iTraveling through our great state, it’s easy to understand why the forestry industry is so vitally linked to Maine’s economy. In a 2017 study conducted by the University of Maine and the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, it was noted that logging supports more than 9,000 Maine jobs either directly or indirectly. Which is why it’s easy to find professionals in this line of work all over our great state. We talked to a few of these hardworking individuals to find out what makes this business so special, how they got into it (not surprising, a love of the outdoors helps) and what advice they have to share with young people interested in the forestry industry. As we celebrate Maine Forest Products Week, we thank these folks and all those who help manage Maine’s forest resources.
Company Harvest Operations Manager
Where are you from? New Limerick
Current position and company you work for: Company Harvest Operations Manager for K. A. Tuttle & Sons, LLC
Tell us about what you do: We have a cut-to-length operation along with a trucking company.
What made you interested in forestry? Growing up in a logging family, it is something that I have always wanted to do. I enjoy doing something different all the time and the challenges that come with the day to day. I also enjoy the outdoors.
How did you get started? Well, I grew up in the industry. My father has been in the business his whole life. I started with him right outta high school.
What do you enjoy most about your work? I love the forest industry and am very passionate about it. I also enjoy working with our crew — we have a really good group of people around us that make it really enjoyable.
Why is this industry so important to Maine? From the equipment and fuel dealers, to the landowners and the mills, to the local coffee shop — it’s an industry that is important to the economy and heritage of every little town in Maine, and we are proud as loggers to be a part of this as the beginning of the supply chain. Each part, including loggers, needs to be successful for the industry to continue to prosper.
What advice can you share for young people interested in the forestry industry? I would say you should love the outdoors and be someone who enjoys seeing the results of their work and always be willing to learn something new and be able to adapt to many different situations.
Meet Mallory Bussell
Where are you from? I grew up in Parkman. I now live in Chelsea, Maine.
Current position and company you work for: I am Operations Manager at Two Spruce LLC in Windsor. I am a licensed forester. Two Spruce LLC provides excavation, timber harvesting, forestry consulting and project management services. We’re a small company focused on high quality work.
What made you interested in forestry? Growing up, my siblings and I spent as much time as possible outdoors. We loved playing in the woods. As I got older, I became more interested in what my dad did for work. My dad is an equipment operator for Madden Timberlands. During school breaks I would drive into the woods and visit the crew. The guys would always smile and stop for a minute to show me their machines and also why they were doing the work like they were. I was hooked!
How did you get started? I decided to apply to the Forestry Program at University of Maine in Orono. I wasn’t entirely sure if forestry was the right fit for me, but I wanted to find out. I quickly realized I really enjoyed learning about the woods. Forestry itself wasn’t exactly what I was interested in though; I wanted to learn how businesses run. That was when I decided to add a Business Administration minor to the B.S. in Forestry. The two were a perfect fit for me.
As a student, I worked as a research assistant in the Forestry School on an interesting variety of research projects. I volunteered to call potential new students and host tours of the Forestry School. I also did a summer internship with what was then Plum Creek. The work that seemed irrelevant then was actually the most valuable to what I do now. Try everything, you never know what you may do.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
It has changed over time! Working outside, meeting new people who loved land like I do and being a key provider of jobs for a large number of families. Right now, what I enjoy most is working with people who believe what I believe—quality over quantity.
Why is this industry so important to Maine?
Maine is one of the most heavily forested states in the U.S. The products we derive from our natural resources provide the basic building blocks to society. If we don’t sustainably manage it for the future, who will?
What advice can you share for young people interested in the forestry industry?
The devil is in the details, pay attention. Understand how you add value to the overall goal. Focus on that. Understand what is reasonable and what isn’t in any job you pursue. Be honest but be kind.
Try everything. Don’t let locations or distance stop you. Don’t stop learning. The more you experience, the more valuable you become. There is something to be learned from everyone and everything. Even in the experiences that teach you what you don’t want and who you aren’t. You are not better than anyone no matter what your job title is. Sweep the floor and take out the trash. Don’t be afraid to change. Life is an adventure. Sometimes what you thought you wanted, you don’t want. It’s okay to move on.
