|The online newspaper for the forest products industry including loggers, sawmills, remanufacturers and secondary wood processors.|
Logging Leaders Explore Issues at Meeting
John Deere hosts gathering of American Loggers Council board of directors and trade media
By Alan Froome
Date Posted: 9/1/2004
Board members arrived for the weekend meeting from all across the U.S. Practically every state was represented, from
The theme of the meeting was ‘Focusing on the Future,’ but the concept of the sessions was a little different this time. For one, representatives of the forest products industry trade press were invited to attend and participate in many of the discussions. The program also included equipment demonstrations and meetings by John Deere for the benefit of the media.
John Deere and Timberjack hosted an informal reception the first night to kick off the weekend meeting. Bill Wells, manager of John Deere forestry communications, welcomed the board members and media representatives. He introduced other members of the John Deere forestry team: Mikko Rysa, vice president of sales and marketing world-wide; Don Switzer, North American sales and marketing director. The weekend program was organized by Bill Wells and Dorothy Torbush of Clean Design, the new advertising agency for John Deere and Timberjack.
Visit to John Deere
Board members and media representatives were picked up by bus Saturday and taken to John Deere’s world headquarters, which is in manicured parkland. The building was designed by renowned Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, and it won several architectural awards when it was built some 40 years. The group gathered in the theater used for audio-visual presentations, which has a big screen, rotating stage and four levels of balconies.
John Deere is now the world’s largest manufacturer of forestry machines. Most of the company’s manufacturing operations are in
“We have four distinctive brands — John Deere, Timberjack,
Global Forestry Industry
Mikko gave a detailed presentation, pointing out that John Deere and Timberjack are now the leading forestry machine brands. They account for over half of the world market of 6,000 to 7,000 machine units per year, he said, while the next leading manufacturer is only one-third that size. Sales are increasing — company figures indicate that the forestry machine market bottomed out in 2001.
Mikko travels a lot overseas and has a truly global perspective on the logging business. He answered several questions from the board members, particularly on the effect of cheap logs and lumber from
Don discussed John Deere’s dealer network (380 at the last count), which offers 70 different forestry machines, including 29 skidder models and 15 feller-bunchers. Other presentations covered credit and financing services. The Nortrax program can buy a dealership –if the dealer retires, for example — in vital areas to keep parts and service available.
Dave McFarlane described the six successful John Deere-Hitachi track machines that his division builds in Langley, B.C. Doug Landers talked about the Waratah felling and harvester heads that are produced in
Mike Ptacek from John Deere in
David Althaus demonstrated the John Deere forestry machine simulator and described some advanced harvesting technology projects, like the revolutionary Walking Machine, which was shown recently on the Discovery TV channel. The simulator is used regularly at dealerships around the country to train new feller-buncher and forwarder operators.
The program was followed by a visit to
ALC Roundtable 1
At the first ALC roundtable meeting, several invited speakers delivered remarks followed by general discussion.
Keith Balter, vice president of RISI, a consulting company based in
Keith attributed the sluggish timber markets to increased recovery at mills (resulting in fewer logs needed), consolidation in the lumber and paper industry (fewer but larger mills), plus increased competition from
“Lumber consumption is up 26 percent from 1993, but saw logs from
Jim Petersen of the Evergreen Foundation, which publishes Evergreen magazine, talked at length about the history of
David Knight, co-publisher of Timber Processing magazine, was optimistic. The pulp and paper industry is still in the doldrums, he noted, but demand for
There are fewer mills today, Dave acknowledged, but they are bigger; 21 of the 30 biggest mills are located in the
Randy Hervey of Bituminous Insurance Co. took up the theme of 24-hour logging. His company essentially would not insure a logging company that operates around the clock because of concern about increased accidents and injuries. The industry is safer today with fewer claims, he said, but accidents are very severe. His company might consider providing insurance if a logger was running two shifts where skidding and loading were the only activities of the second shift — and only if mills demanded it.
American Loggers Council president Steve Hanington thanked the speakers and John Deere for sponsoring the event. “The ALC has 27 state and regional organizations represented here,” said Steve, a logging contractor from
The meeting was opened to questions from the floor. One participant asked what kind of regulations loggers face in
Asked about Appalachian hardwoods, Keith said the inventory is getting tighter, and there is much competition from abroad, such as furniture from
Another person asked if
John Deere representatives were asked what the company was doing to help change public perception that logging is bad for the environment. The questioner noted the logging industry is nervous about a Democrat administration replacing the Bush White House. Don said that John Deere could not get involved in political questions.
Don was also asked if John Deere was willing to get more involved in operator training because of the difficulty of hiring and training new employees in the Southeast. Government funds are available to fund training, he said, and suggested working with local elected officials to obtain funding.
John Deere Meets Press
John Deere hosted the media to a breakfast meeting the next day. Bill discussed John Deere’s team approach to marketing. Eric Honsantia talked about the pending introduction of lower emission Tier 3 engines on John Deere machines; even tighter regulations will take effect in future years to Tier 4 engines. Mikko said that good operator training can have a huge effect on productivity and uptime; this will be a strong focus for John Deere for the next several years, he indicated. Don talked about the successful merger between John Deere and Timberjack; both brands will continue to be sold in the
Asked about where the increase in machinery sales was coming from, Eric said, “Many U.S. loggers are now having to replace their machines after putting it off for so long. Some larger companies are also modernizing after taking over some of the smaller outfits.”
Mikko was asked about the generally pessimistic outlook for logging that was discussed the day before. He expects the global market for wood products to grow strongly in the next 12 months, and he compared the short term outlook to “one wave in a much bigger ocean.”
ALC Roundtable 2
The ALC board of directors held another open meeting following a closed door session. The second roundtable was chaired by Steve and featured a discussion with the media open to any issues.
The first question, from TimberLine, raised the issue of the poor public perception of logging. It was suggested that “forest management” would be a better term to use than “logging” with more emphasis placed on replanting trees. Participants agreed the industry needs to make an effort to improve its public image. One person noted that loggers only cut trees where a land developer or sawmill has contracted them to cut, yet loggers always get the bad publicity directed at them.
Dave Knight suggested sponsoring an annual forestry appreciation day as a way to improve public relations, and many thought it was a good idea. A board member from
The American Loggers Council and John Deere-Timberjack deserve a big ‘thank you’ from the trade media for a very productive and pleasant summer meeting.
Do you want reprints or a copyright license for this article? Click here
Research and connect with suppliers mentioned in this article using our FREE ZIP Online service.