, and jobs lost. The Associated California Loggers just finished our annual meeting. At an evening banquet, my wife, Vicki, looked around the room of 250 plus folks and said, “Wow, there are a lot of young people here.” There were indeed young loggers and their wives, many sitting with their moms and dads.

These young people are hungry for inspiration, and our association, the American Loggers Council, must remain the prime source of that inspiration. We need to talk more about acres harvested, mills reopened, new laws to support our industry, and environmental groups that support our goal of healthy forests.

For the older generation, our charge is to inspire this new generation of loggers to continue not only to work hard and smart, but to understand and promote the proud and positive facts about our forests and our industry. Let’s face it, if we are going to rejuvenate America’s timber industry, it will be on their watch. With their help, America can trade the stigma of being a leading lumber importer with her overgrown forests burning to the ground, for the pride of supplying lumber to the world.

Mike Albrecht is co-owner of Sierra Resource Management, Inc., located in Jamestown, California. Mike was selected as the American Loggers Council National Logger Activist of the Year in 2014. For more information, please contact the ALC office at 409-625-0206 or e-mail at americanlogger@aol.com.

As We See It: Better Business Practices

February 10th, 2015

February 2015

Myles AndersonBy Myles Anderson, ALC President

Being in the logging business has always meant long hours away from home, hard work and a special fulfillment associated with accomplishing things most couldn’t dream of. As a business owner regardless of the industry, there are specific items that demand attention; cost of operations, a safe work environment, well maintained equipment, productive employees, just to mention a few. At times regardless of the amount of attention paid, problems can occur and a business owner must be prepared to deal with them.   Unfortunately there are also cases where less than honest business practices can prevent an honest business owner from being able to compete on a level playing field.

Operating in one of the most dangerous industries in the country forces any good business managers to closely watch all business practice that adds to their overall liability. Any business in the Timber Harvesting industry should be a Corporation, LLC or some other structure that would limit an owner’s personal liability. If your business is not classified in this manner, it would be well worth your while to look into making a change. If you use subcontractors for falling timber, hauling logs or other activities then a well thought out and legally binding Subcontractor Agreement must be in place. If your Insurance companies have not already talked to you about this then I would contact them or your State Association for more information on the subject.

Understanding the legalities of a subcontractor’s role in your business is very important information, and at the end of the day, knowledge and the associated response are the things that separate a successful business from the others. A subcontractor is not privileged to the benefits that your company may give to employees such as health care, retirement, your workman’s compensation coverage or coverage under your liability insurance policy. A subcontractor is told where to do the work but not how to do it, and must possess the necessary tools required for the job. Ignoring the legality of this responsibility may in the short term provide an advantage in securing work, in the long run when the lawyers, insurance companies and injured third parties have their day in court, I for one would not want to hide behind ignorance of the law as my defense.

A fair bid process is one that would put cost control and production as the primary factors that dictate the outcome; however that is not always the case. Understanding the law and the liability associated with having subcontractors working for you is critical. As a business owner you cannot provide tools to a subcontractor to perform a service and at the same time enjoy the benefits of a subcontractor relationship, the same is true for the entity you may work for.ALC Logo color

As the need for fiber increases, and we all hope it does, the path to get our products to consumers will be an interesting one. Laws have been put in place and continue to govern us as a country however some businesses tend to operate with comfort in the grey area. As an industry it seems the timber harvesting community has always put their heads down and worked harder and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, assuming they are compensated appropriately. Fiber supply and consuming businesses are operated for a profit, just as we the producers do, some do it legally and some operate in the grey area.

Business practices are merely decisions that are made by individuals and if your business is run in the most ethical way you know, then you can look yourself in the mirror every day and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. I like to believe that in most cases, the CEOs of the companies that operate in the grey area are not completely aware of what is going on under them. One can only hope that these people that cannot look in the mirror with pride will be replaced with managers that can. Unethical business practices are not a sustainable business model. If we are to succeed as an industry it will be due to our character, the trust we have established and positive working relationships.

 Myles Anderson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his father Mike own and operate Anderson Logging, Inc. based out of Fort Bragg, CA.

As We See It: Experience Matters

December 6th, 2014

January 2015

Myles AndersonBy Myles Anderson, ALC President

Logging equipment can come in all different sizes, shapes, colors and ages. Equipment can be old, new, dirty or clean. Machines can cut down trees, skid them, process them and put them on a truck, but one thing they all have in common is that they need a skilled operator to make them productive.

Daily costs may vary across the country depending on what kind of logging is taking place but production is what drives cost, and everyone must be concerned with cost of production. Cost can be measured per ton or thousand board feet, but in either case production is the most important factor and it can be tracked right back to the quality and experience of employees operating the equipment.

