Jacksonville-based land management group merges

Published on Sunday, 24 November 2013 21:36 - Written by FAITH HARPER fharper@tylerpaper.com

A merger between two land management companies brings East Texan landowners more options.

James Houser Consulting Foresters LLC, a Jacksonville-based Forrest management company, announced a merger with Farmers National Company.

JHCF has been in business since 1981 and manages more than 200,000 acres of timberland in the East Texas area with tracts ranging from 10 to 8,000 acres, said James Houser, former President of JHCF and current vice president of FNC’s forest management division.

The company helps landowners in a variety of ways, including giving tips on when and how to plant timber, how to thin out forests and ensuring landowners receive a fair price or their timber, Houser said. They also manage about 25,000 deer leases in East Texas, including the hunting operations on the properties.

“(We went through) eight months of negotiation, making sure their business model matched ours, making sure all of our people would come over to our company and that nothing would change for our clients — no increase in fees, but a just a wider range of services for our customers,” Houser said.

Those services include mineral management, when the company can negotiate a fair price between oil and gas companies and landowners for their resources. The company also can draw up contracts.

The company can manage lakes, including how to build, maintain and stock them. They also will walk the owner through the bureaucratic tape to get a lake built, Houser said.

Other new services include a real estate division to help sell property on a national scale, a national hunting lease network and property insurance.

Houser said FNC provided an array of services, but did not work with timber until the merger, and the Jacksonville firm brings more than 30 years of forestry experience to the table for FNC.

He said his office will remain in Jacksonville, and will serve as the forestry hub for the company. Depending on the demand for the new services, the office could expand, he said.

“My biggest fear is we get overwhelmed, that once (news of the new services) gets out there, we are going to be scurrying,” Houser said. “That’s a very good problem.”