Warren Peters, founder of PETERS Forest Resources (PFR) in Baton Rouge, has been around the forestry industry his whole life. “I was born into this business,” he explained. Growing up in Baton Rouge, Peters spent the early years of his life accompanying his father, Lewis, on deep woods expeditions. Lewis, who is now retired, was also a forester, and the family spent a lot of time on land owned by Warren’s maternal grandfather in St. Francisville. “I grew up in the woods and realized I kind of liked it,” Peters said.
His interest prompted him to start his own career in forestry, and he founded PFR in 1996. Peters and his team of three full-time foresters, a part-time forester, and a full-time forest technician now have more than one hundred years of combined professional experience, and they have spent the past twenty years building and refining their services in forest management, consulting, appraisals and evaluations, and brokerage.
The company’s tagline, “Helping people and their resources,” summarizes PFR’s work across a range of project scales and sizes. When clients approach Peters and his team for help managing their properties, the first step is to have a conversation about the individual’s or the family’s goals. Then Peters visits the property, studying its land, timber, and other features. PFR foresters’ knowledge and experience with rural land in Louisiana and Mississippi enables them to see potential that others can’t. Conversations with clients often center on balancing financial goals with recreational ones as well as factoring in emotional ties. “The way we look at it, it’s an investment, an asset. I look at myself as an asset manager more than anything,” Peters said.
Practically speaking, PFR foresters spend their days surrounded by pine, red and white oak, gum, poplar, hickory, and cypress, giving clients property-value assessments based on timber quality and quantity. Value is typically determined by the potential uses of both the timber and the land. Some land is best suited for recreational or hunting use, while other land serves better for commercial timber production. “Cutting timber is really good for deer management,” Peters said. Felling trees makes room for sunlight and promotes growth of new vegetation, attracting wildlife onto the land. In cases where clients approach him for advice on offers for timber purchase, Peters said that, nine times out of ten, the client will see a higher profit by working with PFR than if they’d dealt directly with the buyer. Peters chuckled, saying, “Grocery stores won’t let the customers tell them you how much the apples are worth.”
Most recently, PFR has expanded its brokerage business, representing an increasing number of clients in the acquisition and sale of rural properties through a partnership with United Country Real Estate. From the appraisal and forest-management side, Peters and his team have found brokerage a natural fit: “We know more about the land than most of the people trying to sell it.” In addition to their experience with land management and valuation, their affiliation with United Country has given them a marketing edge over competitors. Peters admitted, “You’re going to get more than a sign and a newspaper ad if you work with us.”
Selling a property through PFR and United Country gives clients access to distinct marketing services, including advertisements. Peters described how for rural land, “traditional MLS doesn’t work.” Thus, the advertising opportunities presented through PFR and United Country give sellers access to a much broader range of buyers. Properties are typically advertised on a number of websites, including the number-one-ranked rural real estate website in the country, newspapers, and magazines. They also have access to a private database that includes more than 500,000 potential buyers. Recently, the group sold over 2,200 acres in Evangeline Parish in less than five weeks in a multi-million-dollar deal. They have also celebrated successes with clients owning smaller tracts, some of which have been listed and sold in less than thirty days.
With all of their offerings and services, the PFR team has the knowledge and experience to help with virtually any land-related need. Peters said, “Give us a feel for what you’ve got and what you want to do with it, then we’ll make specific plans to accomplish your goals.” PETERS