Logging has shifted towards mechanization across the country and employing and retaining experienced equipment operators is a necessity, however they are also a necessity to the construction, oil and gas, and any other industry whose business requires the use of heavy equipment.

Anyone who has operated equipment knows what level of coordination and concentration is required to run an excavator or a bulldozer, but what about a processor that falls, limbs and bucks a tree to very tight tolerances. Tolerances that if not met may result in penalties, and loss of revenue. Are the people that are operating these highly sophisticated and expensive machines compensated more than someone that operates an excavator on a highway project?

A little research on the Bureau of Labor Statistics paints a pretty clear picture of where we have been. The data is a little sketchy prior to 1999 so let’s use that as a starting point for comparison. In 1999 the mean annual income for a logging equipment operator was $25,390. Fast forward to 2013 and the mean annual income for the same operator was $34,700. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also had an inflation calculator and when the 1999 wage of $25,390 was plugged in out came a 2013 wage of $35,502, showing that we have not even kept up with inflation. We are paying operators less today then we were in 1999 and the equipment is much more complex to operate.

For comparison a construction equipment operator in the same tables was making $34,760 in 1999 and $48,605 in 2013. Good, hardworking productive employees are going to go where they are best compensated for their work; this is why we constantly hear about logging companies trying to train new equipment operators in house. Conversations are abundant about the rising cost of fuel, insurance, and equipment but what we should be talking about is how we can pay our employees more so that they will stay in the forest products industry. Hard working men and women have a distinct trait that cannot be taught, and if not appreciated and compensated for those traits, they often go somewhere else2011 ALC logo b&w.

In a fantasy world we could simply print money as is the case with our Federal government. The change in SIC code 901 for federal employee’s shows the median annual income in 1999 was $43,600 and in 2013 it rose to $71,700. Inflation during the period would put their 1999 wage at $60,950 in 2013. Next time a federal employee tells you how hard they are working you can remind them that they are getting well compensated for that work.

Loggers are being asked to increase production as our economy slowly improves. As the number of inexperienced people entering the work force grows; so will our exposure to accidents and possibly poor public perception of the industry. Productivity losses resulting in higher production costs may also be experienced unless we train and retain good employees. Our industry will be much better served by keeping the experienced employees we currently have and augmenting them with new, trained, professional and reliable employees. How this industry deals with their employees will, for good or bad, reflect on each of us. If we do not work together to attract and retain employees with pay rates that are comparable to similar trades, we will continue to lose good people to higher paying industries.

 

 Myles Anderson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his father Mike own and operate Anderson Logging, Inc. based out of Fort Bragg, CA.

 The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As We See It: Perception

November 26th, 2014

December 2014

Myles AndersonBy Myles Anderson, ALC President

Perception is complex constructions of simple elements joined through association and is subject to the influence of learning. Perception can result from a catastrophic event or a description provided by someone you trust.

When it comes to professional timber harvesters, perception is all over the board. Absent education, a bad or false perception will linger forever. There are many people in this country that would be content if trees were never harvested again; they are comfortable in their perception that boards come from the lumber yards, not from the forest.

The United States has more forested acres today than 100 years ago; this can be credited to many factors including our industries interest in sustainability. Few people understand this and education is needed to change this perception. Our industry has done a poor job of educating the public whether by word or deed. During this same period the environmental industry has done a great job distorting the facts and fueling their coffers on people’s emotions.

If in fact environmental standards were the leading factor governing fiber purchase, the public would demand a halt to fiber importation into this country. The general public seems to like the idea of the regulatory environment we are burdened with as they approve of all these layers of Government oversight. The market place proves that they are equally concerned with the cost of the products we produce. This leaves our industry trying to figure out how to cover the cost associated with these regulations and continue to compete in a worldwide market. Many simple things can be done to help the public better understand how our industry supplies fiber to the market place in an environmentally sound manner. The public needs to recognize we operate under the most stringent rules anywhere in the world.2011 ALC logo b&w

Loggers are stubborn people, overly optimistic, and for some odd reason relish doing things others say can’t be done.   Forty years ago working harder could bring about positive results, but that is not necessarily true anymore. Loggers today spend too much time concerned with where the next job will come from, instead of what all businesses should be concerned with, whether or not it makes good business sense to take it. Our concern over “surviving” until the next job or logging season distract us from the real need to educate the public in order to retain our “social” license to operate.

