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N.C. Company Offers Complete Clearing: Shelton Logging & Chipping Leans Heavily on Morbark Chipper and Tub Grinder
N.C. Contractor Depends on Morbark Chipper, Grinder
Date Posted: 4/1/2008
STONEVILLE, North Carolina — There are any number of critical facets to logging and clearing operations, including felling and skidding, delimbing and bucking the stems, grubbing stumps, chipping or grinding, and hauling.
To be able to provide support in any of these areas can prove both professionally and financially rewarding. To be able to offer customers the complete package — taking a prospective development from wooded area to one that is clean and ready for grading — separates a contractor from the rest of the pack.
Such is the case with Shelton Logging & Chipping in Stoneville, N.C. When the company bids a new job, it offers a range of services that few other contractors can match in the Winston-Salem-Greensboro-High Point region.
While all its equipment plays an important role in keeping things moving smoothly, company representatives say its grinding equipment is undoubtedly a key to Shelton’s success.
Staying Close to Home
David Shelton started his company in 1966. The veteran construction worker still operates heavy equipment with the company. David’s sons, Brian and Ernie, are now principals in the business.
The company sometimes will venture outside its geographic market area, noted Brian, but such instances are rare.
“When times demand it, we obviously go where the work is,” he said. “As a result, we’ve been to Charlotte and Raleigh, but we generally try to stay within 70 miles of our home. While it’s true that we can make more money in Raleigh, in many cases our operation is all about the chips and the value they bring. All the chips that we would generate would still have to come back to Winston-Salem, so any extra pay we make would be offset in added hauling costs. We have seven or eight builders in this area who are steady customers of ours, and we rotate between several of them at any given time. Just as one is finishing up, another is starting. It has really served us well.”
Adding to the Mix
Operating as a dedicated land clearing company at the outset, David saw, over time, that a real market — boiler fuel – developed for the wood waste he generated in his projects. He bought his first chipper in 1980.
“Our first unit…served us well for a number of years until we realized that we needed better production than we were getting,” he recalled. “We first contacted Morbark in 1986 about getting a chipper from them, and when we saw what it could do, we bought it. Its performance was powerful, steady and reliable. In 2000, when we decided to add a tub grinder to the operation to handle the stumps we generated in our projects, we went right back to them and bought a Model 1300. Today we can take a site from full wood to ready-to-grub to a marketable material in no time, and our grinding equipment made the difference in bringing that about.”
Although each project presents different challenges and demands, Shelton Logging & Chipping’s business philosophy is the same for each: give the customer what they want.
“Generally we won’t grind material from a site if we don’t log and chip it,” said Brian, “but there have been instances when a customer will ask us to cut the timber but leave the grubbing for them. In that case, they will grub it and pile it, and then we will come in and grind the piles. Others will ask us to grind the material and leave it to be used in different areas of the site. So we have a pair of 30-ton and 23-ton haulers that we bought used at auction to take the material from the grinder to the areas. In construction of any type, you need a good truck to haul dirt, but even a good used one will put you back anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000. But since these trucks will sometimes sit for months without being needed, we could never justify the cost of a new one.”
The trucks do more hauling for Shelton in situations in which the terrain is challenging — either naturally or due to heavy rains. “Usually we will lay a road, then grind and windrow material, pulling the grinder along as we go,” explained Brian. “However, when conditions are tough, it would take us too long to lay a road down, so we simply reverse the process and use the trucks to take material to the grinder.”
Logs from any project are graded and sold to sawmills in the region. Pine logs usually are sold to a Virginia company and two smaller mills. Grading the logs enables the company to get the maximum value for the wood.
“The prices we get are driven by the markets the mills themselves have,” noted Brian, “but grading is a necessity. Generally all our good grade logs will go to one mill, but other mills might pay better for second grade timber than for first grade. It can really vary. We also try to haul to several different mills to keep our options and our opportunities open.”
More Than Performance
Shelton’s Grinders, a Morbark Model 22RXL Total Chiparvestor and the Morbark Model 1300 tub grinder — are used to process wood into boiler fuel or material that is used on the job site. They have chosen to stay with Morbark because of the performance they get from the machines, said Brian. However, he added, it is much more than that.
“Morbark is excellent for support,” he said. “We keep going back to them not just because they make a good piece of equipment but because they stand behind it. Parts availability is never an issue for us. Richmond (Virginia)) is the closest Morbark parts store, so I can call and it will be delivered the next day.”
“I had a serious situation last year that was caused by my own fault, and it ended up costing us a mill,” he continued. “Morbark found me a replacement mill, helped us with the installation of that replacement unit, and we were back up and running in less than a week. That’s what we need in an equipment supplier, and we always get that level of support.”
The company recently purchased a second Morbark Model 1300 tub grinder. “This was probably the easiest sale any salesman ever had,” said Brian. “I just called our local Morbark sales rep and said, ‘Give me the same as my old machine.’ ”
Of course, the newer model has some improvements, he noted. “Because this new machine has some design changes, it seems to be about 10 to 15 percent more aggressive than our older one. Mind you, I rarely run both tub grinders at once — I actually bought the second unit to allow me to use as a back-up. But there have been instances when I’ve needed both, and it has been a nice luxury.”
“Over the years, we’ve always been very impressed with what our chipper can do,” said Brian, “and we still are. But we’ve really come to appreciate the power of a Morbark tub grinder. When you see a machine eat a 22-inch diameter tree or stump, that’s pretty amazing.”
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