By ALC President – Mike Wiedeman
Winter is still hanging on in the high country. We have had a skiff of snow the last few mornings. I don’t know if winter is getting longer or as I get older I just notice it more. I tend to stay by the fire a little longer and look for excuses not to go outside till it warms up.
At first I thought it might be just in the Northwest but as I travel around the country I see a trend that is to large to ignore. I am not alone when it comes to getting older. Data indicates that the average age of logging contractors is on the long side of 55. In one sense the logging industry is blessed with a wealth of experienced professionals that have seen it all before and realize what goes around comes around and don’t panic over issues that they have no control over but without an infusion of new blood all that experience will do little good in the future.
Generational transition, retirement, and personal health are items we all need to meet head on. We can ill afford to continue to put off these issues and expect them to take care of themselves.
Generational transition is a complicated issue that needs professional guidance. We all hate to pay for legal advice; but in the case of passing on your business to your heirs, legal and financial advice from professionals is critical if you want to have anything to pass on. Federal and state capital gains taxes can be avoided but it takes time. You have worked too hard to give the bulk of your assets to the government just because you put off estate planning, don’t put it off any longer.
Is retirement a curse or a blessing? I guess it all comes down to planning and perception. If you have taken adequate steps to prepare, then retirement can be a blessing, if not, watch out. You need to focus on retirement with the same energy and vision that you put into your business decisions. It is easy to put issues of retirement on the back burner and the “I’ll get to that later” syndrome is just a poor excuse not a real malady.
I don’t have a very good track record when it comes to this issue. It is easy to talk the talk, walking the walk is a different story. The decision comes down to putting personal assets into your business and planning for the future or winding down and looking towards retirement. Each of us has an obligation to our families to take a realistic look and make the tough decision.
Sometimes it takes a lightning bolt to start a forest fire and some times it takes just a spark from a cable rubbing on a rock. The results may be the same but the causes are dramatically different.
I was struck by that lightning bolt about six weeks ago. A close personal friend of more than thirty years had a debilitating stroke. He is the kind of person we all aspire to be. He never said no to anyone’s’ request for help. He was the consummate volunteer; first to arrive and last to leave. The one thing he didn’t do was take care of his own health. He always had an excuse for not going to the doctor for a checkup.
Look, you are no good to anyone if you are pushing up daisies or worse yet a medical burden to your family. Get an appointment with a physician – actually go, and if they request follow up, do it!
“To each his sufferings: all are men,
Condemn’d alike to groan,
The tender for another’s pain,
The unfeeling for his own,
Yet ah! Why should they know their fate,
Since sorrow never comes to late,
And happiness to swiftly flies?
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,
‘Tis folly to be wise……..Thomas Gray – 1716-1771
Mike Weideman is the President of the American Loggers Council, which represents over 50,000 logging professionals in 30 states. Mike’s operation, BTO Logging, is headquartered in Enterprise, Oregon. For more information please contact the American Loggers Council office at 409-625-0206 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.