Take responsibility. Your life is your choices. When you are wrong, say so. Focus on being a clear and concise communicator. Go to every leadership training available to you. Assume that everyone you encounter is doing the best they can, even on their worst days. If there is nothing else to learn at a position, move up or move on. Dreams don’t happen overnight. Be patient and make choices towards it. Don’t take life too seriously. If the decision will not matter next week, next month or next year don’t overthink it. Stand up for yourself but more importantly stand up for others. Accepting responsibility means taking responsibility for yourself and your team, even when wrong. Own all mistakes and work to not repeat them. The woods business is hard, if it were easy everyone would do it. If you are truly interested in a career in the forestry industry look me up! I’m happy to chat.
Meet Eric Hanington
Co-owner of Hanington Bros Inc. and STEAD Timberlands LLC
Where are you from? I currently live in Reed Plantation with my wife Krista (who’s from Mississippi) and our 4 wonderful daughters.
Current position and company you work for: We moved back to Maine in 2017 from South Carolina, where I worked as a paper machine manager for International Paper (IP) in its Eastover Mill. I started working for IP in Alabama after graduating from Orono with a Mechanical Engineering Technology degree in 2008. We are actually currently living in the house I grew up in, in Reed Plantation. I am the co-owner, with my father Steve, of both Hanington Bros Inc. (logging company) and STEAD Timberlands LLC (land holdings company). This makes me the third generation family member to own Hanington Bros, since its incorporation 63 years ago.
Tell us about what you do: As far as what I do, well when you are one of the owners, you basically do anything and everything it takes to make sure your company is successful — sometimes it involves doing the jobs nobody else wants to do. One day I may be running a skidder, another day I could be trying to better understand our health insurance policy to shop for better rates during our yearly renewal, laying under a tractor truck replacing the transmission, or in a rain suit covered head to toe in grease from pressure washing a delimber.
What made you interested in forestry? When you’re born in the woods, raised in the woods, play in the woods and work in the woods, trees are something you become quite familiar with and it becomes a part of who you are.
How did you get started? Due to child labor laws, I can neither confirm nor deny my age when I first started running a grapple skidder for my family’s business during my summer school vacation, but let’s just say, I was young. When you’re a young man running heavy equipment, not much about it seems like work at first, well except for the fact you get up in the morning for work around the same time all your school age friends were going to bed.
What do you enjoy most about your work? I’d say there’s a lot of things about my job I enjoy. I enjoy getting to work with my father and mother on a daily basis. As a owner of a company our size my priorities end up in other places but when I get the opportunity to fill in and run a piece of equipment or drive one of the trucks, it’s definitely something I cherish. I love doing maintenance on the equipment, getting to work with my hands, making decisions to improve the equipment’s overall reliability and the personal satisfaction I get on a job completed well. I love the fact that I get the chance to work outside in the woods and scenery is always changing. I enjoy getting to walk woodlots with my father and see areas he clear cut with a feller buncher when he worked with my grandfather. Areas that when we walk through them are pretty well stocked and ready for another harvest. Or areas he partially cut on 30 years ago and now there are spruce two feet in diameter on the butt. I love knowing the multi generations of the woods and understanding how resilient the forest is and how actively harvesting it only improves its long term sustainability.
Why is this industry so important to Maine? A healthy and strong Maine forestry products industry plays a key role in the long term success of both our state’s economy and our environment. Many of our rural communities depend on the good paying and highly satisfying jobs that the industry provides. Maine’s forest is extremely diverse in its make-up, and a forest that is actively harvested and managed only promotes future growth, increased carbon storage and promotes the right feed stock and habitat for many of the state’s wildlife. We’ve purchased wood lots that were not harvested and managed and to see a lot of the trees lost to disease or age and laying on ground coupled with no regeneration on the forest floor from lack of sunlight doesn’t not equal a healthy forest for Maine’s future.What advice can you share for young people interested in the forestry industry? I would tell them not to listen to the nah sayers. For far too long our country and society has put more emphasis and value on a four year college degree than on the people willing and able to work in a trade. Logging is a trade and it’s a trade our country is very dependent on. I wonder how many people in our society push students and their children to a four year degree and then are also willing to complain to somebody that they can’t find an electrician to come and work on their house or a HVAC person to come work on their heating unit in the middle of winter. Each industry plays a critical role in our society and whether you have a degree or not, each industry should be viewed in society as equal in their value and contribution as a whole. So if your passion is to become a logger, a trucker, a mechanic, don’t let anyone discourage you from that or make you think less of yourself because of it. Do what you’re passionate about and do it with the motivation of being the best, most dependable and most successful one doing it.
