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On the job with ... Mike Matre

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

"On the Job with...." is a regular feature of Sunday Inc. Today's feature is on Mike Matre, president of Matre Forestry Consulting, Inc. Realtor, Needmore Properties.

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. Get as much work experience as possible to go along with education, and network. The real world experience gained through internships paved the way to me finding a good job quickly out of college, and built my confidence. Since sometimes it really is not what you know but who you know, you have to network at all stages of your career.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first paycheck?

A. My first real job was in high school, and I probably spent the first pay check on gas.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found during the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. Production and quality work bonuses.

Q. What was your first job?

A. Landscape installation and maintenance during high school.

Q. What led you to your current position?

A. Growing up I spent a lot of time camping, fishing, and hunting with a group of lifelong friends. I enjoyed being outdoors and in the woods so much then, I figured there was a way to make a living outdoors. I researched a career in forestry as a school project at Westover High, and decided then forestry was for me. I started my own business after gaining enough experience because it felt like the natural next step in my career, I knew I would enjoy it, and to maximize my income potential.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. Three come to mind: My father and Matre Forestry Business Manager Marc Matre, my brother and owner of Matre Gallery Rob Matre, and fellow forester Burke Walters. Growing up and to this day, I have always admired the reputation my father has for treating people right and being ethical. My brother has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and he encouraged me to start Matre Forestry. During the first few years of Matre Forestry, I did a lot of contract forestry field work for Burke Walters. I had plenty of pure timber management experience from past work experience, but Burke taught me a good bit about mixing timber management with wildlife management and forest aesthetics, which is critical in the southwest Georgia quail plantation belt. I have always thought of these three good men as role models, and I appreciate them.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. Aggressively build savings during boom years.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology -- examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDA's, etc. -- what would you most like to see go away?

A. It wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit if automated phone systems went away.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. GIS Mapping software (Geographic Information Systems). GIS combines computerized mapping with database management, improving a foresters ability to manage thousands of acres timberland that varies in ownership, location, timber types, timber ages, stand conditions, harvests schedules, management needs, etc.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. "The Ultimate Sales Machine" by Chet Holmes. I read the Bible regularly, and my family enjoys nightly devotion.

Q. What is your morning routine?

A. It depends. If I have field work to do, I am usually up by 5, have some coffee and breakfast, read the paper, and gone by 6:30. If I am having an office day, I usually sleep in until 6:30, help get the kids off to school, and then head to the office about 8. Either way, I'm good as long as I get my coffee and paper time in.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. At this stage of my life, work and family is about it, and I like it that way. Golf and hunting and fishing are my favorite hobbies, and I do them once in a blue moon. College football, especially the Dawgs, is big in our family this time of year. I enjoy grilling for family and friends.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. Taking out a big start up loan to get all the stuff I wanted for my business right off the bat. If I knew then what I know now, I would have taken out a very small loan for bare essentials, and then bought extras over time with cash. I now have a "Dave Ramsey" way of thinking about finances.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. Helping my clients maximize the enjoyment and financial rewards of land ownership; and improving the financial productivity, the wildlife habitat, and the aesthetics of client lands.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. In forestry and the farm and timber real estate business, our workload fluctuates greatly, which makes staffing difficult.

Q. The most beneficial course I took in school was?

A. I consider most of my classes beneficial. One class that comes to mind is Business Law. As many written and verbal contracts as people enter into, both in business and in our personal lives, I have found a little general law knowledge to be very beneficial.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. A writer/author. I enjoy writing and am a contributing writer to the Georgia Forestry Association's bi-monthly magazine "Georgia Forestry Today." I also write a quarterly newsletter for my clients and others interested in forestry and farm/timber real estate.

Q. Finish this thought; "On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself ...

A. Vacationing more often during semi-retirement. I enjoy working and making money, so I do not see myself ever completely retiring.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Integrity. Business people without integrity are only in business temporarily.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. I don't have an iPod, but I have XM in my truck. At any given time you may find my XM on conservative talk radio, Dave Ramsey Show, Fox News, various genres of country and rock music, and sports talk radio. Sometimes you would find my radio turned off, since driving can be a good time for some peace and quiet.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken?

A. We took our family summer vacation in Hilton Head for a change this year. It was a refreshing change from the gulf coast. Hilton Head had everything you could want in a beach vacation, without that touristy feel. The developers of the island did a tremendous job preserving the natural beauty of the island.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific business over the past few years?

A. The real estate side of our business has certainly fallen off dramatically. The forestry side of our business has grown. With more and more people uncomfortable with the stock market and tired of dismal returns from CD's, bonds, and money market accounts; we have seen more people looking towards timber investments.