It’s a Small (Forestry) World After All

It was a typical North Idaho snowy morning as I drove out to check on an active logging operation in Garfield Bay near Sandpoint, Idaho. I rounded a corner on Sagle Road to see a pickup truck in the ditch of the oncoming lane. I assessed the trucks predicament and after a quick chat with the driver, I got my tow strap out and was ready to hook it up when a propane delivery truck came by and offered to pull him out (more weight and tire chains). With a little tug the pickup was back on the roadway.

The driver thanked me for stopping to help and asked if I was a forester. His wife had pointed out to him I was wearing a University of Idaho Logger Sports sweatshirt. I introduced myself as a forestry consultant with Inland Forest Management and handed him my business card, wishfully thinking he might own some forestland nearby that I could help manage. As it turned out, he was also a forestry consultant from Shelton, Washington, temporarily house sitting for their daughter in our area. The world grew even smaller as we continued to chat on the side of the road and realized we were both members of the Association of Consulting Foresters, a national organization of consulting forestry professionals who manage private timberlands for forestland owners.

Of the hundreds of vehicles that travel this route every day, one of only a dozen ACF members within a 200 mile radius happened to be the one to stop, and, unknowingly, lend a hand to another fellow ACF colleague visiting from over 400 miles away. As foresters, we are uniquely aware of how relatively small our profession can feel at times, and even smaller still as a consulting forester. I hope to run into him again someday at a future ACF convention and we can laugh about our unlikely encounter.

Ryan Pennick, ACF


IFM: Forty Years and Growing

Forty years ago, about this time of the year, Dick Bradetich and Mike Wolcott walked into my office at the Idaho Department of Lands in Sandpoint.  They announced a start-up consulting forestry business – Inland Forest Management, Inc.

The Bradetich family had a long history involved with forestry, logging and forest products in Bonner County.  Mike grew up in Spokane but had roots on the family farm/forest in Worley, Idaho. While working together for the Oregon Department of Forestry in 1980, the seed germinated for starting a consulting forestry business in Sandpoint.

For the past four decades, I have observed IFM from two perspectives – first as a colleague with IDL and currently as a part-time employee.  Both have given me a deep respect and admiration for the IFM business model that Dick and Mike explained to me in 1984.

While internal company policies will state it slightly differently, I would paraphrase them by saying IFM places equal importance on three values: the forest, the client and the employee.  Each of these components must be considered in every project.  This has ensured the equal growth and protection of forestlands, satisfied clients and engaged employees.

Just as forests grow over time, so do businesses, including consulting forestry firms. Seedlings that IFM planted forty years ago have, in some cases, been precommercially thinned and commercially harvested. The company that started with two foresters has increased to a diverse staff of full-time and part-time employees who honor the three values of forest, client and employee.  Despite adverse terrain, steep brush and lousy weather, we work diligently to achieve our collective mission.

This issue of Tree Talk focuses on a significant milestone for IFM with the company’s acquisition by F&W Forestry based in Albany, Georgia.  From all appearances, this blending of resources will enhance IFM’s ability to serve its clients, while also creating long-term stability for employees and the company in general.

IFM employees met with leaders from F&W and Everwood (refer to the previous article regarding these companies) last November.  F&W’s presence in most forested regions of the US did not surprise me;  however, it was interesting to learn about their offices in the United Kingdom and South America.  And now through Everwood, the Georgia firm has a growing presence in Europe. It is exciting to see IFM is part of that international growth.

During the meeting, I asked one question, “Do you need a forester in County Kerry, Ireland?” The answer, “We have not announced that, why do you ask?” My wife, Marianne, immediately liked the possibility.

To Mike, Dick, Karen and all IFM employees and clients: Job well done! Now let’s look toward the future.  The seedling planted in 1984 is now part of a mature forest.  A forest which has not reached its full growth increment.

Bill Love, Certified Forester
IFM (2011-2024)


Change in IFM Ownership

In order to ensure long-term stability of Inland Forest Management, Inc. and as a nod to the fact that I’m not immortal, I have sold my IFM ownership interest to F&W Forestry Services of Albany, GA, one of the oldest and most highly regarded consulting forestry companies in the United States. Founded in 1962, F&W has a stellar reputation and provides a wide range of comprehensive forestry-related services, including management plans, timber sales, forest inventory, and forest-related real estate marketing. Like IFM, F&W shares the same company culture focusing on the client’s best interests and strictly adhering to a code of ethics. Additionally, F&W recently became affiliated with Everwood, an integral player in the international forestry world. Based in Paris, France, Everwood focuses on prudent forest management and wood energy. This adds up to a very positive development for all involved, including IFM clients and employees.

This decision was not made lightly. For many years Dick Bradetich and I considered numerous exit strategies. Dick was older than me, so he eventually retired, and I continued to pursue options. None of the IFM employees were interested in taking over the operation—they enjoyed too much what they were doing. The process continued as I evaluated many potential future owners, which involved traveling to six states and even overseas to Paris. As an aside, you can just imagine how out of my element I felt when this North Idaho dirt-kicking forester was interacting with high fluting, but very friendly, Parisians! Eventually it became very clear that F&W Forestry Services was by far the best option. I feel very fortunate to be passing the IFM baton to F&W.

Here are a few key points to keep in mind regarding the change in ownership:

  • I am not retiring and will remain an integral part of the company for the foreseeable future. Eventually a new IFM manager will be named, but I’ll remain on staff to mentor the new manager and continue to serve clients and employees.
  • Current IFM employees are committed to, and excited about, the new ownership. The forester you have worked with in the past will continue to serve you.
  • IFM will operate as it has before, except we and our clients will enjoy the significant benefits associated with F&W’s considerable knowledge and experience in cutting-edge technology, personnel support, and forest management resources.
  • The name “Inland Forest Management, Inc” will remain unchanged.

The new ownership has been in place for a few months now and I continue to be very impressed with F&W’s professionalism and approach to integrating IFM within their firm.  We have had multiple visits from talented company foresters, as well as from two captivating individuals from Paris. Throughout this process their emphasis has been on ensuring our clients receive the same, or better, service as they have in the past, taking care of IFM employees, and making the transfer of ownership as seamless as possible.

I am so thankful for all of you, as well as IFM employees past and present. This company would not be here without Dick and Karen Bradetich; can’t say enough about how much I appreciate them. I am also grateful for F&W and how they conduct their business and have embraced us.

Change is inevitable, both in the forest and with IFM. And just as we strive to do with your forest, this ownership change is being made to keep IFM sustainable and set to thrive into the future.

Again, please know IFM personnel, including me, are not going anywhere and we look forward to serving you in the future, just with enhanced resources.

Thank you,
Mike Wolcott, ACF, Certified Forester