Name: Shane Gaither
Job Title: Area Manager, Forestry for a wood pulp mill, Woodchip Quality Consultant
Where: Jessup, GA
Years of Experience: 2 years as Area Manager, 10 years in the forestry industry
Salary: $70K + (For consulting my pay rate is $1350 per day)
Employer: Rayonier Performance Fibers
Education: MS Forestry Degree, University of Tennessee (and of course, the education that only raising two sons can provide)
Forestry Careers: Manager Salary
Forestry careers offer managers the opportunity to work outside the traditional office setting. Shane Gaither, who works in the forestry industry as an Area Manager for a wood pulp mill, knew he didn’t want to sit in a cubicle all day. While in college, Shane became interested in forestry careers and is now in charge of a crew of workers and woodchip screening equipment. He recently took a break from the woods to speak with us about forestry careers, the advantages of forestry industry jobs, forestry degrees and working as a manager in the forestry industry.
Area Manager/Forestry Job Description:
My forestry job is to manage 25 union workers who maneuver 3 million tons of woodchips through our process on an annual basis. I have an $8 million budget, not counting the cost of the wood. I’m responsible for over $1 million in equipment, including woodchip screening equipment. Woodchips are broken down to the pure cellulose level. That cellulose is used in many products, like beverages, computer screens, cigarette filters, sausage casings and medical supplies.
Why did you pursue a forestry degree?
I’m not sure why I majored in forestry – I just said, “I want to work with trees from the stump to the end product” and they signed me up for forest management. I started out in computer science, but did I really want to sit in a cubicle all day? No. I’ve always been very mechanically inclined, so all of the heavy equipment – skitters, dozers (bulldozers) cranes, diesel trucks were really appealing to me.
I started working with the saw mills that produced chips as the byproduct of their process. This put me in close proximity to the saw mills. These are not saw mills on ebay, but serious equipment. I applied my statistics background as a forester to quality control for chips and how that translated to dollars through a digester – a big crock pot that you put chips in to cook them under pressure.
What do you love about working as an area manager as opposed to another forestry job?
Problem solving – the mechanical side, working through the logistical issues, the team play to make things happen. When I see a big 42-inch plasma screen TV, I feel the glow, those are my woodchips. People are fascinated when they learn what a big part of their computer screen is woodchips, aspirin, pancake syrup, screwdriver handles, makeup, explosives, toothpaste… the list is endless.
What’s the typical area manager salary in the forestry industry?
The typical manager salary in the forestry industry is $65k to $85k. A lot of the forestry manager’s salary is based on experience and location.
What’s the oddest thing that has happened to you in your forestry career?
My whole life is bizarre. Everything about my work is bizarre to most people. When I go to a playground, I analyze woodchips and start looking around for woodchip screening equipment.
What’s the worst part of being in the forestry industry?
Engineers are boring. I wanted to be one until I started working with them, now I’m glad that I’m in forestry. They are some of the most uninteresting, unimaginative individuals that I’ve ever known.
Who would of thought cellulose was part of so many products?
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