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Owning their own business and “working for themselves” is the aspiration of many people. A forest operations career offers many opportunities to progress into business ownership. Because most forestry field production work is performed by small companies, there’s real potential to become your own boss in a self-owned business, after a few years of experience learning a specialty in forest contracting.
Forest operations offer so many exciting business ownership opportunities to learn and apply a wide range of skills in a variety of outdoor-based settings. These rewarding careers in forest contracting not only deliver valuable wood products to the market, they help ensure the continued protection of outdoor environment. An added advantage of these careers is their outdoor work, where results are accomplished and seen every day.
The forest operations industry is almost exclusively small business—and a great profession to own and run a small business. In particular, the typical forest production business is owned by an individual, a family or partnership. These firms employ from one to 200 workers—though, commonly less than two dozen employees. Many of today’s forestry businesses were started by one-time forestry employees, who gained experience on-the-job, advanced to supervise operations, and then later formed their own company.
The forestry operations jobs described herein typically work for small, family-owned businesses. The small forestry business is often called an independent “contractor,” because they typically work on a contract basis. The forest “contractor” hires their services out to forest landowners, manufacturers, timber purchasers, government agencies, professional consultants, or other contractors. Today’s forest contract business is skilled at a variety of work situations, types of equipment and methods—tailored to specific designs and instructions in a contract.
Forest management operations are indeed a rewarding profession to operate and run your own small business. At the end of every day—although running an entrepreneurial company can be challenging—small business owners are grateful to be able to do what they love. Forest business owners say that forest production is a great place to invest their time, money, know-how and passion. It’s gratifying to overcome a project’s challenges and to innovate ways to accomplish desired results. Life in rural communities near forests—where small businesses drive the economy—have a rewarding sense of place, where people care about one another, take pride in their work, and they know their company produces a good, clean environmental product.
Regardless of one’s education, there are good business ownership opportunities leading to excellent life-long careers in forest and logging operations. The beginning of most careers involves on-the-job experience and training—followed by initiative to tackle greater responsibilities and working hard for advancement. Business management skills and experience are often learned by working your way “up the ladder” in related jobs, taking continuing education classes in business, and demonstrating excellent performance and leadership. Additional education from a technical school, community college or university will enhance career opportunities and advancement.
It’s common for many forest contract businesses to be run by “owner-operators.” The owner both manages their small company’s business functions, and works on the jobsite daily. These contract businesses concentrate in a forest management specialty (refer to list below). The owner-operator directs job production, contracting, budgets, logistics, and other business operations. The small firm employs workers, tools, machines, materials, and technology to complete forestry projects according to engineered designs and specifications.
Small Business Ownership Specialties in Forest Operations:
- Timber Falling/Cutting
- Logging, Ground-based
- Logging, Cable
- Chipping/Biomass Recovery
- Fuel Reduction/Slash Disposal
- Helicopter Operations
- Forest Road Construction
- Forest Road Maintenance
- Recreation Build & Maintain
- Rock Crush & Quarry Products
- Forestry Crew Services
- Forest Fire Services
- Trucking, Log/Chip/Lumber
- Heavy Equipment Hauling
- Allied Transport: Rail, Barge
- Sort Yard/Intermodal: Log, Chip
- Mechanical Repair Services
- Equipment/Truck Dealer
- Construction/Forestry Suppliers
- Logger's Supply/Saw Shop
- Timber Scaling & Measures
- Forestry Technician Services
- Forest Professional Consulting