Advanced Timber Services, Inc., (ATS) is a timber-buying and-selling company as well as a timber management company started by Jim Long in 1996. ATS is operated by Jim, his wife, Susan, and two adult sons, Jeremy and Jamie.
Jim started in the forest industry when he was 19 years old, working his way through college as a forestry technician for Crown Zellerbach, a national company that has since sold. Next, Jim took a job as a procurement forester for a timber company in Arkansas, a position he held for seven years. He then made the move to another timber company, where he worked another seven years.
When Jim was 40 years old, he decided to go out on his own and start his own timber company, ATS. An outgoing entrepreneur, Jim grew the operation into a thriving business and has never looked back. He’s now semi-retired and depends on his sons to handle the day-to-day operations in the ﬁeld.
Susan began her career as a human resources professional and worked until her sons were in elementary school. The Longs decided that Susan would stay home with the two boys and assist Jim with ATS. Susan obtained her real estate license and began helping with the ofﬁce duties of ATS, a role she still ﬁlls today. In total, the company has 19 employees, including loggers, drivers, foresters and an operations manager. Until 2018, the Longs would subcontract out their logging services. Now they own all their own logging equipment and run two logging crews, with the goal of adding another logging crew soon.
“In order to scale the company, if we must spend money, we have to spend it to make more money. In our case, that was spending money on our own logging equipment,” said Jeremy, the Long’s oldest son, who is a degreed forester.
Safety and technology go hand in hand for ATS, and purchasing their own logging equipment and trucks has paid dividends. All trucks have built-in GPS tracking and diagnostic information. The user can see idle time, fuel consumption, total miles driven, total number of stops, and have the capability to set the maximum speed of the trucks. Such technology helps increase safety, which in turn helps maximize proﬁts.
We have to be as safe as possible,” commented Jim. “In this industry, your reputation is all you have.”
Jeremy and Jamie have been in the woods with their father since they were in their early teens, whether tagging along while he was working or camping together as a family. It was during these times that they learned to love and respect nature. The Long sons grew up listening to their father talk on the phone to landowners and foresters. The boys quickly picked up on the lingo and learned the fundamentals of what it took to do ﬁeld work without the use of modern technology. These days, they’re able to integrate the knowledge gleaned from their father with today’s technology, giving them a well-rounded perspective on how to meet and exceed the company’s goals.
After high school, Jeremy and Jamie pursued degrees in forestry and business, respectively. Upon graduating, the boys decided to come back to Shreveport and work in the family business, which thrilled Jim and Susan.
“I wanted to come back and help my parents retire and have the life that they want, because they provided for me and my brother and helped us have the life that we wanted,” said Jamie. “I wanted to return the favor and help the family do well and succeed.”
Susan, a 12-year cancer survivor, had an illness that at one point took her and Jim away from their day-to-day jobs with ATS. Jamie was in college during this time, which left Jeremy to ﬁll in and run the company, giving him a jumpstart on his career. It was also during this time that Jamie realized just how much he wanted to come back and be part of the company his family built.
At ATS, they’ve made a commitment to surround themselves with hardworking, like-minded people, which they believe is the key to success. They are thankful that they have a wonderful group of employees to work with each day, and know that ATS is only as strong as its team.
“I feel like God prepared me for my position by working previous jobs as a receptionist, all the way from accounts payable to human resources management. I am still using all those skills for the job I have now. I can see my path very clearly was built up to help support my husband and family in this business,” said Susan. “Jim has a God-given ability to work with trees and he’s never strayed from his career choice. Even in times of very volatile markets, he never gave up.”
“When things got hard and times were tough, I never gave up. I learned from my mistakes and turned them into something positive and kept going,” Jim said. “In this industry, you must be dedicated and be willing to do whatever it takes.”
ATS chose Southern AgCredit as their lender for a variety of reasons.
“We liked the rates and terms, and we also quickly found Southern AgCredit could handle any of our ﬁnancing needs,” explained Susan. “We also liked that Justin(Southern AgCredit’s Shreveport branch manager) helped us in planning our ﬁnancing strategies for future needs of the business.”
The Longs have been Southern AgCredit members since July 2016.