We are an industry of people greater than just loggers and flannel shirts. There are 1.7 million people directly employed in the forest products industry from planting, growing, managing, harvesting of trees and production of wood and paper products in the United States.
The forest products industry is among the top ten manufacturing employers in 42 states with an annual payroll of $54 Billion and annual sales of $200 Billion, which represents 6% of the GDP. But, if you ask many within our industry, they would say it is a "family business". This is not far off when you consider the fact that most of our industry employees have followed in their parents and grandparents footsteps; working in forestry, logging, and manufacturing.
Funny how an industry can be similar in size to the automotive and plastics industries but be so diversified across thousands of companies that are frequently the cornerstone of many small towns throughout our country.
In an industry comprised of family owned businesses, it is not hard to understand that over 291 million acres of active timberland or 58% of our nation's growing forests are owned and managed by 10 million private landowners. This equates to an average of 29 acres per landowner, which certainly brings into perspective the fact that timber and the forest products industry is steeped in family tradition.
You'd be hard-pressed to find another industry as diverse and global in scale but as local as many of our industry business are, that can invoke the emotion, folklore, and tradition of a common mythical legend as that of Paul Bunyan and his faithful Ox, Babe.
What would Paul think if he could see the fruits of his passion when you consider that our industry plants an average of 4 million trees per day, or more than 5 new trees for every man, woman, and child in America.