Posts Tagged ‘American Loggers Council’

As WE See It: Still Striving

Friday, January 10th, 2014

By Danny Dructor, ALC Executive Vice President

Twenty years ago, in 1994, a small group of professional loggers took a bold step and formed an organization called the American Loggers Council.  The coalescing issue that led them to the formation of the Council was the roll-out in that same year of the Sustainable Forestry Initiatives® Program.  It would seem while others were designing programs that would have direct impacts on logging businesses, those same people and organizations forgot to ask what the loggers themselves thought about the program and its impact on loggers.  These early leaders of the American Loggers Council thought that it was time that the loggers had a national, unified voice on these issues.

A mission statement for the ALC was formed and simply states:

The American Loggers Council is a national organization representing independent loggers formed to enhance the logging profession, provide a unified voice on logging issues, and cooperate with public, industrial, and private timberland owners to further sustainable forestry practices.

One of the primary goals of the strategic plan for the ALC is to enhance the professionalism of logging.  This includes taking a proactive stance on issues of industry concern, improving relationships between mills and loggers, and promoting the perception of the industry.  For the past twenty years, the ALC has promoted logger training and education programs to not only help loggers better understand the relationship that exists between their operations and the environment, but to also help to positively influence the public’s perception of sustainable timber harvesting operations.

Unfortunately, as in any profession, there continues to be those few rogue operators who chose to ignore both statutory and voluntary regulations within the industry, yet seem to be able to deliver their products to SFI® participating mills at the same price as those who are meeting the standards.  It is hard for those who are “getting it right” to compete with those who are not even trying.  There are costs associated with the performance measures of the SFI® program, and for the most part, those costs are still being absorbed by the timber harvesting businesses themselves.

After twenty years and several SFI® program standard revisions, there is still discussion around what should be the maximum amount of wood fiber that is procured by SFI® participants that is sourced from untrained loggers.  Most logging businesses had one to two years to get into compliance with the LT&E requirements before they were told they might not be able to deliver their products.  Industry has now had twenty years to try and reach 100% compliance, yet they still are looking to include language in the standard revision process that would allow them to “strive to accept” no more than 5% of their fiber from untrained loggers.  Strive is a five letter word that give industry an out if they are not meeting the percentage of the standard.  What would happen to your business during a OSHA audit if you “strived” to get your employees trained without ever actually doing it, or you strived to meet DOT regulations while hauling overweight loads?

We feel that it is time to level the playing field.  Competing with loggers who are not in compliance with the SFI required logger training and education program, or who are not following federal and state mandated policies, yet still being offered a home for their production from an SFI® program participant (mill) is unacceptable to those getting it right.  If this process is allowed to continue, those who are operating above the laws and regulations that govern this industry will set the bar for the rest of us to compete against and not only will the sustainability of the industry falter, but so will the perception of our industry in the eyes of the public.  After twenty years of “striving,” the program participants should be getting it right.

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As We See It: WHYDFML – What Have You Done For Me Lately?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

By Brian Nelson, ALC President

I’m sure most everyone has heard this phrase in some form or another during their lifetime and many have quite possibly even used it themselves. It is one of those phrases that is used all too often today in a multitude of situations but for the sake of this article it will be in reference to State, Regional, and National logging trade associations.

What are they doing for you?

In very simple terms, they are your “voice” and they represent you and other like minded individuals on a variety of topics. Our associations represent us and our interests by attending meetings, monitoring legislation and testifying before committees on our behalf -just to name a few. The saying “there is strength in numbers” is especially true when it comes to trade associations. Take any issue your association is working on and try to get the same impact on an individual basis as your association gets from one person representing its entire membership.

I once read that when times are tough one of the first budget items cut for many businesses is advertising. Actually, this is when they need advertising the most.

That same line of thinking holds true for membership dues to trade associations. When times are good -membership increases allowing associations to do more, but when membership drops due to economic downturn, the associations will not be able to offer the same level of service previously offered- and that is when it will be needed more than ever.

At a recent meeting the discussion turned to how to increase membership of our association and more specifically how to recruit that segment of the industry that doesn’t join because “they are getting the benefits anyways.” A friend summed it up by referring to those individuals as “welfare loggers”-enjoying the fruits of other’s labor. Although a bit harsh, he does make a very valid point. While there will always be those who ride the shirttails of others, I believe with the support of those individuals, the associations could accomplish even more than they would without their support.

