plane dealer
March, 2015

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Locally Grown



I had the opportunity to visit Whole Foods in Birmingham, Alabama recently. In case you also live deep in the woods and don't get out much, Whole Foods (or Whole Paycheck as some call it) is an upscale grocery chain dedicated to "selling the highest quality natural and organic products available".


From my observations, Whole Foods' general clientele is made up of "save the earth" type folks whom I suspect may have different attitudes towards cutting trees and using lumber than most of us in this industry. However, they are committed to their causes and obviously are willing to pay more for products that meet their expectations.

It makes you wonder, why has our industry never been able to effectively communicate (particularly to this group of people) the remarkable story of the "high quality natural and organic products" that we produce?

One of the marketing themes for most of the products in the Whole Foods stores relates to the people who grow and manufacture this merchandise. Several products, from produce to fish are locally grown, with the names of the farm and town of origin on the signs.  Another one of the things that I noticed at Whole Foods was that they continually encourage consumers to buy local throughout the store. There were signs posted explaining why it's better to buy local. They differentiate price tags when the product has been locally grown. They even provide some background information on the farm in which the produce comes from. As Michael Pollan says in his book, In Defense of Food, "shake the hand that feeds you". Although you may not be physically seeing the farmer in front of you, I think that this is a nice added touch for the market because it gives the consumer a sense of relationship to the farmer who has grown their food. 

That could be one thing our industry misses. In the small amount of PR material we do produce, we typically show pictures of trees, assuming that's what the public wants to see. 99% of the timber we buy comes from non-industrial, private landowners who have invested decades to grow and sell their crop. Maybe we need to show more of the personal side of our industry.


Meet some of our local farmers
John Tyler (J.T.) McShan
J.T. was born in McShan, Alabama in 1926 and still lives there.  J.T. has harvested thousands of natural and organic trees in his lifetime, all grown locally in Pickens County, Alabama.  
At age 89, this tree farmer has witnessed the full cycle of timber planting, growth and harvest. Also, he has had the added privilege and enjoyment of manufacturing this renewable resource into the finest Southern Yellow Pine lumber in the country.
James Lancaster

Mr. Lancaster's grandfather moved to Greene Cty., Al in 1928. He moved there because of the abundance of open land. Mr. Lancaster's grandfather had 9 children, making open land a necessity to plant crops for a food source for his family. He leased this property until his death.  In 1941 Mr. Lancaster's father paid off the note on the property (503 acres).  The only timber rights that he acquired was the timber standing with an 8" stump.   All of the timber was cut in 1942 with the exception of the timber with an 8" stump.  The timber we recently harvested was the timber that was left from the 1942 harvest. In the early 1970's, Mr. Lancaster's father enrolled this property in the Tree Farm Program.  In 1975, his father passed away, and Mr. Lancaster inherited the property.  Mr. Lancaster was born in 1935 on the property and has never left.


Patta and Lillian Steele
Another Greene County, Alabama family that has sold timber to McShan Lumber. Their family dates back to the creation of Pleasant Ridge, Alabama in 1819.  Patta left Greene County for her education at the University of Virginia and the University of Southern California but finally returned to her home.
Sadly, both have passed away but their timber still grows.
Will consumers pay more for "certified" wood products?


More and more landowners are considering having their timber lands "certified," but there are questions about the possible costs and benefits.

Forest certification involves having a third party agency declare that the forest is being managed in a sustainable manner. The "certified" wood harvested from these forests can then be sold displaying a special stamp, or "eco-label", that indicates its origin. There are a number of certifying agencies, each with varying guidelines for sustainability. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) are two of the more well-known certification groups in North America. Some environmental organizations are demanding that retailers stock certified wood whenever possible, and some retailers, including major chains such as the Home Depot and Lowes, have started to give preference to certified wood.

Surveys have shown that consumers claim that they would be willing to pay significantly more for certified wood products. However, recent research suggests people's actual buying habits don't match their predicted behavior. In one study, shoppers at Home Depot were presented with two stacks of plywood sitting side by side. The plywood sheets were identical in grade, but one pile was stamped with an eco-label from the Forest Stewardship Council while the other plywood had no eco-label. When both stacks of plywood were the same price, consumers indeed bought more of the FSC-certified plywood. However, when the certified plywood was increased in price by 20� per sheet, the un-labeled plywood outsold the certified product by 2:1. A similar study found that most customers wouldn't pay more for pencils displaying a certified wood eco-label.

Many people who have joined a forest certification program have found that the process has required few changes in their forest management practices. This is a reflection of the fact that most forestry today is environmentally sound. However, certification requires inspection and auditing, and these are paid for by the landowner or manufacturer. The question remains whether these costs can be recovered in the sale of certified wood products.





Product Spotlight

Rough 1" and 5/4" boards.

Quality lumber comes from quality timber.  Many high production mills are sourced from tree farms that have a crop rotation of 26-30 years. That's a great success story of sustainable timber growth but not the best raw material for quality boards.

Look closely at the growth rings of McShan Lumber. Our timber comes from natural stands and it's common to trees that are 75 to 100 years old. 


Call for tally, prices




How Miserable are we?
A look at the misery index

Misery Index (6.36) equals Unemployment rate (5.6) plus Inflation rate (0.76)

The misery index was initiated by economist Arthur Okun, an adviser to President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960's. It is simply the unemployment rate added to the inflation rate. It is assumed that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation both create economic and social costs for a country. A combination of rising inflation and more people out of work implies a deterioration in economic performance and a rise in the misery index. 

