Outstanding Logger of the Year
Jason (left) and Jeremy Flora, loggers
Flora brothers bring small-town values to big industry
Jason and Jeremy Flora have been logging so long, they may have sawdust in their veins.
As 5- and 6-year-olds, they carried oil and gas cans for their father, a logger since 1981. As teens, they hauled pulpwood to earn spending money. These brothers grew up in the woods, so it’s only natural they chose to become loggers.
Their commitment paid off as Flora Logging in Maben grew from a couple of pieces of old equipment their dad gave them in 1999 to the new trucks, cutters, and booms they operate today. They recently received the prestigious Outstanding Logger of the Year Award from the Mississippi Forestry Association.
Being named Oktibbeha County’s top logger was an honor, and winning at the state level was a shock and a big thrill.
“We come from a small town where everyone knows everyone else,” Jeremy shares. “We’ve always hoped to get to this point. Our daddy told us to work hard and it would get us through life, and winning this award is a big deal for us.”
Jason shares his brother’s perspective. “To come from where we did, starting with dad’s old equipment to winning this award—it’s a dream come true,” Jason says.
Born just 11 months apart, the Flora brothers bring both their good-natured sibling rivalry and their respect for each other’s strengths to the family business. They currently run three crews, own six log trucks—seven including a low-boy— and contract with seven more to deliver their quota of 65 loads a week to the Packaging Corporation of America mill in Counce, Tennessee.
Both men jokingly claim to be the best when it comes to running logging equipment, but they also brag on each other.
“What makes my brother a great logger is being steady, keeping everything going,” Jeremy observes. “I’d hate to do it all by myself.”
One of Flora Logging’s most noteworthy accomplishments is an untarnished safety record. They credit their employees, some of whom have been part of their team for more than 10 years. They conduct regular safety meetings and interact with their crews all week, which keeps everyone accountable for following proper procedures.
They also give credit to the MSU Extension Service.
“Extension helps us get our Sustainable Forestry Initiative certifications every two years,” Jeremy says. “At least one person on each of our three crews is certified.”
The Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable forest management. Its internationally recognized forest certification standard addresses best practices related to biodiversity, water quality, wildlife habitat, species at risk, and forests with exceptional conservation value. Loggers must take 12 hours of continuing education classes every two years to maintain SFI certification, which permits them to deliver wood to certified SFI forest products companies.
Jason describes Extension’s role in growing their business according to industry standards.
“Extension really helped us,” he observes. “They always have new information and keep us up-to-date. They helped us learn a lot over the years: stream management, taxes, and best management practices. It’s well worth going to Extension classes.”
Dr. Thomas Legiambenyi, Extension agent in Oktibbeha County, and Ed Williams, retired Extension agent and president of the Oktibbeha County Forest Farmers Association, nominated Flora Logging for the award.
“People trust them,” Legiambenyi says. “They treat all their clients the same, whether they have a lot of knowledge about the logging process, or none at all.”
Williams reports the brothers are well respected in multiple counties.
“They are local loggers who have done an outstanding job for local landowners,” Williams says. “They make the most of every tract of land, are dependable to both landowners and mills, and their safety record is one every logging operation would like to emulate.”
The brothers agree the business hinges on everyone pitching in.
“Our wives are really smart and keep the business going,” Jeremy volunteers.
His wife, Ashleigh, is a registered nurse who works in home healthcare but shares office responsibilities with Jason’s wife, Kimberly. Taxes, payroll, bills, stumpage, landowner payments: logging generates a lot of paperwork that the Flora brothers gladly leave to their wives.
The next generation is already preparing to join the family business. Jeremy’s son, Brett, plans to major in forestry and run Flora Logging one day. Brett may be joined by his youngest sister, who at 3, loves to watch the logging equipment in action, or Jason’s two daughters.
“The girls may decide they want to put on hard hats and work in the woods one day,” Jeremy says. “That’d be all right with me. They’re good kids. They’re the future of our business.”
By Keri Collins Lewis