The American Loggers Council (ALC) tries to support those who support it. While that works well in regards to our sponsors I realize that is not always the case when talking about potential members. A potential member will benefit from what ALC does just as a current member, but that is where strength in numbers comes into play. Currently ALC represents 30 states. Our goal is to represent every state that has a commercial timber harvesting industry.

The ALC has been the voice of professional loggers in this country for nearly twenty years and has accomplished many things in that time. It was formed in 1994 after the adoption of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative by the AFPA. A group of loggers decided that they needed a voice on the national level to challenge issues that impacted them. Nearly twenty years later we are still trying to enhance the logging profession by creating a more level playing field for all loggers in this country, most recently by submitting comments to the Sustainable Forestry Board on programs for logger training and education, as well as creating a “hard number” for the maximum percentage of wood fiber that can be sourced from untrained loggers by SFI program participating mills – also known as the deminimus volume.

If you are a member of a logging trade association, whether it be national, regional, or state, I thank you for your support. If not, I encourage you to do so as they are your voice for issues that impact your business. By “supporting those that support you” we will make a difference.

Wishing everyone a Blessed Holiday Season – -Brian Nelson

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As WE See It: Addressing the Logging Capacity Issue

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

By ALC Presidnet Brian Nelson

The term logging capacity appears to be the latest buzz word in our industry. There has been considerable discussion on the subject from mills to timberland owners to loggers and most everyone in between. While I admit that the issue is serious to the long term sustainability of the timber industry, the reasons for the shortage are as varied as the potential solutions being offered up. To complicate things even further, the reasons and potential solutions are generally quite different depending on which segment of the industry one is speaking to.

Numerous articles have been written dealing with the many facets of the logging capacity shortage but the one I’d like to touch on is labor. For a business to succeed it has to have an experienced and stable workforce among other things. For a business to continue for generations it needs an experienced management team that can take over when the current owner decides to call it quits.

Like many in this industry my brother and I got started at a very early age by following dad to the woods on weekends and summer vacations. We learned to run each machine by “getting in and pulling levers to see what they do” as our dad would always tell us. We learned to run the operation by following in his footsteps, asking a lot of questions, and learning from our mistakes.

While it hasn’t always been easy there is nothing that I would rather be doing. Logging is all I’ve ever done and all I’ve ever wanted to do. With each passing year we get older and closer to calling it quits and the need for someone to take over our operations increases. The question is “Who is that someone and where are they to get the experience that is needed to take over a logging business?” For many the answer could very well be our children just as many of us learned and took over from our parents.

Logging, much like farming, is a generational industry where many of the businesses are family owned and operated and are past down from generation to generation. The two are also very similar in the sense that you are either born into it or are married into it. The number of young people getting into the industry without any family history in logging is few and far between and with good reason.

While many of us started learning the ropes at a young age in the past, today that is not possible or should I say it is not legal per Federal Child Labor Laws. Logging is considered a hazardous occupation and therefore no one under the age of eighteen may be employed in it.

I understand the reason for the law is to protect the young and inexperienced and I surely wouldn’t want to see anyone get injured whether it is one of my kids or someone else but I believe the law is a bit antiquated. The reason I say that is that I feel it was written in the days when hand falling and bucking with chainsaws were the norm, but today, at least in the Lake States Region, chainsaws are the exception not the rule. Mechanization has greatly improved safety over the years and many of today’s modern machines are safer to operate than some of the jobs our kids are allowed to do.

The American Loggers Council (ALC) has been working on this issue for a number of years now with members of Congress and the Department of Labor. We have been trying to get the same exemption afforded our counterparts in agriculture for our immediate family members between the ages of 16 and 18. Today’s modern logging operations are labor intensive, highly mechanized and technical careers that require on-the-ground training in order to train the next generation to be proficient and productive.

This exemption would ensure that the next generation of mechanical timber harvesters can gain the needed on-the-ground training and experience under the close supervision of their parents who have a vested interest in their children’s safety and in passing down the profession to the next generation of timber harvesters.

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As WE See It: Thank You

Monday, October 7th, 2013

By Brian Nelson, ALC President

As I look back on the events of the 19th Annual American Loggers Council Meeting recently held at the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, Louisiana, I can’t help but make a comparison between it and the government shutdown debacle that is currently going on.

