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Kentucky Loggers Glad They Moved to C-T-L: Sutton Logging Adds TimberPro 810 Forwarder
Sutton Logging – Kentucky Logger Adds TimberPro to Work With Timbco-Risley Combo
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 2/1/2008
EDDYVILLE, Kentucky — There are two ways a logger can be versatile enough to move back and forth from mixed hardwoods to select cuts in plantation pines. One is to buy equipment tailored to each specific job, and the other is to invest in equipment that can do both.
Sutton Logging takes the latter approach. Justin Sutton co-owns the company with his father, Mike.
Sutton Logging did tree length logging up until several years ago. The Suttons employed a few other men to help fell trees and skid them to a landing for processing.
Now, there are just three employees — Justin, Mike and a truck driver, Billy O’Bryan. “In 2003, we changed to a cut-to-length system,” said Justin. They kept doing tree length logging for about a year during the transition.
The machine that got Sutton Logging started with cut-to-length logging was a Timbco carrier. “We bought a Timbco 425 new in 2003,” said Justin. It is equipped with a Risley Equipment Rolly II, a single-grip harvester that can fell trees and process them – delimb and cut to length — at the stump.
The Timbco and Rolly II combination has been going strong ever since. “It’s great,” said Justin. “It’s got 4,100 hours on it.” (That was mid-December, when he talked with TimberLine.) The equipment has needed nothing more than routine maintenance and a few new hoses.
The Timbco, a track carrier, was purchased from Woodland Equipment Inc. in Iron River, Mich. “We looked at different heads,” Justin recalled. “We looked at different machines. We talked to people. Woodland had the best reputation.”
Woodland Equipment markets the Timbco-Rolly II combination and developed its own computer to operate the Rolly II. The equipment can handle big hardwoods and maneuver in small spaces to do select cuts in plantation pine. Woodland Equipment developed its own computer for the Rolly II head.
Sutton Logging had done business before with Woodland Equipment; in the late 1990s Sutton Logging bought a Franklin forwarder from the dealer. Over the years, Sutton has relied on Valmet, Franklin and Caterpillar forwarders.
In the spring of 2007, however, the company invested in a new TimberPro 810 forwarder from Woodland Equipment for its sole forwarder. The TimberPro 810, an eight-wheel forwarder, was the top choice for several reasons.
“We just wanted a stouter, more efficient machine,” said Justin, who operates the harvesting equipment while his father operates the forwarder. “It’s stouter, it’s more stable, it’s quicker.”
The TimberPro 810 is equipped with EcoTracks in the winter to improve traction and maneuverability in snow. The machine, with the EcoTracks, performs well in snowy conditions, said Justin.
Justin and Mike took the same methodical approach to buying the TimberPro 810 forwarder that they did when they decided to purchase the Timbco 425 with the Rolly II. They got information on equipment, talked with other loggers, and watched machines operating on job sites or demonstrations. Ultimately, they found themselves back at Woodland Equipment.
Ron Beauchamp, president of Woodland Equipment, runs a very good dealership, said Justin. He also praised the service team at Woodland Equipment. “Jason (Brabank) and Wayne (Goldberg) are great on service calls,” he said. “Jim (Lund) is a good parts man if you have questions. Russ Fenick builds the computers and handles electronics issues.”
(Wayne is the manager of the service department, and Jason is one of the technicians; Jim is the manager of the parts department.)
Woodland Equipment has been in business 32 years. The company has a full-time staff of 15 employees and additional part-time staff. Woodland Equipment is committed to providing immediate access to customers who need technical support or service. The company offers equipment from TimberPro, Link-Belt, Risley Equipment and other manufacturers.
Woodland Equipment also has a program of offering remanufactured Rolly II harvesters. The attachments are stripped to the frame, cylinders repacked or replaced, and motors serviced or replaced. The program serves both loggers who want to maintain their equipment and get the maximum use out of it as well as loggers looking to buy used equipment.
The Timbco and Rolly II can handle exceptionally big hardwoods, said Justin. “I have cut a 42-inch red oak,” felled it and processed it. “But that’s the maximum.”
Staying with the Rolly II makes sense for Sutton Logging, said Justin. “We have looked into getting different heads for pine, but not knowing the future, the Rolly II is faster” in diverse species. The attachment can handle the big hardwoods and also work efficiently when thinning pine.
“We work a real variety” of job sites, said Justin. When working in hardwood forests, the company encounters a lot of oak and hickory.
When Justin talked to TimberLine, Sutton Logging was working on a 4,000-acre tract for River Oaks Timberland, thinning plantation pines. The Timbco 425 does well in thinning operations, he said. “It’s got the tight swinging radius,” which reduces the chance of damaging residual trees.
