Larry Jackson, Tongass Forest Enterprises
14948 N. Tongass, Ketchikan, AK 99901 | (907) 225-1501 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.akforestenterprises.com
I source most of my wood from other mill operators including some on Prince of Whales and also buy individual logs from the U.S. Forest Service.
I wanted to promote the use of Alaskan wood in order to keep money and resources here. Unfortunately, the status quo in our state is exporting unprocessed wood in the form of logs. I believe that every board foot that is kept in Alaska has exponential economic benefit and by doing additional drying, planing and product manufacturing we add value which translates to additional money remaining in the communities. I also strongly believe in promoting the sustainable use of old-growth wood. The old-growth forest in Alaska contains some of the most beautiful and high quality wood in the world, and there is a great marketing opportunity to sell such a premium product. Effective management of old growth forests will ensure that this exclusive resource is available far into the future and Southeast Alaska can continue to market a more valuable product.
What is the most rewarding thing about your work?
I love driving around town and being able to see out products everywhere. The siding, houses, lodges, and floors that are made of our wood have become a permanent part of the community infrastructure. Beyond that, I also genuinely believe that having a small business creates a richer community. I have developed relationships with other operators and the companies I buy my wood from as well as my customers. I know my products contributed to our community independence and by providing jobs we continue to prove that we live in a resource rich area where we can create beautiful products with local origins. Another really rewarding thing about my work is learning that when dealing with resources, we need to work out of a sense of gratitude, not out of a sense of entitlement. We didn't put the forest here, and it is a gift to be able to work with it. In the wok that we do, it is important to honor that, and I try to carry that humility with me when running my operation.
I teach woodshop at the high school, and I donate seconds from my business to the students and it is wonderful to watch them work with something that I know comes from around here. I don’t think they always realize that they are working with some of the best wood in the world, but I try to share that with them, and it is fun to watch people learn using something I helped create.
Where do you see your business going in the future?
This summer, I plan to install a wood pellet production line to further use our wood bi-product. These pellets will help to heat our local library, museum and fire house. This one product will help make Southeast Alaska an energy independent region and wean us off fossil fuels. It is important for me to compliment my products with things that use the bi-products of production. It cuts down on waste and helps me run a more efficient business.
Where do you see the industry going?
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I really would like to challenge the citizens of Alaska to examine their purchasing choices. Purchasing wood products from a local manufacturer keeps capital in the region which in turn helps keep our economy stable.
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