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Author Topic: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?  (Read 991 times)

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Offline danreed76

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Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« on: April 12, 2019, 06:01:16 PM »
We've begun the search for a consulting forester as we're planning to heavily thin our 45 acres, and even clear cut parts of it to develop pasture.  There's probably 12-14 acres of good pine, 6 or so acres of hardwood with good quality pine scattered through it, and the rest is mixed hardwood of varying ages and qualities.

I've had several folks out to look at it with interest anywhere from "too small a job for us" to "this is small, but great quality, we'd love to do business".  So far all the ones to come out the forester and timber buyer are the same person.

So, the question is... should I be looking for an independent forester, and if so, where do you begin the search?  Only one timber buyer so far has been willing to discuss (estimated) money (the rest have said "We'll just go by the load and see where we end up".  For a 45 acre tract, am I leaving money on the table by not finding an independent consultant?  I've been going off the GA forestry webpage in my search and it seems like all the registered foresters I've contacted have their own crews... where else do I look?
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Offline Woodpecker52

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2019, 06:31:48 PM »
Consulting Forester!  If the forester is a timber buyer they use to use the term "pin hooker" and he was usually serving as a middle man. If he works for a company then he WORKS FOR THE COMPANY! You should have a forester on your side and not A$% backerds!  Foresters are suppose to be registered and that use to have a professional meaning ethically.   You need to have an idea of the volume of timber you have for sale, then contact buyers and mills in the area etc.  It will cost you a fee and upfront costs to hire a consultant forester but he will save you big time in the long run.
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Offline danreed76

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2019, 06:50:30 PM »
That's kind of what I was wondering.  To be clear, these guys don't rep for the mills, etc, but they have their own logging companies, crews, etc.  Seems a bit like the fox guarding the henhouse...
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Offline barbender

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2019, 08:52:46 PM »
It can be, for sure. I had a friend that ran cut to length equipment down in Ga for about 7 years...he didn't have a real high opinion of a lot of the foresters he worked with down there. I know there are good foresters down there, not trying to paint with too broad of a brush. It's more the "system" that is in place. His experience was that a lot of these guys would set jobs up, not for what was in the landowners best interest, but what would make the forester the most money. And in GA, the timber must be bought by a forester (if the law hasn't changed). Find a consulting forester, one that is only working for you.
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Offline Texas Ranger

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2019, 08:58:23 PM »
Not all loggers that call themselves consultants are Consulting Foresters, but forestry consultants, subtle but a dangerous difference for land owners.  Get a certified consulting forester and be safe.
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Offline Southside

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2019, 11:34:51 PM »
Ask yourself, would you use the same attorney who was on the other side to represent you in a legal matter? That is basically the situation you described above. 
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2019, 11:57:20 PM »
Forester is a qualification and a job title, nothing more. 

Who the forester works for is the real question. They can work for a timber company, for the Govt, for themselves, or ideally for you (a Consulting forester).

If you end up working with a "procurement" forester, then it's up to you to check their reputation / previous jobs, and get a few bids on the job. Not saying they are dishonest, but their incentive is naturally to pay the least they have to to obtain the logs (then sell them for the maximum profit). It's difficult for you as the landowner to know the value of different logs, hence getting the bids to "keep them honest". And checking previous jobs to make sure they did good honest work. 
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2019, 06:25:45 AM »
I've worked both sides of the business.  I've worked as a consulting forester to landowners, loggers, and sawmills.  There is no difference in the quality of the work I do.  All that changes is who pays me.  Landowners know that up front who I'm working for.  Too often the landowner assumes the buyer pays me.

In all the sales I handled, the timber had an estimate of volume and an estimated value.  If the logger is paying me, they get the sale information.  If the landowner is paying me, they get the sale information and the timber is normally put out on bids.  I've had a few instances where the landowner handled the sale, but paid me to do a timber valuation.  Contracts are drawn up and timber is paid for in advance of any cutting, regardless of who is paying my bill.  