The ALC has accomplished many things over the past 19 years thanks in large part to the dedication of some of the finest loggers this country has to offer. We as loggers are notoriously independent, but to see so many different personalities come together from all corners of this great country to try and make this industry better for everyone is truly inspiring and goes to show the character that we have in this industry. Our elected officials in Washington D.C. could learn a lesson or two from those in our industry on how to resolve issues for the greater good of all, not just themselves or their party.

Regardless of one’s political views I can’t imagine anyone believes that all the arguing and political jockeying is good for the country as a whole. If nothing else, just think of how our Veterans, who risked their lives to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy, feel when they are turned away from THEIR memorials.  That is just wrong in every sense of the word!!!!!!!!!!

I will get off my soap box now and get back to the issue at hand

I have set some goals for my term as President of the ALC as is customary with each year’s incoming president.

1.      To continue working on the issues that affect all of our businesses such as Clean Water Act legislation, Federal Forest management or lack there of, and overreaching governmental regulations to name a few.

2.     To work on the Child Labor Laws issue to try and get the same exemption for our immediate family members that our counterparts in agriculture are afforded. With the rising age of loggers in this country we need to start training the next generation of loggers to take over our businesses or logging as we know it will fail to exist.

3.     To see more of the ALC sponsors involved on committees because many of the issues that affect our businesses also affect theirs, either directly or indirectly, and their input is valued.

4.     To do a better job of improving our image and getting our message out to those who don’t understand our industry. We must educate the policy makers and the general public on what we do and the benefits of it. If we don’t someone else surely will and their version likely won’t be favorable to us. We must be ambassadors for our industry-because if we don’t who will?

5.    To address the issue of logging capacity. While there has been a lot of discussion on this subject lately I don’t believe there has been any effort to get all parties involved in the supply chain together to start the dialogue. I realize there is no simple answer to this but we must start somewhere.

I am honored and humbled to be named the 20th President of the American Loggers Council and I will do everything I can to represent the professional timber harvesters of this great country. I’m sure there will be many challenges along the way but with the support I’ve been shown so far I’m sure we will prevail.

Brian Nelson is the current President of the American Loggers Council and he and his brother David and father Marvin own and operate Marvin Nelson Forest Products, Inc. based out of Cornell, Michigan.

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As WE See It: The “Invisible” Workforce

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

“Save for encountering a logging truck on a highway, most Americans have no interaction with the industry that supplies most of the building products, paper and packaging materials they consume daily.  That’s a shame because loggers – America’s “invisible” workforce – make significant contributions to the nation’s economic and environmental well-being.” – Jim Petersen – Evergreen Foundation

It is 5:00 AM in any given time zone across these United States. While many are hitting the snooze alarm, or enjoying their first cup of coffee, a dedicated group of professionals is already on the job. They are America’s loggers, harvesters of the timber that will eventually make its way into every American home in the form of building materials, the morning newspaper, paper towels, an egg carton, cereal box or those two time-honored morning rituals: brushing teeth or, well, you know.

Thousands of everyday products – including many pharmaceuticals – contain wood in one processed form or another. Not one of these products would ever reach your home were it not for loggers, the first link in an impressive supply chain that restocks your pantry, bedroom, bathroom, nursery, workshop and kitchen cupboards every time you visit a store that sells groceries, pharmaceuticals, furniture, clothing or building materials.

About 100,000 men and women are employed in logging and forestry operations in America’s timbered regions: the West, Southeast, Great Lakes and Northeast. Although tree species and products vary from region to region, the job does not. Logging, replanting and tree management are all parts of an unending cycle that insures that our nation will never run out of trees and consumers will never run out of the products they consume in such abundance.

The nation’s logging and forestry payroll tops $3 billion – is by far the largest “green” job pool we have in our country. Add in pulp and paper manufacturers, saw mills that process lumber and companies that manufacture engineered panels, sheeting, trusses and biomass for energy and you have an industry that annually generates 4.5 percent of total U.S. manufacturing GDP [gross domestic product]. This same technologically advanced industry is among the Top 10 manufacturers in 47 states.

Every day, each of Earth’s 5.4 billion inhabitants consumes, on average, the equivalent of a four-pound block of wood. But the average American uses 3.5 times this amount – about 14 pounds, the weight of a full grocery bag. About 91 percent of this wood comes from America’s privately owned managed forests. State and Indian-owned forests contribute another 6 percent and the nation’s federally-owned forests, which are no longer managed for timber, contribute a scant two percent.

