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Cutting to length with TimberPro TL 735 Track Machine Represents Big Shift at Quarter Century Mark

After twenty-six years, a successful and dedicated Tennessee-based logger adds cut-to-length to his repertoire with TimberPro machines purchased from Woodland Equipment, Inc. and Bush Forestry.

By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 9/1/2010

TENNESSEE RIDGE, Tennessee — Legacy was the old word, succession is the new. But whatever it is called, a business owner thinks long and hard about the best way to keep a business going strong across generations. J. W. Smith, the owner of J.W. Smith Logging, did. The solution, he explained, was to make a dramatic change in approach.

            At the end of spring, J.W. (“J.W.” the name by which all know him) added cut-to-length (CTL) to what had been a tree-length logging operation since its inception in 1984. To make the transition, he purchased two key machines. One is a new TimberPro TL735 track feller buncher. The other is a TimberPro 810 forwarder.

            J.W. bought the TimberPro TL735 new from Bush Forestry in Huntingdon, Tenn. He purchased the TimberPro 810 forwarder, as a used machine, from Woodland Equipment, Inc. (WEI) in Iron River, Mich. It was Ron Beauchamp, president of Woodland Equipment who helped J.W. gather information he needed to make the decision that CTL cleared the path to the future.

            “I met Ron Beauchamp three years ago,” said J.W. “He came here to my woods.” The time Ron took to understand the operation at J.W. Smith Logging meant a lot to J.W.

            The experience of deliberating with Ron built on the good impression J.W. already held of TimberPro. Even before meeting Ron, J.W. had visited Pat and the TimberPro headquarters in Shawano, Wis. There he had seen TimberPro machines being built. “They have a good product,” said J.W. “They stand behind their machine.”

            J.W. took time to assess what a shift to CTL would mean, what investment in new equipment would be necessary, and – most crucial of all — when he could afford to commit to the equipment necessary. When all the pieces were in place, J.W. went ahead with the purchase of the two TimberPro machines, taking delivery in early June. Switching to CTL ensures his business will capture the energy of the economic forces at work in the early 21st century.

            “I felt, I’m 63 years old and my son is 30,” said J.W. “I felt like we’d not be able to drag trees” in a profitable number for the indefinite future.

            When we talked with J.W. in mid-August, both TimberPro machines were getting good reviews from their operators. That pleased J.W. who keeps his attention focused on the bottom line.

            J.W.’s son Derek runs the TimberPro TL735. “He loves it,” said J.W. “He said it’s like a video game” in terms of ease of use.

            The TimberPro TL735 has an IQAN-MDL implement control system. The system simplifies use of the feller buncher and increases productivity. The high-set cab of the TL735 enhances visibility and thereby contributes to speed of processing.

            The TimberPro 810 forwarder also gets a great review. “It works very well,” said J.W. The forwarder is an eight-wheel machine, which is built stout for stability and agility in coursing through dense tracts. Brian Westmoreland operates J.W.’s TimberPro 810.

            Riding on tracks, the TimberPro TL735 maneuvers well in the steep and hilly areas where J.W. Smith Logging often operates, said J.W. Generally, there is not an abundance of snow in the region, but J.W. expects the track machine to be a good match for any snow that falls.

            J.W. Smith Logging is based in Tennessee Ridge, Tenn. and cuts within a 100-mile radius of its home base. When we talked with J.W., he was 80 miles away from that base.

            Tennessee Ridge is an incorporated town with approximately 1,350 residents. Its elevation is 761 feet above sea level. The town is part of Houston County, which is in the western part and northern tier of the Volunteer State. Just 20 miles separate the town from the border with Kentucky to the north.

            Tributaries to the Big Sandy River and the Tennessee River traverse the region where J.W. Smith Logging cuts. The forests are rich in hardwood species, as well as pine.

            “Right now we’re in pine,” said J.W. The pairing of TimberPro TL735 and TimberPro 810 was working very well there. J.W. explained he expects the machines to keep up their excellent performance in hardwood stands. The hardwoods cut include a preponderance of oak and hickory species.

