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Succession Planning: Passing Your Operation and Equipment to the Next Generation

By Sarah Clausen, Global HR Director, John Deere Worldwide Construction & Forestry Division

Three forestry workers posing for a picture

The future of the forestry industry is dependent not only on current logging business owners, but also the individuals who will take over their operation in the future. With the aging workforce becoming a major concern, it is now more important than ever for forest industry professionals to have a succession plan in place to ensure that the continuity of their business is preserved from one generation to the next.


To help you get started, here are simple steps you can take to help preserve your logging operation's rich heritage of providing quality work in the years to come.


  • Communication – Open lines of communication among family members and business partners is a simple first step in succession planning. Be sure all parties are aware of your current and future business goals, and assign responsibilities. Let your succession planning become an organic part of all business discussions.


  • Consult With Professionals – Learn about your options. Succession planning is not something you should do alone. Every business, situation and family is different, so be sure to consult with qualified professionals to help you develop a plan that suites your needs. Work with legal, accounting and financial professionals who are experienced in the field, and who can help ensure that, when the time comes, your equipment and operation will be well positioned for transition.


  • Prepare Your Future Workforce – Whether your logging operation includes just a few machines or a large fleet, ensuring your crew has proper training and education is crucial to your succession plan, and will have a big impact on your bottom line. Ensuring you have a skilled and well-trained work force in place, will provide peace of mind for future management of your operation.


  • Mentor Your Successor – As a business owner, one of the greatest investments you can make as part of your succession plan is in your people, and Chad Nimmer, Forester and Owner at Pierce Timber/Suwannee Forest Products in Fargo, Georgia is a shining example. Nimmer is a recognized business leader in the forestry industry, and through the transition of partnerships, had the opportunity to acquire 100 percent ownership of a family owned business that wasn't his own. Nimmer credits much of his success to his business partner and mentor throughout the process who showed him the great opportunities and rewards one can achieve as a logging professional through investments of time, hard work and dedication.


While you may not be thinking about exiting the business just yet, taking steps to prepare for a smooth leadership transition now is crucial for your business' longevity and ability to succeed without you when the time comes.