Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Gheen logger gains national honor

Marshall Helmberger
Posted 6/19/19

GHEEN—Cliff Shermer says his logging business based here remains a “mom and pop” operation— but that hasn’t stopped his small company from making a name for itself at the national level. …

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Gheen logger gains national honor

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GHEEN—Cliff Shermer says his logging business based here remains a “mom and pop” operation— but that hasn’t stopped his small company from making a name for itself at the national level. Indeed, the Forest Resources Association and STIHL Inc. recently honored Gheen-based Cliff Shermer Logging with the title of National Outstanding Logger of the Year during its national convention held last month in Fernandina Beach, Fla.

It’s just the latest recognition for this small North Country business, which won the same designation for the FRA’s Lakes States region earlier this year. Shermer Logging was also named Minnesota Logger of the Year last year by the Minnesota Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

Shermer and his wife Mary have run the family logging business for 29 years. Their operation employs nine full-time and four part-time workers, and Cliff was quick to give the credit to his employees. “It’s said to succeed in business you’d either better be really smart or be able to hire people who are dedicated and smart. I think in our case it’s the latter,” he said. “Seriously, though, we have some really skilled guys who take a lot of responsibility for our success.”

Tim O’Hara, of the FRA’s Lake States region, credited Cliff and Mary for their company’s success and said they are both well-deserving of the honor. “Shermer Logging is known for working with family forest owners,” noted O’Hara. That’s different from most loggers, who tend to focus on public lands to access their wood. “I think that’s what attracted the attention of the others in the industry,” said Shermer. “We hired a retired DNR forester to meet with the private landowners and help them develop their own management plans. Some are looking for money, others want deer habitat. We’ve even done cuts for warbler habitat.”

O’Hara said such innovations are one reason that Cliff Shermer Logging is so respected within the industry.

Shermer has long been an advocate for the timber industry and for improving the practices of loggers— and he talked about that in accepting his most recent award. He touted the statewide forest management guidelines developed by the state of Minnesota in the 1990s. “These guidelines cover everything from road building, forest regeneration, riparian management, and wildlife habitat. The guidelines have raised the level of professionalism for the logging community,” said Shermer.

Shermer, who has worked in logging since returning to the region after ten years of military service, said it’s been a time of rapid change within the industry, and logging operations that have survived have had to manage their operations closely and pay attention to the increasingly volatile wood markets. The loss of the Ainsworth OSB plant ten years ago was a major test for loggers in the region, but Shermer was able to adjust, taking advantage of new markets, such as biomass, to maintain profitability.

In addition to a plaque, STIHL Inc. awarded Shermer with a check for $1,000, which Shermer donated to the Log-A-Load for Kids-Gillette Children’s Hospital program.

The Forest Resources Association (FRA) represents the interests of nearly 300 organizations and businesses in the forest products industry. FRA members include forest landowners, suppliers, consuming mills, associated businesses, and state forestry associations.

 

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