Logging Leader

A man, smiling, wearing a hard hat and neon shirt with L&S Logging printed on it.

Larry Winstead, owner of L&S Logging and 2023 Outstanding Logger of the Year

Larry Winstead named 2023 Outstanding Logger of the Year for Mississippi

Story by Leah Barbour • Photos by Kevin Hudson

Folks expect the Outstanding Logger of the Year to have a stellar safety record, a powerful love of the land, and a passionate, resilient work ethic. What they may not expect is a logger who cares about the look of the job. 

Larry Winstead, owner of L&S Logging based out of Neshoba County, prides himself on leaving his job sites looking good, ready to be planted again or developed for another use. He pays attention to every aspect of his operation, and now he has the Mississippi Forestry Association’s honor of being named the 2023 Outstanding Logger of the Year.

“We work at sites all day, trying to make them better. When your site is neat, work is so much faster, and you have so much higher production,” Winstead asserts. “If you keep a good road, it’s less wear and tear on the trucks, and the faster they get out.

“We’re here to do a service for the landowners. If someone sees a neat and pleasing lot where we’ve done a job, they want to pursue whoever did it because they did a good job. That gives us more opportunities to work.”

And working in Mississippi’s logging industry is something Winstead absolutely loves. He explains that it’s something he was born with. He grew up in Neshoba County and married a local girl, Sam, whose father happened to be a logger.

In his younger days, Winstead had tried logging with his brothers, but, after he graduated high school, he tried his hand at a few other industries, including trucking. When his father-in-law offered him a logging job, Winstead jumped to do it. The rest, as they say, is history.

“My wife’s daddy was riding around one day talking about his equipment, and he asked me what I thought the equipment was worth. He always had good equipment, so I thought it was worth a good bit,” Winstead remembers. “I asked him why he wanted to know after I told him what I thought it was worth, and he said, ‘Because I’m going to sell it to you.’

“If I had known he was asking because he wanted to sell it to me, I might not have valued it as high,” he laughs. “That’s when Sam and I branched out into our own business.”

That was 25 years ago, and, since then, a lot has changed in the logging industry. Chainsaws, as well as personnel working on the ground, are no longer used.

“So many of the injury factors have basically been eliminated. The machines that we have now are just more economical, more efficient,” Winstead emphasizes. “Every now and then, you’ll get slips and falls. Sometimes, a chain can get loose, and you have to get out there just to tighten it up, so you need to be aware of your surroundings all the time.”

When it comes to learning the latest applications and techniques in his industry, Winstead says finding the time to complete continuing education units (CEUs) can be challenging, but he credits Dr. John Auel, longtime Mississippi Forestry Association certification programs coordinator, with giving a helping hand as needed.

Though Auel recently retired from the Mississippi State University Extension Service as an assistant professor of forestry, he continues to offer a range of educational services to loggers around the state. Auel is the show coordinator for the Mid-South Forestry Equipment Show, a biennial opportunity for loggers to get all the CEUs—10 hours every 2 years—that loggers are required to earn to stay certified.

“John has always helped us out a lot, and, now that he’s retired, I’ve never seen him more,” Winstead laughs. “I like to complete my credits at the show, but, this year, I did a demo instead. I encourage my employees to get their credits at the equipment show so they can get them all at once.

“I can talk with John when he’s on-site or off-site, and, next time, I should be attending the show and learning with my crew.”

For Winstead, his passion for forestry will keep him in the business as long as there are trees to harvest.

“I love this work,” he says. “I hope everybody can see the potential that the industry has here in Mississippi, and, hopefully, everybody will see that the logging industry is safe and that it’s there for future generations.

“It’s a great honor being named the Outstanding Logger of the Year for Mississippi.”

 

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