Executive Director, Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestland
Where are you from? Originally Littleton, now Brunswick.
Tell us about what you do: The Trust to Conserve Northeast Forestlands is a 501(c)(3) that was created in 2000 by the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine to provide third party certification of forest products through our Northeast Master Logger Certification and Forest Stewardship Council certificates. Third-party certification means an unbiased party has reviewed harvesting practices on the ground to a recognized standard.
What made you interested in logging and forestry? I got interested through a friend in high school.
How did you get started? I started cutting wood around the family farm in high school and really enjoyed it, so I decided to follow my passion at the University of Maine at Fort Kent Forest Technology program.
What do you enjoy most about your work? I enjoy working with logging contractors. They work extremely long hours, carry a lot of financial risk, are always dealing with issues that come at them, and oftentimes do not get the respect they deserve. I enjoy telling their story and sharing their work through Northeast Master Logger Certification to build that respect. Maine and the Northeast have some of the most professional loggers in the world.
Why is this industry so important to Maine? It is a heritage industry that has been around for over 400 years. Maine has a long, proud history of responsible harvesting. This is something we need to promote, we do it better than many other states or countries for that matter.
What advice can you share for young people interested in the forestry industry? If you enjoy being outdoors and solving complex situations on a daily basis, then this is for you. There is also a lot of satisfaction in completing a harvest and coming back in 10 years and seeing the positive difference your harvesting has made, all while supplying consumers with a product they desire like paper, firewood and lumber.
Meet Jeremy Shay
Roads Coordinator and Utilization Forester
Where are you from? I’m from Danforth, and currently live in Hermon.
Current position and company you work for: Roads coordinator and utilization forester. I work for American Forest Management.
Tell us about what you do: In my Roads Coordinator role, I set up a budget for each road building season, broken down by project and contractor. I meet with our contractors each spring to provide a list of jobs that they will need to complete by the end of the road building season. I also send out a culvert bid package each year to various vendors to receive rates on culverts. I also help design and coordinate the installation of bridges that are installed on the land base.
For Utilization, we find the best market that is available based on tree species and tree quality to ensure the landowner is getting the highest value for the timber that is harvested. I inspect logs that the contractors have prepared to make sure lengths and diameter specifications have been met so the mills receive the right specifications.
What made you interested in forestry? I grew up as a logger’s son, so I knew I wanted to work in the forest industry since I was young. I knew first hand how close everyone is in the industry and how everyone looks out for one another. I enjoy being outside so I knew there was no better fit for me than to become a forester.
How did you get started? I graduated from the University of Maine at Fort Kent in December in 2012 and was hired by a great family company, H.C. Haynes Inc. After working for H.C. Haynes for five years, I decided to come to work for American Forest Management in September of 2016.
What do you enjoy most about your work? I enjoy our team atmosphere and the willingness of other co-workers to lend a helping hand whenever needed. I also enjoy working outside and being able to work across our whole state from Machias to Greenville. I enjoy that every day is not the same and working with contractors to problem solve so we can both achieve the same goal.
Why is this industry so important to Maine? This industry is so important to Maine because of the amount of people that work in the industry, from mills, contractors and land management companies. This industry is also important because we are the most forested state in the United States.
What advice can you share for young people interested in the forestry industry? Advice I would share to young people interested in the forest industry: if you enjoy being outside and like to be part of a team, this industry might be a great fit for you.
See this Section as it appeared in print here.