Logging a Complex Business

The logging business has long been one of the foundation industries in the U.S. Houses would be not built, paper would not be made and disposable diapers would not exist if it were not the harvesting of timber. The entire process of harvesting timber starts within our sustainable forests. Nowhere in the world is the concepts of renewable and sustainable natural resource exist and operate like in the United States.

Today sustainability of our forest means there are more forest lands than in Colonial times. Today sustainability is supported by undergraduate degrees from eminent universities such as Clemson and Georgia. Today sustainability makes for significant logging employment in major regions of the country.

The accomplishment of sustainability can be even better appreciated when considering that the logging industry is the definition of multi generational small business as known. Loggers typically work in a local area. A typical logger may be running two to three crews and it is not at all unusual for there to be one crew companies.

The size of the individual company makes it an even greater accomplishment to be a modern day logger. Today’s logger is characterized as someone with a great respect for the natural resource they harvest, an entrepreneur that makes a significant capital investment and is a tribute to what self regulation can achieve through the Sustainable Forest Initiative’s Best Practices.

Logging has never been a simple business. In fact logging is typically really at least three businesses:

  1. First is there is the harvesting of trees. Harvesting timber is really big Ag as seen all over the U.S. Modern logging equipment is safe, efficient and expensive. Logger entrepreneurs make significant investments in heavy equipment to meet modern America and Global demand for cost effective unmanufactured wood products. In the Southeastern States the one tool typically missing from a logging site is the chain saw. The cost of wood based products would be untouchable for most of us if trees were harvested as they were in an earlier generation.
  2. The second business inherent to logging is the transportation of timber from the site it is being harvested to the mills that will process the timber. The transportation of the timber is by truck. The distance to the mill is a significant factor. The greater the distance the fewer loads that can be transported in a day, the lower the daily revenue. The tonnage delivered is how the logging industry earns its income. Like the harvesting equipment modern trucks are expensive and safe to operate. A logger today complies with both OSHA and Department of Transportation regulations. The complexity to know the rules that affect the logger are a challenge for a small business to keep us with.
  3. The third business is really a garage mechanics business. The harvesting equipment and the trucks need to be constantly maintained. The business today is about productivity if a logger is to stay in business. The equipment must be maintained to perform at its best. Equipment down time represents a significant pressure on revenue and can exacerbate lost work days due to weather. To stay operational a logging company makes a major investment in tools and service equipment used by skilled mechanics to perform the ongoing, never ending maintenance of the trucks and equipment required to keep the business logging.

The logger can reach out for help from some key resources. The logging insurance agent that places the coverage can provide invaluable risk management advice. To keep up with regulatory changes and ongoing education there is no better source than the state logging association, ie in South Carolina the South Carolina Timber Producers Association and nationally, the American Loggers Council.

And make no mistake, like all small businesses the Logging Industry needs to be represented or be subject to unknowing changes in regulation. A complex business is its own reward to successfully participate.