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ALC Executive Vice President
Daniel J. Dructor
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P.O. Box 966
Hemphill, TX 75948
T: 409.625.0206
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Wendy Farrand: Loggers, Listen to Those Who Truly Understand

Ever since I set foot on a logging job, I have been advocating and defending loggers. I say to loggers everywhere, no one knows your world better than a fellow logging contractor. I am not a logger, but I did learn a lot of things from working in the woods right alongside loggers as a procurement manager. 


As a procurement manager for a fully mechanized timber harvesting company, I was part of the crew. Once I got that contract signed, I supported my crews the best way I could which could entailed anything from running for a hose or part, driving a crew member to the hospital or court, or retrieving hot soup for the slasher operator who was sick as a dog, but refused to leave the job in order to keep the wood flowing to the mill. I always strived to pull my weight when it came to physical work. 


No one, and I mean no one, myself included, knows the pain and heartache of running a logging company when times are tough. When fuel prices are high, when quotas are low or when regulations halt a job. I experienced all those things alongside the owner, but when I went home, the bottom line, as much as I stressed about the business, I did not sign the paychecks and could not begin to tell the logger how to decide what to do. I could advise him on things that I knew without a doubt, but making those tough every day decisions could only fall on his shoulders. 


Which brings me to a very valuable bit of information ….. no one but a fellow logging contractor can understand, really understand, what you experience in the woods. So when considering people to fill those positions of power, who are setting standards for how you work in the woods, please, please hold out for someone who has walked your shoes. Someone who really understands what it is like to look into the eyes of those men and women who have families waiting at home for them to return. Waiting for them to return with a fair wage to put food on the table, and a roof over their heads. People in power should understand those hard decisions, how you make them, and why you make them. 


When I delivered my presentation “Rebranding and Industry” this past February at the Oregon Logging Conference, I opened my presentation exactly the way I opened this piece, I have worked in the woods alongside loggers, I have worked in this industry in hard times, but I still don’t feel I have the right to tell a business owner how to make those tough decisions when I have never really walked in his shoes, or frankly had the courage to walk in his or her boots. I have never had a huge equipment payment, had to make the decision to buy an expensive part to repair a piece of equipment, or stretch a penny to buy fuel, the lifeblood that keeps the wood flowing. What’s a logger to do? In order to keep the wood flowing those decisions, made under extremely stressful circumstances with very little room for a wiggle, let alone the luxury of time to decide, are what separate the weak from the strong. When someone from outside of your industry tries to tell you what to do, take heed, for without total understanding of the blood, sweat and tears that go into the decisions you so keenly make every day, they really don’t understand. 


Empathy, the ability to put yourself in someone else shoes, is one thing a successful leader must possess. So, there is one thing I can advise you without a doubt, and that is fill the spots, that are in your power to fill, with people who have walked in your boots. Not someone who might wear sandals or office flats on the job, if you know what I mean. 


Wendy Farrand is a forest industry consultant who works to spread the word regarding the value of strengthening “The People Side of Timber Harvesting” and the positive impact that has on safety, production, and overall professionalism in the logging industry.