Ragland Named Logger Of The Year By The Virginia Forestry Association

Published 1:03 pm Thursday, June 18, 2015

BUCKINGHAM — W.E. Ragland Logging has been named the 2015 Virginia Forestry Association’s Outstanding Logger of the Year.

W.E. “Gene” Ragland, along with his family, recently accepted the award at VFA’s annual meeting in Charlottesville.

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The award recognized Ragland’s outstanding service in harvesting the forest resource in a safe, sustainable manner while going above and beyond adhering to best practices.

Ragland’s business, which employs 16 people, was nominated by Greg Scheerer, a timber acquisition supervisor for MeadWestvaco.

“I just was overwhelmed by it,” Ragland, a Glenmore resident, told The Herald following the banquet, “because the people had a lot of nice things to say, and I’m sure it was a lot of people out there that had the same opportunity. And I got picked and I was overwhelmed by it.”

Ragland has been cutting wood for 37 years. He began with a crew of three — Robert “Red” Vaughters, Stuart Clements and himself. “That was it,” Ragland said.

“I started out with three guys, probably getting three loads a day. And now, we’ve grown to two crews … Providing the wood companies will buy our product, we’re capable of getting 100-plus loads a week…We have grown quite a bit,” he said.

Ragland’s wife, Joan, and his son, Chris, work for the business.

“When he began logging for a living in 1978, he cut wood for a local wood dealer,” said Scheerer’s nomination letter. “He … cut trees down with chainsaws, loaded cut-to-length wood with a ‘big stick loader,’ and moved three tandem truckloads of wood each day — about 250 tons per week. Later, Gene would move on to harvesting timber for a local sawmill and then to cutting purchased stumpage for Westvaco Corporation.”

Ragland cut timber full-time on MeadWestvaco’s central Virginia forestland property for many years, explained Scheerer, and grew his business along the way. “He transitioned into a single large crew, employing 6-8 folks, and moving 12-15 loads per day … He purchased land across from his house and built a modern shop capable of in-house servicing of all his logging equipment and haul trucks and trailers.”

Scheerer said that Ragland is a certified Virginia Sustainable Harvesting And Resource Professional (SHARP) logger, “and has a long record of environmentally responsible operation[s]. He was an early purchaser and user of durable portable steel logging bridges, which he utilizes to cross small creeks without damaging the stream banks or depositing sediment in the creek. He is now able to build his own steel bridges in his shop.”

In recent years, Ragland has split his operation into two separate crews to adapt to current harvesting dynamics and wood markets, said Scheerer. Ragland leads one of the crews; his son leads the other.

“Gene’s current operation produces 100-130 tractor-trailer loads of wood products per week depending on the type of timber he is harvesting and what markets allow at the time. This equates to anywhere from 2,500 to 3,250 tons of weekly production,” the MeadWestvaco employee said..

Scheerer says the most recent equipment addition to Ragland’s business is a wood chipper, which he uses to chip up treetops and small stems into biomass fuel chips for the recently emerged biomass-fueled power generators in Virginia.

Scheerer said that Ragland “is a respected and successful businessman, who has excelled by growing and adapting to the ever-evolving world of timber harvesting over the past 37 years. He is a true professional and an excellent representative for his profession.”

Aside from his professional career, Ragland is an integral member of the Glenmore community. He is an active member of the Glenmore United Methodist Church, and served on the Glenmore Volunteer Fire Department for 35 years. “He enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren in his leisure time,” Scheerer said.