Becoming the Vice President of Natural Resources

The following was written by Vice President of Natural Resources John Zemanick. Natural Resources oversees the Forestry and Procurement Departments for Gutchess Lumber Co., Inc.

Our job in this department is to manage our nearly 30,000 acres of company owned timberlands, purchase standing timber and logs to maintain woodyard inventory levels that are needed to provide full production in the mill. This is a very rewarding but often stressful career path and department. We have to work with outside forces such as what mother nature throws us, such as rain, snow, ice, drought, as well as hunting season, harvesting and trucking contractors and once in a while an irate mill manager over species mix (they love to run Hickory), too many or not enough logs and of course Larry Lines😊!

John Z's forest homeMany people have asked how I ventured into this profession – I actually started out in electrical engineering, but quickly determined that was not the field I wanted for the rest of my working days. My love for the forest and outdoors started at a very young age. My father and mother would take our whole family out to a property in a remote area of Chenango County, NY. When he was just a young man, my father purchased these 60 acres, which were surrounded by state land. We referred to this place as the “farm house” because it was originally a home and farm stead that was built prior to the great depression on a seasonal road with no electricity or running water (still to this day). We used to have to pump water from a hand dug well and use oil lanterns for light at night. This was the place we would go each fall to hunt with a group of my fathers close friends, “the gang”, and we grew up eating venison/grouse and rabbit that we harvested from this property.

As I got older my group of friends would go out to the farm. We enjoyed the comradery, hunting and serenity of the forest. I decided to follow my brothers path to The Ranger School in Wanakena, the heart of the Adirondacks. As part of SUNY ESF, I attended the 1+1 program to earn an Associates and then went on to ESF Syracuse to finish my BS in Forest Resource Management. After graduation, I moved to North Carolina to start my forestry career with Georgia Pacific a leader in building products. My heart was always set on returning to New York, so I waited for a job to open at a GP run hardwood sawmill on the border of New York and Pennsylvania. I was eventually lucky enough to find my way to Gutchess Lumber in 2004, where I learned from some great, seasoned foresters how to cruise, evaluate and buy quality Northern hardwoods.

For those that have not found the right career path, there is still time to figure it out, to make changes if necessary and to work in a field that you truly enjoy and want to be doing. To this day my brother and I still own the property that had been in our family for over 60 acres and I have bought some adjoining land to add on to this sanctuary. I walk through my woodlots summer and winter and plan on TSI (timber stand improvement cuts), future sustainable timber harvests and building a small cabin so that my boys will be able to grow up and have a place that they hopefully find the same relaxation and peace in.