PHILOMATH — When he talks about being named the state’s “Logger of the Year” by the Associated Oregon Loggers, Lee Miller talks in terms of “we”:
“This award isn’t about me. It’s about my guys,” said Miller, 55, of Philomath. “Without them, I’d be a broke logger.”
The first mention of remote control yarders came in the mid-90s from some forest engineering professors who’d been traveling in Europe. Both the University of Washington’s Dr. Peter Scheiss, and later from Oregon State University’s Dr. John Garland, spoke of them as a possible solution for smaller logging operations because such a yarder would reduce the manpower needed to log, which reduced operating costs and improved the logger’s bottom line. But at that time until just a few years ago, no such yarder existed in North America.
Lee Miller, Chief Executive Officer, Miller Timber Services, Philomath, OR. Representing the Forest Engineering, Resources and Management Department, Lee Miller received a B.S. degree in Forest Engineering in 1980.
Philomath, Oregon – “Getting the job done whatever it takes” is the Miller Timber Way and that is at the heartbeat of Miller Timber Services, Inc. A 30-year old company, Miller timber is built on the traditions and heritage of the West. Miller Timber prides itself on upholding the Miller family heritage, which began in the small town of Siletz, Ore. Through the years, Miller Timber has relied on Ponsse equipment to power its cut-to-length operations.
Everyone in the company is called to “Ride for the brand.” They look out for one another. They watch each others’ backs.
While economic challenges are not new to the logging industry, logging communities in the United States have been particularly hard hit over the past three years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of loggers employed in the U.S. dropped from approximately 59,000 to 47,000 between December 2007 and December 2010 — a workforce reduction of twenty percent. Job losses have slowed in recent months, but the industry remains at extraordinarily low levels of employment. The prospects for recovery may well hinge on the industry learning from the past and adopting new operations and strategies going forward.
For some time now, the timber industry has been debating and experimenting with various approaches to creating and maintaining a sustainable yield as well as a stable market environment. The big challenge, of course, is that not all the factors that contribute to instability in the industry can be easily controlled.
Since there is no guaranteed blueprint for success in this business, each logging company has to look at their own needs and plans in their search to come up with a solution that fits. For Lee Miller of Miller Timber Services out of Philomath, Ore., that has meant focusing on how to create a sustainable business management model for a modern-day logging company as well as how to provide his employees with the kind of stable work environment where they can excel at their jobs without getting burned out.
PHILOMATH, Oregon — Sometimes finding the vocation to fill a lifetime in a satisfying way is as easy as getting up in the morning. A person just knows what he wants to do.
For as long as he can remember, Lee Miller wanted to own a logging business. Today, Lee owns Miller Timber Logging Inc., which along with L&B Reforestation Inc. belongs to a parent company called Miller Timber Services Inc.