Birkeland lands new job

Birkeland. Submitted

By Steve Greenfield
Mike Birkeland was hired Dec. 6 as the new Executive Vice President of Minnesota Forest Industries (MFI) and the Minnesota Timber Producers Association (TPA). He succeeds Wayne Brandt, who passed away in September 2019 after helping lead the two forest products organizations for 30 years.

Since 2001, Birkeland has worked at Grand Rapids-based Lake Country Power, the past 13 years as its Director of Member Service and Community Relations. For seven years prior to 2001, he was Regional Communication Manager for Potlatch Corporation in Cloquet.

“Mike has a lot of passion and knowledge about the forest products industry, as well as the diverse skillset necessary to deal with our ever-changing industry,” said MFI Board Chair John Bastian.

TPA President Kurt Benson added, “Our members and other stakeholders are familiar with Mike from his work with Lake Country Power and Potlatch, so we already know the kind of quality person we’re getting for this key position.”

Birkeland, whose first day with MFI-TPA will be Jan. 13, 2020, said he’s humbled and ready to hit the ground running.

“It’s a privilege to have been chosen to represent and advocate for the 32,000 men and women who work in Minnesota’s woods and mills,” said Birkeland, 53. “I’m looking forward to building on Wayne Brandt’s legacy of excellence as the forest products industry continues to diversify the products it provides to the world.”

Minnesota Forest Industries is an association representing these state forest products companies: Bell Lumber & Pole Company; Hedstrom Lumber Company; Louisiana Pacific Corp.; Minnesota Power; Molpus Woodlands Group, LLC; Norbord Minnesota; Packaging Corporation of America; PotlatchDeltic; Sappi North America; Savanna Pallets; UPM, Blandin Paper Mill; and Verso Corporation.

The Minnesota Timber Producers Association is a trade association representing the loggers, truckers, sawmills and allied businesses in Minnesota.

Both organizations’ members encourage conservation, proper forest management and industry development that foster sound environmental stewardship, multiple use of timber lands and sustainable, long-term timber supply. MFI’s web address is