Aaron U. Jones, beloved founder of Seneca Sawmill, started his lumber mill in 1953 having just returned as a soldier from WWII. The government having declared new forest management plans came to town and held a meeting at the Eugene Hotel, where they requested people start lumber mills to provide jobs and resources for the community. In turn, they promised to provide timber for sale in perpetuity to run the mills. Aaron started Seneca with just a handful of guys working side-by-side, cutting down a few trees a day, hauling them into town, and putting them through a portable mill. Once they made a sale, they would load the bit of lumber onto a train car and send it off.
Having pulled himself up by his own boot straps, Aaron knew how important jobs were to people, especially during this time when jobs were scarce.
“All Aaron ever wanted to do was have a company where he could make a living and provide a living for others.”-Diana Ebersbacher (Aaron’s long time assistant).
Steadfast, Aaron grew his sawmill, despite two major recessions and declining access to timber. He always took excellent care of his employees and looked after them like family. Seneca has since grown into the Seneca Family of Companies with over 450 employees, giving rise to Seneca Jones Timber, Seneca Noti, and Seneca Sustainable Energy.
Aaron’s three daughters, Becky, Kathy and Jody Jones now carry on his legacy as co-owners of the Seneca Family of Companies. Aaron, having passed away in 2014, was always passionate about helping others and he instilled that passion in his daughters. Today, Becky, Kathy and Jody carry on Aaron’s core values and continue to pave the way for their employees, their industry, and for Oregon.
“Education is so valuable. It should be available to anyone who wants it and is willing to put in the work.” -Co-owner Becky Jones.
The Seneca Scholarship program was established to be accessible and applicable to all students. A special part of this scholarship is to have an impact on education. With research, interviews and an essay, it is not just handing out money, it is about asking people to look at what is going on in timber management in the forests of Oregon, what has gone on in the past, and the potential for the future. Students can put themselves in a position to earn a scholarship while at the same time they are educating themselves about something that is extremely important to the state of Oregon but also to the viability of our natural resources.
“We absolutely love that it is open to all students, irrespective of GPA, how much community service they have done or how they “qualify” for college in any other way. We say, “if this intrigues you and you want to go to college and you want to apply for this scholarship, you are absolutely welcome to do that, happily so.” -Co-owner, Kathy Jones.
If you would like to learn more about The Seneca Family of Companies, click here to be directed to their website.