            The 360-degree cab swing on the TimberPro 810 forwarder makes a big difference in efficiency, said J.W. He explained that he had been accustomed to log loaders with a much more limited view.

            Choosing a head for the TimberPro TL 735 required a close look at the types of stands where the machine would be working. J.W. chose a Risley Rolly II, which he said is “best for needs” in two important ways. (The Rolly II is made by Risley Equipment, which is located in Thunder Bay, Ontario.)

            “The disc is intermittent,” said J.W. “I didn’t want a bar and chain. We have a lot of brush.” And the possibility of the chain tangling with the brush was just as real as it was unwanted.

            “I buy all my timber and then cut it,” said J.W. “I sort my logs and sell grade logs to different places.” Among the biggest customers of J.W. Smith Logging are New Page Corp., the largest producer of coated paper for magazines, and PCA Corp., which makes container board and corrugated — and develops packaging solutions.

            Woodland Equipment and Bush Forestry worked collaboratively to ensure that J.W. had the equipment he required to move to CTL. After Ron made his initial on-site visit, J.W. was able to keep discussions going with Don.

            “He’s done a good job of logging,” said Don of J.W. “He’s made the right decision for his operation” by going to CTL. “He wants his son to continue in the business and that’s what it’s going to take, CTL.” Don’s company has been a dealer of equipment from Pat’s first and follow-on enterprises in Wisconsin since 1998.                                     TimberPro and Rolly II have prominent places on the equipment roster at Woodland Equipment. The coupling of the TimberPro TL735 allows J.W. to amplify all the great features of both machines. The Rolly II, a single-grip harvester, relies on a geared rotational control system to enhance steady and accurate cutting to lengths. In turn, the Rolly II gets a great boost from the electric over hydraulic system on the TimberPro TL735.

            Because of the arrangement of the power systems on the TimberPro TL735, the track carrier can carry out multiple tasks simultaneously. For example, it can move and grasp.  Moreover, its speed on tracks is very good. Cab leveling capability makes it a perfect match for rolling terrain.

            A native of Tennessee, J.W. started his logging company after completing military service. “I grew up on a small farm and we would do a little logging in winter,” said J.W. “I was drafted into the army at age 22 and I was in the army 12 years.” After he left the army, J.W. launched his logging company.

            Today, there are six employees at J.W. Smith Logging. In addition to the CTL team, a tree-length crew continues to run. That team operates with a Tigercat 720 harvester, a John Deere 648-G3 skidder and a John Deere 437 knuckle-boom loader. J.W. typically stays very busy with the logistics of the business, but when he fills in, he generally runs the skidder.

            A long-time member of the Tennessee Forestry Association, J.W. is happy with the decision he made to pursue a path in logging. “I like being able to get out in the woods,” he said. He explained that he particularly enjoys the placid environment, the solitude it affords.

            J.W. also explained that he welcomes being able to ensure an income stream absent the concerns non-business owners have about who is in charge and where they might next locate their business. He aims to keep his business strong in its current environs. Keeping pace with changes in the marketplace is a strategy that unites J.W. Smith Logging with both of the equipment dealers that cooperated to outfit the company for CTL.

            Woodland Equipment is a 36-year-old, family-owned business that strives to develop new ways to serve customers. In addition to selling new and used equipment, Woodland Equipment established a rebuild program for the Rolly II head. It can take a long-in-service head down to its bare frame, allowing the head to be reconditioned and fitted with a new computer control system. Woodland has been rebuilding Rolly heads for over ten years. This targets the used market where the purchaser is trying CTL for the first time and gets a reliable rugged CTL machine for a lower investment. Many of these harvesters are sold in areas not familiar with CTL.

            Although Bush Forestry only recently became a dealer for TimberPro, Don has owned the company and been serving the needs of loggers for 32 years. And for 12 years, he has been selling products inspired by Pat’s creative mind.

            Indeed, it is the family-owned, committed-to-service dimensions shared by the vendors and manufacturers with which he works that J.W. particularly appreciates. Family ties and honesty are important to him.

            A grandfather of a primary-school-age boy, J.W. enjoys following the sports activities of his grandson. Above all, he relishes the free time hours he has to spend with his entire family.


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