FRA Member Spotlight

John Jefferson, Jefferson Logging Company, LLC


At FRA, we pride ourselves in representing the entire wood supply chain, covering six regions nationwide. Our dedication to our members is unwavering, and their support is invaluable. Reflecting on our mission and those we serve, it’s clear: our members are the heartbeat of our community. Each time I read a Member Spotlight, I am struck by the profound impact our members make. After participating in a recent site visit, I am honored to put forth our first Member Spotlight of the year, John Jefferson of Jefferson Logging Company. 


In 1999, John Jefferson was following in his father’s footsteps: he was going to school to become a machinist. He enrolled in the first machinist class ever at Marshall University. After graduation, he worked in the trade for 15 years. He made a good living, and in 2005, he purchased a used John Deere track loader and started logging on weekends. His ultimate goal was to clean up his farms by logging the trees and creating more pasture. John still remembers the neighbors asking what he was doing and why. At some point during the process, a stranger even stopped and said, “Hey, logger man, you want to cut my timber?” John’s flat response was, “No.”  

“A Change is in the Wind”

In 2017, John’s employer went through a restructuring. Unfortunately, his job was eliminated, and he faced two options – do something different to stay with the company or “go out on a limb” and become a logger. His wife encouraged him to follow his dream. There was the uncertainty of starting a business, but he was encouraged by a local friend and entrepreneur who told him he knew he’d succeed as a logger!  

Jefferson Logging Company, LLC

Jefferson Logging Company, LLC was established in 2017. John Jefferson started as a one-man crew, and the first year was tough. At the end of the year, he had managed to secure a net loss of $8,000! However, he persevered and continued to push forward. Today, the business has grown and prospered and now has a crew of six full-time and two part-time employees. As John says, his crew is the most valuable resource in the company. He rewards their loyalty by providing good company benefits. 

Jefferson Logging Company offers competitive benefits such as six paid holidays, one week of paid vacation with an additional week for each five years of service, 401K with a company match, and a load count bonus every week. Being fair with employees translates into a low turnover. The newest employee has been with the company for three years. John’s job is running the loader. He cuts up 8-10 different products, which he sorts and sends to multiple markets. Combining a dedicated crew and knowledge of diverse markets gives the landowner the best return for the timber and gives Jefferson Logging a trustworthy and honest reputation.

John’s a Master Logger in Ohio and is a licensed logger in West Virginia. He sees training as another reason for his success. He started attending local logger chapter meetings before he became an Ohio Master Logger. Those meetings are held six times yearly, and he has only missed one meeting in the six years he’s been going. 

John has a relentless pursuit of learning and a knack for asking insightful questions to help the business improve continually. Besides his company’s dedication to training, safety is their top priority. Jefferson Logging participates in the Timber Safe safety program offered through the West Virginia University Department of Forestry extension service. Timber Safe and its administrator, Pat Donnelly, have been an invaluable resource to John and his team. Joining the program is one of the best things the company has done, not just for the safety of the employees but as a good business practice. The complete safety program has monthly safety meetings, accident reports, near misses, etc., all recorded in the company’s safety book. The safety consultant visits the work site approximately every six weeks and conducts a walk-around inspection. He talks to most of the employees to see if there are any concerns or issues. If there is a concern, the safety consultant can pass that information on to John in real time to address. During the walk-around inspection, the consultants look for improper use or lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), unseen dangers to the crew, and the general feel of the work site to see if there are any unsafe practices. According to John, “It’s easy to get complacent or get tunnel vision when you do this every day; it’s easy to take things for granted. So having an outside perspective helps.”

Boards and Awards

John served on the county Soil and Water Conservation District board as a member for the first year and the following two years as president. He understands logging can have a bad reputation. Being involved in local government is a great way to help others see how to harvest timber, manage water, and reclaim logging sites. The Ohio Forestry Association recognized the Jefferson Logging Company as their Logger of the Year in 2023, and they went on to compete with other states as FRA’s Appalachian Region Outstanding Logger.

Final Words

At the end of my visit, I heard the passion in John’s voice when he said he was just amazed at how fast timber grows back and told every landowner he’s ever worked for that “timber is the best renewable resource that this country has. There’s nothing else like it!” When I left John’s job site, my assignment was to go home and watch a TED talk about the Wright Brothers, as John wanted me to hear the words that still inspire him today. The talk is titled “How Great Leaders Inspire Action.” John is undoubtedly one of those leaders!