As We See It... What are they Doing for You?

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 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 www.americanloggers.org or contact their office at 409-625-0206.