Most consultants don't have a crew.  As pointed out, loggers will represent themselves as consultants.  They'll do the deciding on what stays and what goes.  Unfortunately, what goes is what they have a market for, and what stays is the junk.  Some consulting foresters are no better at management than some loggers.  High grading can be practiced both.

The question is whether you'll leave money on the table.  The difference between the bid price to a consultant and a bid price from a mill has to be better than the consultants fees.  I have always felt that at a minimum, a landowner can do best to have someone mark the timber in a responsible way and have the value and volume estimation.  This helps both the buyer and the seller.  

If the forester handles the sale, he'll get paid a percentage.  If he's marking and not selling, you'll pay either a per diem rate or a per Mbf rate.  You can solicit the bids, like you're doing now.  You'll also have to collect money and do contract administration.  It is usually worthwhile to have the forester check the job for any abnormalities.  

One practice I have never liked is paying by the load or paying on shares.  By the time any trouble arises, the timber is gone and getting the money can be a major problem.  Payments by this method has the landowner rely on both the honesty and marketing skills of the logger.  You'll never know how much you left on the table, because you'll never know how much it was worth when you started.  
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Offline ellmoe

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2019, 06:44:36 AM »
  In the SE it is more common than not that sales are done by the ton with a weekly settlement . On lump sum bids the purchase price is usually less than what will be paid on a per ton basis. Pine is relatively cheap , especially when dealing with pulpwood . The money is not there for a full cruise so there is usually an educated guess as to volumes , classes , etc.. As a bidder in a lump sum you don't want to overbid , so you lower your price to be " safe". By the load , you know what you are getting and selling . In this situation a deposit can be made covering the first weeks or two's payment to help protect the landowner. The landowner needs to know where the loads are going , get a scale ticket for each load , and have a way to count the loads.
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Offline danreed76

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2019, 07:49:23 AM »
Excellent feedback, Gents, and thank you all.

We're still on the hunt, with a few more to talk to next week.  Got one phone call yesterday from someone offering to come give us an opinion, but gets paid by the hour for the initial consultation.  Is that normal?
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2019, 08:03:01 AM »
Others might, but I have never charged for initial consultation. 
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2019, 01:03:42 PM »
Good advice has been given.

Not all foresters are certified by their peers, but even certified foresters can work for different employers and will perform under the best interests of their employer as has been stated. You should have a professional "independent" consulting forester working directly for you who should perform for "your" best interests and land management objectives.

You may get some references from your local conservation district forester, state service forester or at Home.

Offline Woodpecker52

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2019, 07:23:47 PM »
Most states require a Forester be Registered and meet certain educational degree  requirements.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2019, 08:28:41 AM »
And in GA, the timber must be bought by a forester (if the law hasn't changed). Find a consulting forester, one that is only working for you.
Anyone can buy timber, but if you are being paid to give Forestry advice, you have to be a Registered Forester.
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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #14 on: April 14, 2019, 10:57:23 AM »
Thanks Danny, I guess I misunderstood that (or got wrong information)?
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Offline WDH

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Re: Forester and timber buyer; same person.... Thoughts?
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2019, 07:27:13 AM »
You cannot represent yourself as a Forester that charges fees if you are not Registered here with the State of Georgia. 

A landowner is free to sell to anyone that they choose.  It is wise to have background info on any purchaser, and it is doubly wise to have a written contract with all the agreed upon terms in writing.  There is nothing wrong with a Registered Forester buying timber for the company that they work for as long as they are not charging a landowner for selling their timber and managing the harvest on behalf of the landowner.  That is an obvious conflict of interest.  If a Registered Forester is selling timber on behalf of a landowner, they should have no financial interest with any potential buyer. 

I have bought many of a tract of timber for the large timber company that I worked for, but always as a representative of the Company, not the landowner.  In fact, it was against Company policy for me to individually and independently offer services to a landowner for a fee in any respect as I was an employee of the Company and must represent the Company in all transactions. 
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