Timbermen’s group a top state organization


One of our great organizations in Michigan is the Michigan Association of Timbermen. Of course, the lumber industry is a very significant part of our overall Michigan economy, and it certainly is a very substantial positive part of the economy of the Upper Peninsula. The overall objective of the Michigan Association of Timbermen is to serve as a trade association. It was founded in 1972 to provide representation and services for business people in Michigan’s vast forest products industry. Today, let me give you some information about this great association of very hard working Michigan citizens that contribute significantly to our economy.

Here is one popular definition of a timberman, also previously referred to as a lumberjack. These timbermen are workers in the  logging industry who work very hard to perform the initial harvesting and transport of trees for ultimate processing into many various forest products. Our course, we all need and use many varieties of these forest products in the construction of our homes, as furniture, and so many other essential wood products. All of us certainly use many, many wood products each and every day. Further, our dedicated Michigan timbermen go to great lengths to protect our forests that truly are an extremely valuable renewable Michigan natural resource.

In the late 1960’s several forestry leaders prepared a project proposal that formed the Upper Great Lakes Timber Inc. Timber Inc. had a broad mandate to work on important forestry problems, using existing information. It was a demonstration project, not a research program. Over the next several years, through 1971, over 100 volunteers served on the Timber, Inc. projects. Logging equipment was tested in the field by loggers; small landowners were introduced to technical and cost sharing projects; and business problems were identified. They served all of us in the State of Michigan so very well.

The high cost of workers’ compensation insurance, the need for improved relations with governmental leaders and support for our forests by the public, emerged as their highest priority work. This led to several organizations being formed. In 1972, the Michigan Association of Timbermen was formed to represent our Michigan forestry businesses. Additionally, the Michigan Forest Association was formed to work on special needs of forest land owners who own and manage over 50 percent of our forests. Then, in 1974, the Michigan Association of Timbermen formed their self-insurers’ fund. This was Michigan’s first self-insured group offering workers compensation insurance. It focused on forest product companies. This was a direct result of the successful legislative work by Timber Inc. and various timbermen leaders.

Further, the Michigan Association of Timbermen formed its own insurance agency in 1991. Forest Insurance Center Agency, Inc. was tasked with providing all other types of insurance. From the early days of opening its doors to now, Forest has grown from starting up with no premium dollars to an agency system that has three agencies: Forest Insurance Center Agency, Inc., Mauck Insurance Agency, Inc. and Loggers Insurance Agency II, LLC.  These agencies operate in Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota and are very close to $20 million in written premiums. Profits are distributed at the direction of a board of directors to benefit representation in Lansing and Madison on behalf of the forest products industry.

Because of the great initiatives and programs, Michigan became a model for others to follow as forestry expanded from less than 50,000 forestry employees in Michigan in 1970, to over 200,000 today. This association is also very involved in public outreach to provide valuable education to the public about this very important Michigan industry. In this regard, they have produced numerous educational programs, forestry tours, and they have also produced award winning videos. For more information about this great Michigan industry, please visit their website at www.timbermen.org.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Dr. Jim Surrell is the author of “The ABC’s For Success In All We Do” and the “SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet” books. Requests for health topics for this column are encouraged. Contact Dr. Surrell by email at sosdietdoc@gmail.com.