Thanks to private capital and advancements in the forest sciences the United States has 20 percent more forest than it did when our nation first celebrated Earth Day in 1970 – and fully two-thirds as much forestland as it had when the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker that reads, “For America’s Foresters Every Day is Earth Day.”

More than 56 percent of U.S. forests are privately owned, much of it by families who manage their lands to create or maintain wildlife habitat. Increasingly, these lands are certified as being sustainably managed by third-party organizations that grade management quality on site. Small wonder then that between the years 2000 and 2005 our nation’s forested land base grew by two million acres.

Long before logging begins, the next tree planting has been planned and budgeted. Every day, decisions are made on-the-ground by trained professionals – foresters and loggers alike – whose livelihoods and reputations turn on their ability to sustainably manage timber and deliver logs to wood processors who transform the nation’s forest abundance into thousands of products that add to the comfort and safety of your family’s daily life. Always remember that long before the logging begins, the next tree planting will occur in a matter of months, just as soon as the ground is prepared for a new crop of seedlings.

I invite you to get to know America’s loggers – perhaps for the first time in your life. I believe that you will enjoy their underappreciated story as much as they enjoy serving so many of your family’s needs.

Jim Petersen is a co-founder of the non-profit Evergreen Foundation, and publisher of Evergreen, the Foundation’s periodic journal. The Foundation was established in Medford, Oregon in 1986 to help advance public understanding and support for science based forestry and forest policy. For more information, visit their web site at .

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As WE See It: The Next Generation – Part 2

Monday, August 5th, 2013

By Mark Turner – Turner Logging

In my previous article, I discussed how many of us got into logging and some of the challenges facing today’s loggers with respect to where the next generation of loggers is going to come from. It’s apparent that I’m not the only one concerned with the future of logging because I got a lot of feedback and comments from that first article. Obviously, this is a dialogue that we need to be having now and that we can’t afford to keep pushing it aside. In this article, I would like to explore some possible solutions to the looming shortage of loggers, but I must admit; however, describing the problems is much easier than trying to come up with solutions.

The American logging industry is a highly competitive business with both the producers (loggers) and the purchasers (mills and timber companies) having the same goal; get the highest production for the lowest cost. In order for companies to remain in business, they’ve had to find the most efficient ways to get production, usually a combination of new equipment, innovative techniques and trained crews. Although popular in other countries, government regulations, subsidies and artificial supports are not the path to future success in the American logging industry. We, the entire timber industry, need to come together to continue to be able to profitably compete in a global marketplace. Unfortunately, logging is the weak link in the timber supply chain.

When we start looking for solutions, I think that part of the fault falls upon us loggers. In the past when a forester complained that our bid was “way too high,” we have been far too quick to acquiesce. As a group, we tend not to be complainers. We simply keep on going and do the best we can with the situation we find ourselves in. When we are told that we will have to do more with less, we simply shrug our shoulders and say OK. This is part of our problem. We are way too resourceful for our own good. At some point, we are going to have to learn to stand up for ourselves better, to get what we need to be able to stay in this business.

The people we work for are also part of the problem and they will need to be part of the solution. A recently-retired forester’s comments accurately describe much of the attitude in our industry. He said that, during his career, he was always told to “make sure the loggers don’t go broke but don’t let them make any money either”.

In my opinion, the primary solution is more money. In general, the logging industry is grossly undercapitalized, with insufficient resources to successfully weather the extreme ups-and-downs common to logging. We are running on the tightest margins in the memory of this industry. Equipment and labor are our two major expenses and 2 of the 3 reasons that we remain successful. If loggers made more money, we would be able to acquire and maintain the best, most innovative equipment and to attract and retain the best, most talented labor. With more money flowing through the pipeline to loggers, the entire timber industry would be stronger and more profitable.

Quality equipment is a key requirement for all loggers. Logging has changed over the years and the equipment we need now is much more expensive and complex. The first challenge is to acquire that equipment. Financing is almost always required. Unless a company already has years of experience under their belt and owns a lot of equipment, financing, particularly at a decent rate, is almost impossible to get. The next challenge is to maintain these fine-tuned, complex machines. The simplest repairs are extremely expensive and a logger may need financing for larger repairs to his equipment because he no longer has the liquidity that he had even 10 years ago. I have heard talk of timber companies helping with financing. For some, that could be a good solution; however, I’m not a big fan of being beholden to someone I am working for. It changes the relationship in a very fundamental (and not good) way because now the timber company “owns” that logging company.