Our current misery index is 6.36% (December 2014)
The lowest on record was 2.97 (July 1953, Eisenhower was President)
The highest was 21.98 (June 1980, Jimmy Carter was President)

However, according to a January 2015 report in the Washington Examiner, actual unemployment is 37.2% and the "misery index" is the worst in 40 years.
In a memo to clients, David John Marotta, an influential Wall Street advisor calculates the actual unemployment rate of those not working at a sky-high 37.2 percent, not the 6.7 percent advertised by the Fed, and the Misery Index at over 14, not the 8 claimed by the government.  "Unemployment in its truest definition, meaning the portion of people who do not have any job, is 37.2 percent. This number obviously includes some people who are not or never plan to seek employment. But it does describe how many people are not able to, do not want to or cannot find a way to work. Policies that remove the barriers to employment, thus decreasing this number, are obviously beneficial," he and colleague Megan Russell in their new investors note from their offices in Charlottesville, Va.

"Today, the Misery Index would be 7.54 using official numbers," they wrote. But if calculations tabulating the full national unemployment including discouraged workers, which is 10.2 percent, and the historical method of calculating inflation, which is now 4.5 percent, 'the current misery index is closer to 14.7, worse even than during the Ford administration."

Whatever the real Misery Rate, McShan Lumber is happily making the finest SYP boards this great country has to offer.

Rubber Assets
Not your ordinary set of tires.

One of our primary logging contractors recently bought a set of tires for their cutting machine. The new tires, size 67.34.25, were bought "on sale" at $4,000 each.

It would cost $80,000 to replace all of the rubber on their equipment.

Lumber prices include the raw material (timber), cut and haul (logging), manufacturing and hopefully a little profit.

Our logging contractors are seasoned woodsmen and businessmen. They are faced with unique land use decisions as well as financial decisions every week.

George Washington's

           rules of

Civility & Decent Behavior



This is the third of eleven McShan Plane Dealer newsletters featuring 10 of the 110 rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.


By age sixteen, Washington had copied out by hand, 110 Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. They are based on a set of rules composed by French Jesuits in 1595. Presumably they were copied out as part of an exercise in penmanship assigned by young Washington's schoolmaster. The first English translation of the French rules appeared in 1640, and are ascribed to Francis Hawkins, the twelve-year-old son of a doctor. 

Today many, if not all of these rules, sound a little fussy if not downright silly. It would be easy to dismiss them as outdated and appropriate to a time of powdered wigs and quills, but they reflect a focus that is increasingly difficult to find. The rules have in common a focus on other people rather than the narrow focus of our own self-interests that we find so prevalent today. Fussy or not, they represent more than just manners. They are the small sacrifices that we should all be willing to make for the good of all and the sake of living together. 


21. Reproach none for the Infirmities of Nature, nor Delight to Put them that have in mind thereof.


22. Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another though he were your enemy.


23. When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly Pleased; but always show Pity to the Suffering Offender.


24. Do not laugh too loud or too much at any Public Spectacle.


25. Superfluous Complements and all Affectation of Ceremony are to be avoided, yet where due they are not to be Neglected.


26. In Pulling off your Hat to Persons of Distinction, as Noblemen, Justices, Churchmen &c make a Reverence, bowing more or less according to the Custom of the Better Bred, and Quality of the Person. Amongst your equals expect not always that they Should begin with you first, but to Pull off the Hat when there is no need is Affectation, in the Manner of Saluting and resaluting in words keep to the most usual Custom.


27. Tis ill manners to bid one more eminent than yourself be covered as well as not to do it to whom it's due Likewise he that makes too much haste to Put on his hat does not well, yet he ought to Put it on at the first, or at most the Second time of being asked; now what is herein Spoken, of Qualification in behavior in Saluting, ought also to be observed in taking of Place, and Sitting down for ceremonies without Bounds is troublesome.


28. If any one come to Speak to you while you are are Sitting Stand up though he be your Inferior, and when you Present Seats let it be to every one according to his Degree.


29. When you meet with one of Greater Quality than yourself, Stop, and retire especially if it be at a Door or any Straight place to give way for him to Pass.


30. In walking the highest Place in most Countries Seems to be on the right hand therefore Place yourself on the left of him whom you desire to Honor: but if three walk together the middest Place is the most Honorable the wall is usually given to the most worthy if two walk together. be continued


McShan Lumber product availability

Humerous quotes

"The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits." 

"Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away." 

Paul Terry


 "I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." 
Groucho Marx



 "Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint." 
Mark Twain


 "I generally avoid temptation unless I can't resist it." 
Mae West


"When you're in jail, a good friend will be trying to bail you out. A best friend will be in the cell next to you saying, 'Damn, that was fun'." 
Groucho Marx 


"Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well".  Mark Twain 


"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by." 
Douglas AdamsThe Salmon of Doubt 


"You know the world is going crazy when the best rapper is a white guy, the best golfer is a black guy, the tallest guy in the NBA is Chinese, the Swiss hold the America's Cup, France is accusing the U.S. of arrogance, Germany doesn't want to go to war, and the three most powerful men in America are named "Bush", "Dick", and "Colin." Need I say more?" 
Chris Rock 


"The only really good place to buy lumber is at a store where the lumber has already been cut and attached together in the form of furniture finished and put inside boxes." 

Dave BarryThe Taming of the Screw 




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McShan Lumber Company | |
11180 Hwy 82  P.O. Box 27
Mc Shan, AL 35471