The Forest Resources Association honored Comstock Woodlands, based in Hampden, Maine, as the 2013 National Outstanding Logger at its April 19 Annual Awards Luncheon in Jacksonville, Florida. FRA Chairman Tom Norris congratulated Comstock President Brian Bouchard and presented him with a special plaque, telling him, “Thank you, and congratulations to all of you again for all the good work you’ve done.”
STIHL Inc. Senior Product Manager Kent Hall also congratulated Bouchard and presented him with a $1,000 check and a STIHL MS461 chain saw.
Brian Bouchard thanked FRA and commented, “I’d like to accept this award on behalf of all of our employees. They truly earned this honor.”
Founded by the late Harold Bouchard to fill the void created by the closing of Great Northern’s network of company logging camps in northern Maine, Comstock Woodlands, now led by Harold’s son Brian and grandson Jeff, ably stepped up to the task. Currently employing 37, spread across 25 townships and 500,000 acres, and harvesting approximately 205,000 tons annually, Comstock Woodlands maintains a reputation for quality work, a quality workforce, a commitment to customer service, and “Safety, Safety, Safety.”
“From the top down, management takes a personal interest to promote a positive safety awareness and culture,” notes Mike St. Peter, Program Director for the Certified Logging Professional organization. “Supervisors with ‘boots on the ground’ reinforce the safety message daily.” All of Comstock’s logging workers are certified by Maine’s Certified Logging Professional program.
“I will refrain from raving about what they do, the stellar work they perform, and the caliber of their staff and crew, which are legendary,” states Prentiss & Carlisle President Don White. “I will say, however, because it is worthy of note, that they do it in a region that is so remote, you need to pack a lunch to drive far enough to get a cell phone signal.”
In spite of its far-flung operating network, the organization’s family atmosphere impresses. “A big piece of our success is our people,” notes Brian Bouchard. “You’ve got to have good, sound, quality people and be willing to pay them to work hard for four days and spend only three days at home with their families.” The company offers paid vacations, free short- and long-term disability insurance, profit-sharing, and a 401k plan to which the company contributes. Comstock also runs an in-house health and wellness program for its personnel.
Maine Senator Susan Collins writes, “Throughout the years, the Bouchard family has been a leader in helping to improve highway safety in Maine. In the early 1980s, Harold Bouchard was part of a group who suggested that Maine adopt a six-axle truck configuration at a more productive weight limit, which resulted in the fiber moving from the woods to the mills in a safe and more efficient manner. Recently, I worked very closely with Harold’s son, Brian, to successfully secure a provision to allow the heaviest trucks to drive on federal highways in Maine. The Bouchard family provided me with specific information and real-life examples, which helped me articulate the problem and convince my colleagues in both the House and Senate that this improvement was necessary for the safety of Maine’s citizens.”
FRA has honored 23 National Outstanding Loggers since establishing the national award in 1990. Recent National Outstanding Loggers include Tommy Barnes and David Cox, of Edgemoor, South Carolina (2007), David and Kurt Babineau, of West Enfield, Maine (2008), the partners of Redoutey Logging, McDermott, Ohio (2009), Cloquet, Minnesota’s Berthiaume Logging (2010), Paul and Mary Mitchell of Paul Mitchell Logging, of Tupper Lake, New York (2011), and the four partners of T.W. Byrd’s Sons, Inc. last year. Nominees for this year’s award passed through state-level recognition to regional award programs administered through FRA’s Regional Division structure. A jury of 25 national-level leaders in forestry and conservation selected the winner.
The Outstanding Logger program is designed:
- to recognize outstanding logging contractor performance;
- to raise the visibility of competent, professional independent logging contractors in the forestry community;
- to encourage other independent logging contractors to emulate the outstanding performance of the award winners; and
- to improve forester-logger relations by publicly recognizing outstanding logging performance as an essential element of every planned timber harvest.
The Forest Resources Association Inc. is a nonprofit trade association concerned with the safe, efficient, and sustainable harvest of forest products and their transport from woods to mill. FRA represents wood consumers, independent logging contractors, and wood dealers, as well as businesses providing products and services to the forest resource-based industries.