Mike Cerchiaro heads FIA’s Investment Management Team (“IMT”). The IMT is responsible for the ongoing investment management of over 2.3 million forestland acres across the Americas. With its global footprint, the IMT focuses on analytics, data and active management to achieve operational excellence and unlock value across the full spectrum of forestland’s sustainable investment components. Mike’s nearly quarter century in forestry has spanned activity in academia, operations, logistics management, transactions and international investments. Mike joined FIA in 2004 and serves on FIA’s Board of Directors in addition to FIA’s Executive, Investment, Risk Management and ESG Committees.
In previous roles at FIA, Mike led all aspects of FIA’s international forestland investment program, developing FIA’s international capabilities. Prior to his international efforts, he started up and was the Manager of Broad Arrow Timber Company, a subsidiary company charged with the logging and delivery of 1.6 million tons of timber products on an annual basis to various facilities in the U.S. South. He also served as a Regional Investment Forester responsible for timber and alternative land use management on approximately 245,000 acres in Georgia and Florida. Prior to joining FIA, he was employed by Rayonier Inc. in Fernandina Beach, Florida as a Research Forester with focus on operationally minded silvicultural research.
What is your business philosophy?
As a forestland investment professional, I strongly believe in a long-term approach to value creation. This informs my approach to direct, ongoing management of our current businesses but also the attractiveness of new opportunities. Sustainability is intertwined with this long-term view and serves as the foundation of my desire to invest in human capital, community relationships and environmental stewardship.
Why did you choose this field /career path?
Like most individuals drawn to a career in forestry, I enjoy time outdoors which was my gateway to the sector. To be honest, when I signed up for my first forestry class, I had little to no knowledge of the forest industry and its importance to society. As I progressed in my studies and developed my career, ‘scale’ became important to me. I continue to be driven to deliver impactful forestland investments at scale.
I am a firm believer in sustainability managed, intensive forest management as a way to serve two important functions: 1) concentrate timber production onto targeted, but more productive sites; and 2) provide a framework to allocate alternative land uses, such as conservation and other ecosystem functions to a larger swath of area that would otherwise not be available without intensively cultivated plantations as part of the overall global wood supply.
What is one of the best lessons you’ve learned during your career?
Like compounding interest, your experiences compound over time. Taking opportunity to gain experience, through the acceptance of challenge, is a fantastic way to grow one’s abilities.