Attendance essential for success in timber industry jobs

By Barry H. Hendrix

“Showing up for work is the biggest responsibility,” said Steve Crowley, president of Scotch Land Management, LLC, in Fulton. “A person that does not show up for work is not going to be employed very long.” With technology today, in the form of smart phones, it is very easy to call your employer and tell them of any problems coming to work, Crowley said. “You have to let your boss know – because other people have to take up your slack.
“If you are in a mill position…or a logging crew…or in a shipping department, and you don’t show up – and they don’t know where you are – somebody there has to be pulled away from what they’re supposed to be doing.”
The Thomasville City Schools District is sponsoring an initiative called “Attendance Counts.” Students from pre-K to 12th grade are encouraged to come to school, be on time and develop good working habits that will serve students well after graduation in the workforce. The school system has a goal for the 2019-2020 school year to realize a five-percent reduction in chronic absenteeism.
Terry Norton, attendance director for the school system, spoke to Crowley concerning good attendance and developing a solid work ethic.
Dependability is key in a potential employee, Crowley said. “We can train them for anything else. I like a young person who comes in and is excited about having a job.
“…We look at our staff as a partnership,” he said. “We’re going to be on time when we’re paying our people. …We’re going to have safety meetings, and we want them to use their personal protection equipment. We have a responsibility to employees to get them home safe and train them on how to do their job.
“…We expect the same thing from our employees. It is a shared responsibility. Things happen. There are health issues, accidents, and (issues involving) children…but I have very little tolerance with an employee who just does not show up for work and I don’t know where they are.”
As part of a high school sports team, students are trained that their particular position is crucial to the success of the whole team, Crowley said. “If you are on a football team, and you are a guard and you’ve got a player you’re supposed to pull, you’ve got to make your assignment. …You focus in on your assignment.”
Employees not being at work, on time, are not being considerate of other employees. “You’re wasting other people’s time,” he said.
In the school setting as well as business, “you have only so many hours in the day. You’ve got a schedule that you’re going to be on.” The more days a student is absent from school could lead to deficiencies in reading and math, failing subjects and eventually dropping out of high school.
Potential employees for a land management company must have fundamental math, computer software and communication skills, he said. As with all business today, technology is an important factor. Land managers depend on GPS technology and even drones. …It’s a whole new world out there.”
In business, “we’re competing against other companies,” Crowley said. “We want people who will perform their responsibilities, because we have to make money to stay in business. …It takes everybody performing up to their level best. …There’s a certain amount of pressure on everybody to do the very best they can.
“…We don’t have a high turnover rate. We’ve got employees that have worked at Scotch for many, many years. …We care about those employees. …We want the very best for them and their families.”
Safety is the utmost for jobs in the timber industry. Potential employees must have attention to detail, and pay attention to the use of equipment and necessary safety equipment. An example would be running a chain saw, he said. Not wearing protective chaps and a hard hat is a serious violation. A carryover from being a responsible student in the school system would be following instructions in the workplace.
Clarke County is the part of the wood basket for the Alabama timber industry. “We’ve got 330,000 acres of timberland under our management,” Crowley said of Scotch Land Management. There are employment opportunities in numerous mills in Southwest Alabama from Scotch Plywood (Fulton), Canfor Southern Pine (Fulton), Louisiana Pacific (Thomasville), Georgia Pacific (Pennington and Perdue Hill), Boise (Jackson), International Paper (Pine Hill) and new Westervelt Lumber mill under construction south of Thomasville. There are also logging crews and other related contractors. “They are here because we are growing that resource. It takes people to make it work.
“…There’s a lot of jobs here,” he said. “…It’s important to show young people that there are real careers (in the timber industry).” There are a variety of positions available in the timber business including mechanical, clerical, sales and shipping. And there is potential for advancement. “We want quality people.
“…I would like to see young people stay in Clarke County (and surrounding counties).”
(Pictured is Steve Crowley, president of Scotch Land Management, LLC, in Fulton; and Terry Norton, attendance director for the Thomasville City Schools District.)
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