Jaime Yraguen, co-owner of Basco Logging, Inc. in Sutherlin, was elected president of the Associated Oregon Loggers Jan. 20 during the association’s 47th annual convention in Eugene, where he was recognized for his contributions to the association and the Douglas County community.
The association represents more than 1,000 contract logging companies and other related businesses in the state.
Yraguen follows Mark Turner of Turner Logging in Banks, Oregon, who was president for the last two years.
Basco Logging, which specializes in timber management and land development, offers logging services and marketing for small woodland owners, as well as civil construction services, logging road construction and site development.
As part of a 12-year commitment, the six AOL board members start as service representatives then move up to higher positions every two years. Now, it’s Yraguen’s time to serve as president in his ninth year on the board.
“There’s quite a commitment of time and energy to serve in that capacity so we wanted to give him recognition,” said Jim Geisinger, executive vice president of Associated Oregon Loggers, adding that Yraguen sets an example for other loggers to replicate.
Yraguen’s father, Bonifacio Yraguen, started as a partner in Sabala Logging in 1947, then bought the company in 1972. A fellow logger gave Bonifacio the nickname “Basco,” referring to the family’s heritage from the Basque Country of Spain, which became the company’s new name.
Born and raised in Roseburg, Yraguen grew up working in the woods for his parents at Basco Logging.
“I liked the work and liked the people, and I made it my life’s goal to be a part of the company,” Yraguen said. He and his brother Nick began to take a larger role in the business in 1981 when their parents were starting to reach retirement. When their other brother Juan joined the company as an accountant in 1985, the three brothers bought the business from Bonifacio.
Nick Yraguen passed away Jan. 24, 2015, and Jaime and Juan continue to operate the logging company year round.
“It’s been great,” Jaime Yraguen said of working with his family. “We have the same goals for our company and it’s been a really good partnership and family relationship both.”
His goal is to continue to provide a safe, long-term and steady workplace for his employees.
While Basco Logging holds some property, it mostly contracts for other land holders in Douglas, Coos and Lane counties.
Yraguen said Basco Logging continues to adapt to changes in the industry.
“The way the industry has been changing in the last two decades has really required a lot of innovation and style changes,” Yraguen said. While the business used to log old growth timber, it currently harvests second growth timber and has had to revamp its machinery to stay up-to-date with changing technology.
“In 2007 when the great recession hit, it was really difficult to keep the contracts in front of us with any ability to make a profit, and we required more work out of fewer men to cut our overhead and be able to somehow keep everything flowing,” Yraguen said. “That was one of the biggest struggles we faced.” Basco Logging, as other logging companies, has also faced increased regulations and requirements for how and where it can log timber.
To diversify the logging business, the Yraguens added construction, land development and trucking divisions.
As president, Yraguen hopes the association will continue to be recognized as a major force for the timber industry in Oregon politics.
“We have a pretty big political action committee and we’re very active in all the political industry issues, along with other associations in our state and in the United States,” Yraguen said. “We work closely to defend our rights and keep a good business environment available to us.”
He said he prioritizes facilitating events and communications between contract loggers and related businesses.
The association has a for-profit and nonprofit side. The for-profit side runs an insurance program for workers compensation, and in the future the board is looking at offering property and casualty insurance as well.
“Right now just with workers comp and health insurance, the competition’s great in that area, so we want to be able to have a full package for our members and give them the benefits of being in a large association,” Yraguen said.
AOL also wants to continue to promote sustainable Oregon forests, continuing education for loggers and forest operators and uphold its status under Oregon Professional Loggers.
The nonprofit side of the association holds fundraising events, in which Yraguen acts as auctioneer.
Dorena Kliewer, office manager for Associated Oregon Loggers, said Yraguen has raised a lot of money through the auctions and is very helpful with many organizations, including Log a Load for Kids, a program to improve the health of children through education, research and treatment at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other hospitals.
Log a Load began in 1988 when loggers donated a load of logs-worth of funds to the Children’s Miracle Network.
“It’s been a really great part of being in the association and all our members really enjoy having the Children’s Miracle Network being the benefactor of our monies,” Yraguen said.
He added that being a part of the association has been rewarding and he looks forward to his term as president.