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Timber Harvesting Safety

M.M. Wright, Inc.: FRA's 2018 National Outstanding Logger

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New Orleans, LA – The Forest Resources Association and STIHL Incorporated honored Frank Myers and Stephen Wright, co-owners of M.M. Wright, Inc. in Gasburg, Virginia, as FRA’s National 2018 Outstanding Logger at its Annual Awards Dinner in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 17.    

M.M. Wright, Inc. was founded by Muriel Wright, who received the 1991 National Outstanding Logger Award from the American Pulpwood Association (now the Forest Resources Assn.). M.M. Wright, Inc. is FRA’s national award winner again this year. After Muriel’s death in 1993, the company leadership passed to his son Stephen Wright and son-in-law Frank Myers.  Stephen and Frank have complementary talents.  Frank, a Virginia Tech Forestry graduate, is an industry activist who handles the harvesting, trucking, and timber buying operations.  Stephen is gifted with mechanical talents and handles the equipment sales, maintenance, and their mulch business.

Since taking over the family operation, Frank and Stephen have grown the business into six separate companies to handle the timber harvesting, trucking, wood procurement, equipment sales and service, mulch, and timberland ownership. M.M. Wright is now a full-service entity, with the same great reputation now that the company’s founder earned in the past. While Frank and Stephen are the main managers, both of their spouses and Frank’s son and daughter also work in the family business.

M.M. Wright operates four crews.  Three crews focus on thinning and one crew handles fuel chipping. The company purchases diesel fuel and other fluids in bulk and does all its maintenance in-house.  They have designed a portable fuel tank for woods use and will fabricate them for sale to other loggers, too.  

Stephen and Frank have put a lot of time into safety programs and practices.  Stephen developed a safety rewards program with quarterly and annual bonuses for truck drivers.  There are both “personal” and “team” awards, which makes safety everybody’s business.  The company has three “street sweeper” tractors to keep mud off public roads. All new hires are required to shadow experienced operators for hands-on training, observation, and evaluation.  Their safety program has kept their workers compensation insurance costs down—their Experience Mod factor is a very favorable 0.73.

Frank and Stephen are actively serving their community in several areas.  Frank’s industry and political leadership is especially impressive:  He serves on the Virginia Governor’s Board of Forestry, Virginia Loggers Association Board (and is a founding member), the Mecklenburg Electric Co-op Board, and the Virginia Self-Insurance Association Board. Frank was named the American Loggers Council’s National Logger Activist of the Year in 2015, and Frank and Stephen were Timber Harvesting Magazine’s Logging Business of the Year in 2016.

Recognizing M.M. Wright, Inc. as the first two-time winner of FRA’s National Outstanding Logger Award, FRA’s National Chairman Bill Johnson, Jr. presented Myers and Wright with a wooden plaque, and STIHL Incorporated’s Kent Hall presented them with a $1,000 check. Upon accepting the award, Frank encouraged the logger-mill-landowner forest industry segments to continue to tackle issues in common: “We’ve accomplished a lot in the legislature by working together.”  Stephen advised industry employees to “introduce your children to what we do and why we do it. Don’t let someone else tell your story.”

FRA’s Outstanding Logger Award program is designed to raise the visibility of professional logging contractors and to encourage other loggers to adopt the performance of the award winners. The Regional Award winner becomes a nominee for FRA’s National Outstanding Logger recognition.

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.

STIHL Incorporated serves as the sponsor of FRA’s Regional and National Outstanding Logger Awards.

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Pictured left to right: Denver Wright, Jenna Wells, Gunner Wells (baby), Erin Myers, Stephen Wright (back row), Drake Myers (baby), Travis Myers (back row), Frank Myers (back row), Susan Myers, Bill Johnson, Jr. (FRA National Chairman), Kent Hall (STIHL).