FORECON, Inc. is the successor firm of “C.H. Bauer, Consulting Forester” established on July 1, 1954. Curtis (Curt) Bauer had received his forestry degree from what was then called the College of Forestry (now SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry) in Syracuse NY. After various forestry jobs, Curt moved to western New York and worked for a local lumberman for a few years, after which he saw the need to open up shop as a professionally-trained forestry consultant, choosing the Jamestown area as his home base. At the time, western NY – and particularly the Jamestown, NY area – was considered to be the furniture capital of the world, mainly due to the fantastic hardwood forests that existed (and still exist) in this region. Though the majority of the furniture-making industry moved down to the Carolinas and now China, the Forest Products sector of both the local and US economy continues to provide for a great number of jobs and produces a variety of sustainably-managed products that are sought after both domestically and internationally.
Curt was a true visionary, constantly exploring new technologies and learning any new forestry management concepts that developed to best service his growing client base. He continued to expand his outreach of expertise throughout New York and northwestern Pennsylvania, providing an increasing variety of forestry and natural resource consulting services and opening several offices. His professional forestry staff continued to grow, as did the need for additional administrative and other technical support positions. Curt (and FORECON, which stands for FOrestry Recreation Ecology and CONservation) became nationally known as an expert in the forestry consulting field and he was much respected by his peers across the country.
In 1991, after decades of providing expert consulting and leadership at FORECON, Curt sold the business to three of his employees; David Thomas (President), Ronald Johnson (Vice President), and John Gifford (Secretary-Treasurer). Though Curt stepped down from the grind of administering to the daily workings of the company, he stayed on as an advisor and Senior Forester, and remained a great help right up until he passed away in 2007 at the age of 80. He was and remains sorely missed. Dave Thomas was the perfect successor as president, having an incredible working knowledge of our services and our client base. His relationships with FORECON’s clients over the many years he worked as Curt’s right-hand man, coupled with his rapport with all of the local mill owners was an incredible benefit to the company.
After some fits and starts, the new management was able to weather a significant downturn in the timber markets in the early 1990s and began expanding on the operational and geographic platforms that Curt had developed. In November of 1996, Dave suddenly and unexpectedly passed away, which was certainly a shock to so many people. Despite his untimely death, FORECON continued to stay on top of the technological advances that allowed foresters to provide better services to its clients. In the mid-late 1990s, the Timber Investment Management Organization (TIMO) sector began exploring the opportunity to expand their forestland investment portfolios that they managed for large institutional investors (pension/retirement funds, college endowments, and high net-worth individuals) into the hardwood regions of New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This created an occasion for FORECON to expand again, now providing services to these TIMOs on the thousands of acres they would eventually purchase and have under management for a variety of their clients. FORECON continued to provide an ever-increasing depth of services to small and large private forest landowners since then, navigating the ever-changing business and political climate of the forest industry.
In January 2016, Ron Johnson (President) began his retirement phase out period, at which time John Gifford became FORECON’s President and Ron became the company’s Executive Vice President. In June of 2017, John and Ron put into place a program that would allow for an internal ownership succession program to be implemented, at which time four of our current long-standing employees were invited to become ownership partners. This provided for a stable successional base going forward as Ron, and then John, would phase into their retirement years. So, as of June 2017, there were six owners of FORECON; John Gifford (President); Ron Johnson (Executive Vice President); Brian Bullard (Secretary, VP of Corporate Operations and Managing Broker of Timberland Realty); Rick Constantino (Treasurer and Director of Operations); Brock Sanner (Assistant Secretary and Director of Land Management); and Andy Johnson (Assistant Treasurer and Principal Engineer of EcoStrategies Engineering and Surveying, PLLC).
FORECON has continued to expand its services and areas of operation within the hardwood region of the eastern US. At the time of the first ownership transition in 1991, FORECON had 12 employees and two offices; as of this date (June 2019), we now employ over 40 full and part-time folks with a variety of professional expertise in forestry and technical skills, and we also have been able to employ an additional 15+ seasonal folks during the summer months as demand within certain service sectors ramps up.
Though we gladly accommodate a variety of governmental clients, our passion is working with both small and large private forest landowners, helping them to achieve their desires and objectives. It is FORECON’s goal to continue being a leader in providing landowners with the help they seek in managing their private forests, which in turn provides the public with a number of vital benefits.
FORECON wishes to thank its clients and the communities it works in for the many years of patronage and support they have provided. The company has been blessed with a diverse but loyal clientele over the last 65 years and looks forward to serving landowners in increasingly efficient and effective ways for many more years to come.