By Christy Smith, Marketing Specialist AgSouth
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How do two ex-military officers a banker and a furniture businessman-come to run one of the largest privately owned timber companies in North Georgia? First, they start Scofield Properties, a real estate company. But, in 1974, Jay Bear and his partner decided it wasn’t the best time to delve into the real estate market. Then opportunity and creativity came together. Jay was asked to sell some timber in South Carolina and enlisted the aid of Green Coat forester, Frydy Cole, from Chester. The result was the birth of Scofield Timber Company.
Now, where to locate this company? After reviewing his files, Jay found that approximately 70 percent of the land owners with whom he worked were from metro-Atlanta with property holdings across the southeast. Atlanta seemed a logical choice for establishing headquarters. Harvesting timber wasn’t something new in the area, but doing so while still maintaining the quality of the property was. At the time, most timber companies cared primarily about the logs that came out of the woods. Scofield was making it a point to care about the property too.
Ride by a piece of property that has been clear-cut and what you often see is a field of stumps, limbs and trees laying on the ground. Now envision a property that Scofield has cut; it is relatively clean, low stumps and only scattered logging debris. The result is an aesthetically cut piece of property as well as full utilization of the wood.
Scofield professionals take the time and planning to make the best decisions for the long term benefit of the client. Often clearcutting is not the best option even for developers. By harvesting a selective crop of timber, it gives the option of building home sites in an area where there are trees, which is usually more attractive to buyers than just cleared lots. Scofield allows the condition of the timber and the value of the land post harvest to ultimately determine the best overall harvesting plan.
The services provided by Scofield Timber Company are all encompassing when it comes to the process of harvesting timber. According to Bear, “Scofield manages and controls every aspect of a timber job: price, logging crew and tree selection, road construction, permitting, insuring the landowner against liability, clean up, erosion control, relations with adjoining landowners, as well as public relations for developers via press releases and news articles.”
Throughout difficult economic times, Scofield has survived by concentrating on what it does best and by building and strengthening relationships with its core business of landowners, corporate clients, developers and financial institutions from Alabama to North Carolina. Typically Scofield manages projects with at least 50 acres or more, doing everything from planting and harvesting to providing improved access in the interior of the properties .
According to Bear, his management team also prioritizes interaction with loggers, mills and government agencies. “We focus on communicating with all of working partners,” says Bear. “This includes the logging crews, the mills, and government agencies that do permitting and regulations around timber harvesting. It’s all about being the best in the business, building on our relationships and communicating frequently throughout the timber harvest process.”
It is this level of communication that has contributed to the company’s growing relationship with AgSouth. In the past, the company had identified Farm Credit and AgSouth as an informational resource for helping it obtain releases and documentation, etc. for tracts on which it purchased timber. However, AgSouth had not been considered as a financing source until Jason Denton began to call.
Brooks Mendell of Forisk Consulting, a shared associate of both Scofield and AgSouth, strongly encouraged COO Kelly McGill Dean to meet with Jason on financing options. After the meeting, it didn’t take long to see the benefit of working with AgSouth and particularly with Jason.
“Jason just knew. I didn’t have to explain everything over and over,” Bear remembers . “Here was an individual and an organization that was well immersed in Agriculture. It was like adding a member of the family to our financial infrastructure.” AgSouth has experienced employees who are knowledgeable in agricultural finance and understand the various needs of our customer base. From timber to traditional agriculture, we work with our customers to tailor our products to fit their needs.
Scofield Timber Company, Inc. is located at 1784 Century Blvd., in Atlanta, Georgia. Members of the staff include Jay Bear, founder, President and CEO; Kelly McGill Dean, Chief Operations Officer; Scot Teverino, Chief Forester; Jonathan Nelson, Chief of Logging Operations; Morgan Cook, Forester; and Ryan A. Cash, Office Manager and Client Service Provider. All of the four core logging crews are second generation loggers and, according to Bear, “the best in the business.”