Mississippi Forestry Association Names 2017 Logger Of The Year


Imagine a lumberjack, an ax slung across one shoulder and a chain saw in the other hand. While the image is endearing, that was your father’s or grandfather’s logger. “We don’t even have a chain-saw on any of our crews. Not an ax either. The insurance companies don’t want it. The timber industry has changed … it’s all about safety and conservation and efficiency,” says Pheba’s Rodney Johnson, whose Johnson Timber Co. has been named Logger of the Year by the Mississippi Forestry Association. Johnson should know. He’s a third-generation logger, picking up the business from his grandfather and father. And he is passing the ax, so to speak. His two sons — Joseph Johnson and Michael Patterson — work with the company, which employs about 30 people. His grandson and granddaughter, although young, obviously have timber and logging in their blood. “My 7-year-old grandson doesn’t play with anything but logging equipment and toys. And ask the 4-year-old granddaughter her name and she’ll say McKinley Grace Johnson Timber Company. “And don’t try to tell her anything different,” he says, the pride oozing out with every word. Since he’s been in the woods almost all his life, Johnson has seen the industry change from the days his dad would hand cut and load a railroad car to today’s modern machinery. “In 1976 and 1977 when I was a senior in high school, I had a 1966 Chevrolet one-ton truck. After school every day I’d cut a load by hand and load it in the truck by hand,” he recalls. “Not today. We haul 500 to 600 truck loads a week now. The machines have made a big difference. Even in just the last 10 years, they are bigger and more efficient. The productivity is so advanced. It’s not the labor intensive industry everyone remembers,” he explained, noting a pole saw is the closest thing to a chain-saw or ax his crews carry. Located on Highway 389 in the middle of Pheba — “We pretty much are Pheba,” he says — Johnson Timber runs seven crews, buying and cutting timber across Northeast Mississippi and Northwest Alabama. He actually has a crew in Texas now as well. They buy their own timber, from the pine that spreads almost everywhere across rural Mississippi and Alabama, to hardwoods. From the Daily Times Leader: http://www.dailytimesleader.com/content/top-logger-has-deep-roots-clay-county