Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine nominates Voisine Bros. Inc. of Fort Kent for Northeastern Region Outstanding Logger Award
Nov. 12 2015
AUGUSTA – Two things have defined Voisine Brothers Inc. since Ben and Joe Voisine founded the first generation logging company in 1999 – professionalism and family.
“We take pride in working as a family,” Ben Voisine said recently of the Fort Kent-based company that today includes the brothers’ father, Gary Voisine. “Over the past 16 years, each of us has played an important role in making the business operate efficiently. We have worked hard at continually improving how we operate and adapt to the newest technology.”
Voisine Bros. Inc. (VBI), winner of the 2015 inaugural Professional Logging Contractors (PLC) of Maine Contractor of the Year Award, epitomizes the highest standards of safety, responsible forest management, professionalism, business savvy, and community stewardship of the logging industry in Maine. In recognition of this, the PLC has nominated the company for the Northeastern Region Outstanding Logger Award, given by the Forest Resources Association.
“The PLC is proud to recognize one of its own for this prestigious award,” said Dana Doran, Executive Director of the PLC. “Voisine Bros. is not only an outstanding example of a first generation family logging business that has a tremendous work ethic, but also one that is very cognizant of its impact upon the environment and how important it is to give back to its community.”
The company has come a long way since 1999. That year, Ben, a native of Fort Kent and recent graduate of the University of Maine’s School of Forestry, was working for Irving Forestland as a new forester. Irving had recently purchased the former Great Northern Paper Company land in Aroostook County and reached out to Ben to see if he was interested in starting his own logging business. Ben jumped at the opportunity, contacted his brother Joe, a recent graduate of Northern Maine Community College, and they were off and running as a two person logging operation.
In the beginning, Ben operated a feller buncher, while Joe ran a stroke delimber and the new company subcontracted a grapple and trucking to other companies. In 2000, they bought their own grapple, purchased a maintenance garage in New Canada and increased their employee count to three.
With Ben’s knowledge as a forester combined with the brother’s knack for business and adherence to highly professional standards, the new company soon established a reputation for responsible logging and flourished, growing to the point that after five years the brother’s asked their father, Gary, to join the company as a third partner, added a second complete harvesting system and grew their workforce to more than 10. In 2011 they added a cut-to-length system to their operations to meet landowner demands.
In 2010, Voisine Bros. became Master Logger Certified and the company has been through various successful third party audits. The company also joined the PLC in 2011 and continues to use these resources to improve their business. Today, 16 years after their start, Voisine Bros. has 3 harvesting systems, 7 machines, 18 total employees and now harvests more than 170,000 tons of timber annually, with crews working shifts around the clock at more than 40 weeks per year. All of the employees of Voisine Bros. are Certified Logging Professionals.
Voisine Bros. currently specializes in over story removal, seed tree harvesting, and selective cutting, which is typically prescribed by Ben or with the assistance of company foresters from Orion Timberlands, Seven Islands or Irving. The company maintains high standards in its work with landowners, adhering to Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) requirements. The company incorporates pre-harvest prescriptions and post-harvest inspections in its operations, and employs skid bridges and other techniques to minimize environmental impacts.
The reputation of VBI with landowners is a solid one, according to Kenneth Cyr, one of three Operations Superintendents in Maine for Irving Woodlands LLC.
“For over fifteen years VBI has contracted with Irving Woodlands,” Cyr said. “Year after year VBI have shown the ability to perform exceptionally well implementing various forest management prescriptions. They have run a professional logging business in the St. John Valley that employs many local people with good paying jobs, all while providing the highest level of safety. We look forward to working with VBI in upcoming years and congratulate them on their success.”
Maine Senator Peter Edgecomb representing District 1, R-Caribou, also lauded the company for its success and reputation.
“I extend congratulations and best wishes to Voisine Brothers, Inc. of Fort Kent for their role in supporting Northern Aroostook County’s economic future,” Senator Edgecomb said. “It is encouraging to see logging companies that use long term planning and have a concern for the environment while adhering to sustainable forestry practices.”
Maine Representative John Martin, D-Eagle Lake, also praised Voisine Bros.
“Congratulations to Voisine Bros. Inc., “ Rep. Martin, said. “They really are an outstanding example of the new generation of loggers in the northern Maine woods.”
Over the years, VBI has also become known for a strong commitment to safety, community involvement, and charitable causes. Ben, Joe and Gary look at their business and the industry in Aroostook Country holistically and do whatever they can to give back to their employees, their competitors and the next first generation logger who may come behind them.
During the past four years, Voisine Bros. has hosted three PLC spring safety trainings at their facility in New Canada. Their generosity in hosting these gatherings for their employees and those of their competitors has been greatly appreciated. This is also indicative of their approach to safety and the important role it plays in their business.
Voisine Bros. is also very committed to their community and the longevity of the logging industry. In each of the last three years, the Voisine’s have traveled to Augusta for the PLC’s annual legislative breakfast and have been one of the only contractors from the Fort Kent area able to attend. In 2014, Voisine Bros. contacted the local technical high school in Frenchville and asked if the school could restart a logging training program to produce the next generation of operators. The school said yes and started a program in the fall of 2014.
Gary Voisine has also played a significant role on the steering committee for the Northern Maine Forestry Cluster, an economic development initiative that is trying to remove barriers for the forest economy in northern Maine. Gary is the chair of the transportation subcommittee and is passionate about making positive changes to regulatory environment that oversees transportation issues for logging contractors.
As their involvement with the PLC has grown, the Voisine’s have also become strong supporters of charitable causes supported by the organization including the annual Log A Load For Kids campaign.
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.
The FRA established the Outstanding Logger Awards program in 1990 to recognize outstanding logging contractor performance; raise the visibility of competent, professional independent logging contractors in the forestry community; encourage other independent logging contractors to emulate the outstanding performance of the award winners; and improve forester-logger relations by publicly recognizing outstanding logging performance as an essential element of every planned timber harvest.
Maine’s loggers are a vital part of the state’s forest products sector, which is worth an estimated $8 billion annually.
The PLC of Maine was formed in 1995 to give independent logging contractors and sole proprietors a voice in a rapidly changing forest industry. A Board of Directors made up entirely of loggers makes the PLC the only logging organization in Maine run by loggers for loggers. The mission of the PLC is to promote logging as a profession, advocate for logging professionals, cultivate responsible forest management, and sustain a strong forest products industry.
Learn more about the PLC at www.maineloggers.com.
Ben Voisine (at right) with some members of the Voisine Brothers Inc. crew
Joe Voisine, warm in the cab of a delimber working in a snowstorm.
Gary Voisine with grandson Matthew a few years ago. Matthew is 11 now.
Employee Dan Lizotte with a VBI skidder.
VBI logs headed for market.
A VBI log yard.
VBI heavy equipment on the move.