Perception can be influenced through education and it is up to us because we understand what it takes to harvest timber in this country. First, we need to insure that our fellow loggers all have the best business tools to deal with the environment we are working in. Second the timber harvesting community needs to educate everyone we come in contact with on exactly what it is that we do, the quality of our work, and the reasons we do it. No one else is going to do this for us, so we must be proactive when it comes to educating others and don’t let these opportunities slip by. We, after all, are the ones that cut down the trees, making it is easy to point a finger at us and call us the bad guys. The public needs to understand that we do it while meeting burdensome environmental regulations and all of the other associated rules and regulations that go into operating a business in this country. We are a lucky industry because we work with renewable resources that if managed correctly will be around forever, not all industries can say the same.

With the holidays upon us I hope it gives the timber harvesting community time to think about where our industry is, and where we are going. I hope that consideration will be given to educating others this coming year on exactly what it is we do out in the woods each and every day. We can be a community that cuts down trees or we can be a dedicated industry of environmental stewards working hard to sustain a renewable resource and provide jobs that ensure livelihoods to families and communities. Perception means a lot to children and adults seeking more information on this subject and we need to do a better job of educating everyone, including those we work for, on what it is we do.

Happy Holidays.

Myles Anderson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his father Mike own and operate Anderson Logging, Inc. based out of Fort Bragg, CA.

 

As We See It: 20 Years and Counting

October 28th, 2014

November 2014

Myles AndersonBy Myles Anderson, ALC President

Twenty Years ago cell phones were sold as bags and could only make calls, the U.S. Forest Service harvested almost 5 Billion Board Feet and the American Loggers Council was formed by 40 upset Loggers in St. Louis, Missouri. While much has changed over the years, the willingness of many Loggers to represent the thousands across the Country has not waivered and continues to build the American Loggers Council into a great organization.

The twentieth annual meeting of the American Loggers Council held in Escanaba Michigan has come and gone. A special presentation was made to all of the former Presidents and it allowed for each to say their piece about the formation and the path of the ALC. Mike Crouse from Loggers World spoke very descriptively of the first meeting, and the trials and tribulations that went into forming the ALC. There was much to reflect on with the 20 year history and clearly some of the issues that brought Loggers together then are still bringing them together today. The ALC has grown in its 20 years and I hope that we can continue that growth moving forward, building strength and increasing our umbrella as “the National Voice for Professional Loggers.”

We must all continue working to make the Timber Harvesting portion of our industry a profession.   There are many in our industry that are happy to sit by and let others do this work for them, but I believe through the growth and understanding of ALC that this will change. I hope that as more Timber Harvesting Professionals come to understand what the ALC is about their participation will increase. Our strength is in a common message supported by large numbers, and we must continue to build alliances with other National Organizations. The ability to be active at the National level is in each of our own hands as Professional Loggers in this Country. The American Loggers Council has, through great leadership, become a strong organization with many doors opening to it; however, it needs the support of all the fiber producing States to be as strong as possible.ALC Logo color

There was a panel at this year’s meeting that put 3 loggers at the table, one from Florida, one from Michigan and one from California. The questions revolved around what the loggers thought were opportunities and what were threats to their ability to successfully operate a logging business. The threats occupied much of the discussion and were focused on regulation, workforce and markets. While the geographic location of the loggers was much different, the threats were very similar. While we all have regional issues there are many issues facing Loggers on a National level. This National stage is where the ALC can help so long as we are united.

Moving forward the ALC has many issues that are being worked on and many more that we hope to be working on soon. The ALC continues to be requested for testimony by various committees in Washington DC as issues arise that will impact fiber production in this country.

The ALC is knee deep in legislation, meetings, conference calls and everything else as we fight off the constant barrage of issues coming out of Washington DC. This work is vitally important to our industry, but cannot be done without the financial assistance of the ALC’s great Sponsors. Please go to our Web Site, www.americanloggers.org, to see a list of the Sponsors that contribute to the ALC which in turn allows us to represent Loggers in Washington, DC. If you do business with any of these Sponsors please thank them, as it is their support that allows for our activism.

If you are a Logger in a State with a Logging Association, I ask that you join it. If you are already a member of your State or Regional Logging Association, thank you. If your state does not have an association then join the American Loggers Council as an Individual Logger Member and stand with us. I look forward to working with all the great leaders in this industry that are currently involved with the ALC and hopefully some new ones in the coming year as we continue to build our strength as Professional Timber Harvesters. Please stand with us and be heard, if our industry is to prosper we must increase our activism.

Myles Anderson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his father Mike own and operate Anderson Logging, Inc. based out of Fort Bragg, CA.

The American Loggers Council is a non-profit 501(c) (6) corporation representing professional timber harvesters in 30 states across the US. For more information, visit their web site at www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.


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