Trained crews have always been a key element of a successful logging operation. Loggers used to be middle to upper middle class people. One of the members of Associated Oregon Loggers analyzed compensation from the late 1980’s through 2012. He discovered that hourly compensation had risen only 1.7% annually over 30 years, significantly below the rate of inflation. If formal data had been available from the early 1980’s (right before the early-80’s recession), it is estimated that current compensation would have actually decreased during that time span. This failure to keep up with the cost of living has resulted in a majority of loggers now no longer making a middle-class wage. Given the state of our industry, it is a wonder that anyone would choose to get into logging. Out here in the west, we compete directly with construction and the oil and gas fields. In those industries, unskilled workers make at least $10 more per hour than many of our highly-skilled operators. That’s for work that, in many cases, requires less skill, is much less physically demanding and is much less dangerous. This makes it really tough to find enough qualified people to work in our industry. At times, we struggle to hire people who can simply pass a drug test, much less actually be qualified. If logging is going to continue to be a viable industry, people coming into the industry need to feel like there is a future for them.

Many of us have heard from timber company representatives that when times are bad, “we’re all in this together and we all have to make sacrifices.” We understand and agree with that. The problem is that when times are good, suddenly we’re not “all in this together” anymore and we don’t get our share of the profits. Going forward, as the economy improves and wood products become more valuable, logging prices will need to rise, to allow loggers to share in the “good times” so that we have the necessary resources to build the infrastructure that will be required to support a healthy timber industry.

The final part of the solution is effective training programs for loggers. Currently, for loggers to stay certified, they must attend ongoing training classes. The subjects covered range from human resource issues to the latest in logging technology and forest practices. One of the biggest training needs is in becoming more competent managers and financially-knowledgeable business people. In this day and age, we must know how to accurately bid jobs which calls for a thorough understanding of and the ability to project expenses. A surprising number of loggers don’t have a good handle on what their costs are. Often times, they don’t know if they are on track to make any money until the job is more than half way done. An additional opportunity is in developing computer software customized to the logging industry. With improved financial training, we can learn to stand up for ourselves when that forester tells us we “need to sharpen our pencil” and confidently defend our numbers, justifying the costs of what it takes to run a highly-efficient logging operation.

For the time being, logging operations continue to limp along. The best operators are still in business and will continue to be until they retire. As more and more operators retire, those of us who remain should reap incredible rewards because there will be fewer loggers available for so much work. After we retire, then what? Logging is not something easily taught in a classroom. There is no real substitute for putting your time in, on the job. Virtually all of us learned the business of logging at our father’s knee, going up to the job on weekends and logging during summer vacations. It has taken decades through the school of hard knocks to teach the current generation of operators how to be successful loggers. Regrettably, that path doesn’t exist anymore in the 21st century.

In the end, the solution is money. If we continue to push viable solutions down the road, it amounts to slow suicide for the logging industry with a huge loss of infrastructure and a crisis for the entire timber industry and our consumers. The big question is, do they pay us now or pay us later? I believe that the former would be the wisest choice. If young people are able to see that there is “real money” in logging, then the question of where the next generation of loggers will come from may simply disappear.

Mark Turner who along with his brother Greg, owns and operates Turner Logging, in Banks, OR.

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

Loggers Meet in Grapevine, Texas

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Peterbilt hosts American Loggers Council Summer Board meeting

Hemphill, Texas (July 29, 2013) – Members of the American Loggers Council (ALC) gathered on July 26 through July 27 in Grapevine, Texas for their Summer Board of Directors meeting that was hosted by Peterbilt.

The two day program began with a Friday morning meeting and tour of the Peterbilt production facilities located in Denton, Texas where Jim Zito, National Vocational Sales Manager for Peterbilt and Dan Brunner, Regional Vocational Sales Manager for Peterbilt lead discussions on not only their line-up of products being offered to the timber harvesting industry, but a look into the future as to what part liquefied natural gas might play in the industry.

Following the morning discussions, members were treated to a tour of the 430,000+ square foot production facilties where Peterbilt is producing many models of its trucks, including their latest Model 567.  The group was able to walk the floor while asking questions and seeing much of the technology that goes into building the Peterbilt line of trucks.

