In 1950, John M. Bradley, a young Yale University graduate, partnered with Harry E. Murphy, a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, to create Resource Management Service. From its beginnings as a consulting firm to private landowners, RMS capitalized on changing industry dynamics and proved itself as an important industrial timberland management and acquisitions firm. By advancing the state of the art in timberland investment management, RMS has grown into an accomplished global firm with assets under management on four continents—North and South America, Asia and Oceania—while remaining a private, employee-owned company.
From 1950 to 1965, RMS served the timberland management needs of non-industrial private timberland owners and investors. At that time, private individuals lacked an independent, business-savvy source of professional forestry advice. Foresters employed by local sawmills were available but presented obvious conflicts of interest, and government agency foresters rarely demonstrated entrepreneurial skills. In those early days, the firm pioneered many timber marketing and inventory techniques that are still in use today. In 1958 the company partnered with Travelers Insurance to develop the first loans to recognize timberland as collateral, marking the beginning of timberland as an investment-grade asset.
In the mid-1960s, most of the forest products industry, particularly in pulp and paper, moved to the southern U.S. Our knowledge of southern timberlands positioned RMS to assist a number of companies in analyzing potential mill locations. Relationships established with these companies led to RMS’s providing land acquisition services to build fee timberlands in support of three greenfield pulp and paper installations. We further leveraged those relationships to provide large-scale forest inventories for many of the major southern forest products companies.
In 1985, RMS partnered with John Hancock and another timberland manager to form the Hancock Timber Resource Group (HTRG). As the exclusive southern asset manager, we provided acquisition, management, and disposition services to HTRG’s institutional clients. The strategic alliance was highly effective, and our efforts built a southern portfolio valued in excess of $1.5 billion. As the timberland investment business matured, John Hancock began to move into asset management and our business relationship ended on December 31, 2003.
On January 1, 2004, RMS re-launched as an independent timberland investment manager and our experienced management team took our track record to market. We began to offer comprehensive timberland investment services directly to pension funds, endowments, foundations, and family offices, and by the end of 2016, we had $4.5 billion assets under management. Continuing RMS’ role as an industry innovator, RMS recently launched the first open ended structure for the timberland asset class.