A Forester’s Tribute to Soren Eriksson (1938-2017)

by  Jeff Jenkins | Director, Fiber Supply
What if you were asked to share your thoughts and experiences of someone who had made a significant impact in your life? You would consider what they did, what they said, their actions, their feelings, important things they taught you, their concern for others, their reputation, etc. Soren Eriksson was one of those individuals many of us would say made an everlasting impression on our lives. And that is where I would like to begin.

SorenSoren made a lasting impression on me and he impacted my life in many ways. Over the years, I learned so much about the man and his mission. His approach to logger and chain saw operator training started with respect. He would look you right in the eyes, give you a hearty two-handed handshake and share a bigger than life smile that would always leave you asking yourself “who is this guy?” His conversation could be about anything because he wanted to know you! He used his “Swinglish” (Swedish accent with English words) to make sure that he always had the edge. When he didn’t understand your English, he would just turn it around so you had a harder time with his “Swinglish.”

His approach to training was unique. He understood that everyone had something to offer. He not only trained loggers but he was in training himself. He would say that he was “stealing” their techniques and his training was only a blend of good technique “stolen” from many loggers. This was his way of giving the Professional Logger credit for his success. Soren Eriksson’s “Game of Logging” (www.gameoflogging.com) highlighted the use of safety equipment, detailed cutting techniques, precision felling and significant competition prize money to bring the pro-logger/timber cutter respect and credibility.

He loved loggers because he was a logger but, I should say, he really loved people! I remember stopping for breakfast with him at the local diner called “Pops Place.” After a few visits, Soren got to know the cook and one morning asked if he could “be the cook.” He was given the grill and Soren cooked for locals more than a few mornings. Finally, I had to remind him that we had cutter training and needed to go. Everyone loved him!

Soren loved life and life loved Soren. He never stopped learning, and his familiar expression was “knowledge is easy to carry around.” The other expression when things went wrong was to say “It’s “S@*t behind the handle!” (He knew some English words better than others!) His contagious enthusiasm, passion to share a dream, and drive to get better changed both a culture and an industry. He trained cutters to be safe and smart, loggers to be more productive, and all of us to share his vision, asking the question, “why not?”

We’ll miss our friend, but his legacy lives on in the training he pioneered. I believe a quote from Mark Twain speaks volumes:

Happiness is a Swedish sunset; it is there for all, but most of us look the other way and lose it.

Soren always loved a beautiful sunset. I’m sure his advice would be to watch it until it fully fades away!

Soren Eriksson

R.I.P. my friend.

Jeff Jenkins
Director, Fiber Supply | Glatfelter

Chillicothe, Ohio