Following the plant tour, members gathered again to comment and ask questions pertaining to the tour, as well as the rebate program that Peterbilt is currently offering to ALC members in good standing with their State and Regional logging associations; details available on the ALC web site at

Peterbilt treated the ALC Board members to lunch at Rudy’s Barbeque Restaurant for a real taste of Texas prior to returning everyone to the hotel.

Saturday morning, the American Loggers Council Board of Directors met to review committee work and other proposals that have been presented since their last meeting in March.  Reports were heard from the executive, legislative, transportation, communications, membership and nominations committees.

ALC Board members discussed the current review process for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative program and came up with recommendations for ALC comments geared toward logger training and education programs as well a defined amount of timber that can be delivered from untrained loggers to a consuming SFI Program participating mill.

Other business included approval to work with Media Planet to produce a 12-18 page editorial that would appear in USA Today as an insert, depicting logging and the role that it plays in our economy and the professionalism that now exists within the industry.  Circulation is expected to be close to 500,000 copies in targeted areas where the general public needs to know more about the industry.

A slate of nominees for officer positions was introduced by the nominations committee, and those positions will be voted on at the Annual Meeting to be held in Marksville, Louisiana on September 28th.

Fleetmatics representatives Rick Mills and Steve Gorman presented the Board members with the latest technology available for fleet management that can be utilized in the log trucking industry to help cut costs and haul more efficiently.  Fleetmatics is one of the newest sponsors of the ALC.

ALC Vice President Brian Nelson commented that he was “very thankful for Peterbilt for rolling out the red carpet for the ALC and its members,” and that he felt that “with Peterbilt’s support combined with the many other organizations that are currently sponsoring the American Loggers Council, that the opportunities for growth and bringing about needed changes to the industry could happen.”

ALC Executive Vice President Danny Dructor stated that, “It is a real opportunity to share quality time with our sponsors, and grow those relationships.  What we do, here at the American Loggers Council is not only important to our members, but to all of those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy logging infrastructure.   I wish to thank all of our friends at Peterbilt for the tremendous effort that was made in making us feel welcome, and more importantly, establishing the groundwork that we hope will keep us working together for years to come.”

About the American Loggers Council

The American Loggers Council is a 501(c)(6) organization representing timber harvesting professionals in 30 states.  For more information contact the American Loggers Council Office at 409-625-0206 or visit their website at

As We See It: The Rollercoaster

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

By Danny Dructor, ALC Executive Vice-President

Many years ago, I remember a trip I made with my family to an amusement park where we enjoyed spending the day seeing the sights and riding the rides.  One of the biggest excitements came when I found out that I was tall enough to ride the rollercoaster, but what I did not realize then was that the rollercoaster “effect” would follow me throughout my adult life.

We have all experienced the rollercoaster effect; the ups and downs of the economy, the highs and lows of growing older, and the good times and bad times of the timber harvesting industry…sometimes up, sometimes down.

We are still on that rollercoaster.  While markets have shown some improvement over the past few months for the products and services that we provide, there is still the potential threat of more regulation that could stymie our growth.

For the past 18 months, the American Loggers Council has worked with other associations in an attempt to secure legislation that would permanently exempt using forest roads from the NPDES permitting system.  Many of our sponsors have jumped into the fray with us, including Caterpillar Forest Products and John Deere.  We have been in the trenches in Washington, DC, working together to try and put a common sense bill into place that would remove one more “worry” from our still recovering industry.

On June 18th, we got an unexpected surprise.  Members of the U.S. House of Representatives decided to attach the Silviculture Regulatory Exemption Act as an amendment to the House Version of the Farm Bill.  Immediately, a call to action was sent out requesting that everyone call their representatives and ask that they support the amendment in the Farm Bill.  Because of the great work put in by all, the amendment passed on the floor of the House on a voice vote on June 19th, with no one debating in opposition of the amendment.

But then came June 20th, when members of the House voted on final passage of the Farm Bill.  The Bill went down in smoke by a vote of 194 for and 234 against.

Unfortunately, larger considerations of the Farm Bill such as the Food Stamp (SNAP) program carried a lot more weight than our forest roads amendment, but the fact remains that the vast majority of the members of the House voted favorably on the language that was included in the amendment, understanding that the language in the amendment made sense.

