Mark Mahon (Logger)
Logger - Council, Idaho
Pursuing a career in the forest industry has come naturally for Mark Mahon. The lure to the woods started during childhood for the Idaho’s 2004 “Logger of the Year, ” thanks to the influence of his father Tom, founder of Tom Mahon Logging in Council, Idaho. After 18 years as a professional logger in the family business, Mark remains passionate and committed to his chosen pathway.
“Growing up in a small, rural community whose high school mascot is the Lumberjacks, one can’t help to be drawn to a career in the outdoors,” he says. “If you throw in a father and both grandfathers whose careers were spent in the timber industry, you might say I was born into this profession.”
The Mahon family logging tradition has its roots in both Idaho and Oregon. As children, Mark and his brother Joe loved listening to the logging lore of the grown-ups. They also remember setting up their own timber harvesting and road-building operations in the backyard playground, using tree limbs as their logs. As elementary students, they took pride in being able to identify the owners of log trucks rolling past their school during recess.
Mark headed to the woods at age 9 to work with his brother and dad on small Forest Service salvage sales, earning $100 that first summer. His mom Judy opened a savings account for him, which grew after each summer’s logging work, eventually funding his studies at Boise State University and later at the University of Idaho, where in 1997 he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forest Products. After considering degrees as an athletic trainer or in business, Mark happily settled into his present niche. “I knew logging was for me when I transferred to the U of I in 1994,” he recalls. “My first class was on cable logging, and I was finally able to relax and enjoy a college course due to obvious familiarity with the subject.”
As an experienced logging contractor, Mahon stresses courses in diesel and auto mechanics, welding, metal fabrication and business and skills to do hard work as essentials for working in the timber industry. Nowadays, Mark teams up with his parents and brother to keep the family business running smoothly. Joe runs the feller-buncher, oversees the office and acts as computer whiz for their mother who serves as bookkeeper, receptionist, etc. Meanwhile, Tom acts as chief counselor, mechanic and low-boy driver. “For two brothers working with their father, it works phenomenally well,” Mark says.
The Mahons believe in continually supplementing their knowledge of the industry by exploring new technology and ideas. They keep abreast of industry trends and concerns while attending logging conferences. They also search out ways to improve their own operation, which succeeds, thanks to an experienced, loyal crew and keen attention to equipment maintenance. Mark stays
current with logging issues by serving as a director on several regional and state boards. More than anything, he believes in tapping the wisdom and earning the respect of woodsmen who came before him, like his father and the crew who have long worked for the company. “Everyone needs to find somebody who is willing to teach you everything about being a logger,” he says, and [you need] to make yourself available to learn.”
That attitude has led to both success and satisfaction for Mark who cites the end of each work day as ample motivation for his career choice. “. . . I can look back and see in its entirety what I have accomplished. Compared to an office job where accomplishments are measured in memos or and reports, loggers can see the fruits of their labors by a better-managed forest,” he says. ” It’s a great place to work. Where else do you get a picnic lunch, see all sorts of wildlife and other natural
wonders and make a good living all at the same time?” As for the future of his industry, Mark remains optimistic and assured that “the timber industry will eventually prevail in this battle of public acceptance for forest management.”
And, considering that Mark and his wife Sandy have two young sons, J.T. and Sammy, who tag along with him to the woods, the Mahon family will likely continue its tradition as progressive contributors to the logging legacy.
Want to know more?
º University of Idaho Degree in Forest Products
º Timber Harvesting Machines & Systems
º Associated Logging Contractors, Inc.
º Bureau of Labor Statistics
º Logging Equipment Operators Skills:
º Best Management Practices for Loggers