The Timbco 425 and Rolly II are productive. Sutton Logging does about five truck-loads of wood on a bad day and, during good logging conditions in summer, gets up to about seven.
Sutton Logging performs contract cutting for landowners. It has worked recently for New Page Corp. The customer, be it a corporation or private landowner, has the complete attention of Sutton Logging. “We work for the owners,” said Justin. “It’s their wood. We tell them to the best of our knowledge” about markets for their wood.
The Suttons also maintain relationships with mills in the region. “We cut to whatever the mills want,” said Justin. “We keep in close contact with the mills.”
Sutton Logging does a fair share of its own trucking. The company has two semi-tractors, a 2007 Peterbilt and a 2006 Mack, and it also contracts for hauling with B&D in Paris, Tennessee.
Justin, his older brother, Jason, and their father launched a small sawmill business, Sutton Lumber, just over two years ago. Sutton Lumber has been operating about two years. Jason often runs the mill alone although sometimes has a part-time helper. When weather hinders logging operations, Justin works at the mill, too.
The essential piece of equipment at Sutton Lumber is a Baker Products model 3667D Blue Streak band sawmill, which is set up in a shed. The Suttons bought the mill new from Baker. The mill cuts about 4,000 board feet per day – hardwoods.
“We don’t saw any pine,” said Justin. When Sutton Logging is cutting in pine, the lumber business must buy the hardwood logs it needs. When the Suttons are logging hardwoods, though, they can negotiate for logs. “We trade for a lot of our timber for ourselves,” explained Justin.
The mill cuts rough lumber, such as timbers for mines, cants for pallet companies, and rough boards for farmers and pallet suppliers. The Suttons have been very pleased with the Baker Blue Streak. “It’s great,” said Justin. “We chose one of the heavier mills” from Baker Products, and “they worked with us.”
Justin, Mike and Jason are certified Kentucky Master Loggers. The Master Loggers program is a cooperative effort of the University of Kentucky, the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Forestry Association, the Kentucky Forest Industries Association, and loggers. The Sutton Logging team also takes advantage of continuing education opportunities offered by the four partner entities. Sutton Logging works closely with the state Division of Forestry, which visits its jobs regularly.
The Suttons have a family history of logging. Justin’s grandfather was a logger, and his father, 52, has worked in logging his entire life except for a stint at a precious metals plant. Mike began working with a chain saw and a cable skidder, but he has changed methods over the years as the industry has increasingly mechanized.
When he was in high school and helping his father out part time, Justin considered studying forestry at college. “I knew I was going to do something in the forest industry,” he said. He got so hooked on logging and the business that he joined his father full-time when he graduated from high school in 1999. Justin is 26 and Jason is 28.
Jason earned a degree in agronomy from Murray State University and went into farming. After a few years, though, he felt the tug of the wood products industry and began working for Sutton Logging as a truck driver. At about that time, the father and sons began to consider starting a sawmill.
Sutton Logging and Sutton Lumber are based in Eddyville, a town of about 2,350 people in western Kentucky, some 30 miles east of Paducah.
The combination of the TimberPro 810 forwarder operating in tandem with the Timbco 425 and Risley Rolly II is so productive that it contributed in part to the ability of Sutton Logging to expand into the sawmill business.
The TimberPro 810 is powerful and has excellent maneuverability. The cab can rotate 360 degrees, so the operator can always face the direction where he is working with the knuckleboom. The operator can also work in front of the machine.
TimberPro provides loggers with versatility and flexibility because its machines can be equipped with a harvesting attachment or a grapple. One carrier can be used for felling and processing and also forwarding wood to the landing.
Sutton Logging finished the transition to cut-to-length logging in 2004. Justin is not the least bit nostalgic about tree length logging. “I don’t really miss it,” he said. “Everything is so much easier, safer, and quicker” with the cut-to-length equipment. Since Sutton Logging converted to cut-to-length, five other logging contractors in the region also have changed from tree length to cut-to-length.
Mike is on the board of directors of the Four Rivers Timber Association, an organization of logging contractors in western Kentucky and southern Illinois. Sutton Logging also participates in Log-A-Load for Kids, the charitable campaign of the Kentucky Forest Industries Assn. that raises money for Children’s Hospital at Lexington, Kty.
Sutton Logging occasionally hosts visitors, such as student groups, to its job sites. In recent years, for example, it has hosted forestry students from the University of Kentucky so the students could see cut-to-length logging.
Justin likes being in business and enjoys the forest products industry. “You can work at your own pace, your own rate,” and he likes “being outdoors all the time.”
The Suttons are active members of Dycusburg Baptist Church. “After the long days are over, Sutton Logging thanks God for everything we have and that He has given us,” said Justin.
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