Once again we have experienced the rollercoaster effect that comes with life, and once again, we find ourselves at the bottom of the hill slowing climbing our way back up.  I’m not so certain that the idea of riding roller coasters anymore is appealing, but you can rest assured that the American Loggers Council will do its part in securing legislation that is favorable towards the timber harvesting industry, even if the ride is not always as smooth as we would like.

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As We See It: Knowing When to Say No

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

By Danny Dructor

If you are still in the logging business today, you have probably become very adept about calculating the cost of doing business.  With the rising price of equipment and parts; consumables such as fuel, tires and lubricants; not to mention higher labor costs and costs associated with regulation of the industry, you have to be on top of your game, knowing just what your fixed costs are and also have a good idea of your variable costs.

For years, the leadership of our industry has stressed the importance of knowing what it costs to produce a unit of fiber.  There have been numerous studies completed by Universities and organizations such as the Wood Supply Research Institute that help to determine some of the inefficiencies in the wood supply chain and thoughts on how best to reduce cost in our operating environment.  While models have been developed to calculate what it “should” cost to produce a volume of fiber, they oftentimes leave out the many variables such as topography, quality of timber, regeneration harvest vs. thinning, tract size and other expectations that a consulting forester or landowner expect well after the ink is dry on a contract.  Other variables that influence the cost of production include DOT inspections, turn- around time at the mill, breakdowns, labor shortages and weather, to name a few.

There continue to be meetings across the country that look at the entire wood supply chain and discussions that include the need for a cultural change in the way that business is conducted from the stump to the mill.  Meetings and discussions are only as good as the follow-up and on-the-ground practices that occur as a result.

The old business model that has existed over the past 100+ years between loggers and their customers, the landowners and the consuming mills is no longer working.  What has been missing from this model is the logger knowing when to say NO; NO to the landowner if they expect a higher price for their stumpage that would make you unprofitable or expectations of services that were not included in the contract; NO to the mill if the delivered rate is less than you can afford to pay a reasonable stumpage rate and charge a reasonable rate for the services that you will be providing.  When there is not enough money left to make a reasonable profit for the business that you are depending on to afford a decent living and provide a retirement for you and your family, it is time to say NO.

You have equipped yourself with the tools and knowledge that you need to make these decisions over the past several years as your business has gained efficiencies both on-the-ground and through better management.  Now you must use them.  Perhaps it is time that logger training include negotiation skills for loggers.  Would you attend?

While there are many variables that impact profitability and success in this industry, oftentimes loggers can be their own worst adversaries.  Until we view ourselves in a better light and learn the business ropes better, including negotiation, can we really expect to do any better?

As we have all heard repeatedly, “There are three legs to the supply chain, and all need to be strong.”  Opportunities are coming back for the professional timber harvester as markets improve across the country.  Let’s not blow it by selling ourselves short.  Know when to say NO, and realize an opportunity where one exists.  As upbeat 2013 quarterly reports from some of the major forest products corporations begin to trickle in, a quote from a good colleague simply states, “We don’t mind sharing some of the pain in the down cycles, but it would be great if we could also share some of the gains in the up cycles.”

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

As WE See It: ALC Taking Message to Washington

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

On Tuesday, February 26, 2013, ALC Past President Matt Jensen carried the loggers’ message to Washington.  Matt testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations, primarily about the differences that exist between Federal and State timber sale programs.

Matt not only represented the American Loggers Council, but also the voices of the nation’s professional timber harvesters throughout the country.

His testimony included the need for timber sale programs in which the forest products industry could rally around and make the needed investments to provide jobs and economic opportunities for rural Americans dependent on the forest industry.

Matt cited lack of management, forest health issues and no real concern for generating revenues as reasons why the federal government should consider placing the management of the federal forests into state trusts which have a much better track record of taking care of the forests and generating real value to the general public.

Matt was able to provide real time, on-the-ground information to the subcommittee on the implementation of a federal timber sale contract and the issues that logging businesses across the country have when working with a federal timber sale contract as compared to a State timber sale contract.

Members and leadership of the American Loggers Council intend on making themselves available for hearings in Washington as well as other parts of the country that are pertinent to the timber harvesting community and are already making plans for their Spring Fly-In and Board of Directors meeting to be held April 11-13 in our nation’s capitol.

To learn more about the positions that the American Loggers Council is taking on the nation’s loggers’ behalf, visit and look on the advocacy page.  You will also find contact information for your state representatives.

About the American Loggers Council:

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 or contact their office at 409-625-0206.

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