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Carr Logging Likes the Agility of Rottne Forwarder
Brian Carr weighed the value of used equipment and decided it was the economical way forward. He replaced his original Rottne with a newer Rottne two years ago. Both machines were purchased from Blondin Inc. in Indiana, Pa. Brian also uses a Timbco 425D track carrier with a Log Max 750 head.
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 4/1/2011
NEW ALBANY, Pennsylvania — Thoughtful meets no-nonsense in the approach that Brian Carr takes to business. Brian is the owner of Carr Logging, LLC.
For as long as he can recall, Brian wanted to be a professional logger. Yet he did not just leap into the cut-to-length operation he now runs. After high school, he headed to college to cultivate his passion for trees.
In 1996, Brian earned an associate degree in forestry from Penn College (aka Pennsylvania College of Technology) in Williamsport, Pa. Then, he got plenty of experience by first working with his father, grandfather and uncles as a partner in their logging business.
By 2002, Brian felt ready to launch his own business, Carr Logging. Using a Stihl chain saw to cut, he got going.
“I worked with a cable skidder, loader, slasher and bulldozer [at first],” said Brian. “Then, I got a Bell three-wheel feller buncher.” To keep pace with the Bell, he soon added a Rottne forwarder.
Striving to maintain his operation on a strong financial footing, Brian weighed the value of used equipment and decided it was the economical way forward. He replaced his original Rottne with a newer Rottne two years ago. Both machines were purchased from Blondin Inc. in Indiana, Pa.
A word-of-mouth recommendation prompted Brian to consider a Rottne forwarder. “Another local logger had nothing but good things to say about them [Rottne forwarders],” he explained. “[So] I spoke with Rikard [Olofsson] with Blondin.” (Rikard is president of Blondin Inc.)
Brian explained that talking with Rikard sold him on Rottne and Blondin. He liked the track record and deep expertise that Rikard had with Rottne. Rikard began working with Rottne in 1989 and he has been with Blondin since 1995.
Across the years, said Brian, Rikard has made several trips to job sites to gain a firsthand appreciation of the Carr Logging approach. In fact, he explained, he developed such high regard for Blondin that he has gone to the dealer for other equipment. “That’s why I went with Log Max,” he said.
Brian chose a used Log Max 750 head for his used Timbco 425D track carrier when he replaced his Bell feller buncher in 2010. He credits his experience with the Bell dangle head as readying him for a smooth transition to the Log Max.
Brian’s eight-wheel Rottne forwarder, a 12-ton machine often called a Rottne Rapid, moves in tandem with the Timbco harvester. “My father-in-law, John Kennedy, runs the forwarder,” said Brian.
John is the only fulltime employee (in addition to Brian) at Carr Logging. When there are big hardwoods in the picture, Brian often hires a contract hand cutter. Stihl, which got his business started, continues to be his chain saw of choice.
“We process right at the stump,” said Brian. “We get all the saw logs we can.” But the company also cuts pulp wood.
Carr Logging is currently cutting in a long-term arrangement with Deer Park Lumber, Inc. in Tunkhannock, Pa. Seventy-five percent of the species cut by Carr are mixed hardwoods, which include native red oak, white oak, cherry, ash, maple, beech, birch, poplar and basswood. The remainder is a mix of pine and hemlock.
Based in New Albany, Pa., Carr Logging generally works within an 80-mile radius of home. New Albany is a borough in Bradford County. Its population is just over 300.
Bisected by the Susquehanna River and punctuated by the foothills of the Appalachians, Bradford and the entire northeastern part of the Keystone State are fertile areas for hardwoods. The region is hilly. The hills roll, but they may have quite a steep grade.
The agility of the Rottne forwarder on hills earns it high marks from Brian. Although it is on wheels, the compactness of the machine gives it great stability.
A need for steadiness is one of the reasons that Brian wanted a Timbco carriage for his Log Max head. The Timbco 425D, which is on tracks, has leveling capabilities that keep it anchored even on impressive inclines. Brian purchased his Timbco 425D from CJ Logging Equipment, Inc. in Boonville N.Y.
Prior to beginning the transition to cut-to-length, Carr Logging had confronted some slowdowns due to weather. “We had several wet years,” said Brian. “Mud was a problem.”
Moving to a Rottne forwarder made a great difference when the substrate was moist. “It doesn’t rut up [the ground],” said Brian, pointing to the forwarder. But its benefits just start there, he explained.
“The Rottne forwarder, I really like that it’s [less work] compared to skidding trees,” said Brian. “[And] it’s more fuel efficient than the skidder.”
Another plus deriving from the forwarder reveals itself at the completion of each job. “My residual stand looks a lot better,” said Brian.
Appearance and a job well done are complementary outcomes at every site, explained Brian. “I do take a lot of pride in my work,” he said.
“We do a lot of TSI [timber stand improvement] work,” said Brian. In that context, his practical experience and his formal background in forest management become very important.
To be sure, Brian said he would like to be able to spend more time doing things such as cruising timber. But for now he is focused on running a successful business and operating the harvester.
Carr Logging generally cuts saw logs in lengths of eight feet to 16 feet. The pulp wood is cut in lengths of 18 feet to 20 feet. The knuckle-boom loader on the Rottne handles all lengths very well, said Brian.
The Rottne has separate hydraulic systems for the transmission and the working hydraulics. Its low frame is built to be strong. And the low frame translates into a low center of gravity.
The axles on the Rottne are built to be both strong and flexible. Coupled with larger wheels – 26.5 inch in height – the axles ensure that that loads are easily built without any unpredictable movement.
Choosing to buy a Rottne forwarder from Blondin yielded to good results, explained Brian. The forwarder itself – and the Blondin experience “has been great.”
Brian does most of his own maintenance on equipment. He appreciates the telephone consultation he can get about the Rottne from Blondin whenever necessary.
It’s difficult to overstate how much Brian enjoys being immersed in the wood products industry. “I used to go to the woods as a kid,” he said. “I was really lucky. I just kind of knew what I wanted to do [early on].”
In addition to being engaged in logging, Brian’s elders also farm. And today, he, too, still does some farming. Most of the farming is tied to dairy.
A sawmill is also among the businesses in the extended family. “My dad and uncle still have it,” said Brian. “It’s a circle mill with an edger and debarker. It’s getting kind of old, but still good.” Mostly hemlock is sawn there.
In addition to the Rottne forwarder and Timbco and Log Max pair, Brian owns a John Deere 540D skidder and a John Deere 550G bulldozer. He relies on the machines for road building.
Brian is member of the Northern Tier Hardwood Association (NTHA). Headquartered in Towanda, Pa., the NTHA was established as part of a state initiative to promote the hardwood resources of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In the northern tier of the state, more than 4,000 square miles are forested. And hardwood species account for nearly 90 percent of the forested area. Read more about the NTHA and the employment its member businesses provide at www.nthardwoods.org .
For his part, Brian is happy to stay on the logging side of the wood products equation. He does not envision getting involved in sawing. He likes being in the woods and making the most of valuable fiber in a sustainable way.
As part of his commitment to the long-term health of forests, Brian focuses. “I’m a local logger,” he said. By knowing his region and trees well, he can do an excellent job in the woods.
In the whole of the work Brian has done for Deer Park recently, there has been acreage on land belonging to local water authority. On that large, 500-acre tract, minimizing soil disruption was a crucial consideration. Any unwarranted impact could have a negative effect on water quality. The Rottne has been a great partner in ensuring that the land is treated gently.
Aiming to put all the pieces of the economic puzzle together, Brian looks to good equipment and solid relationships with reliable dealers, such as Blondin. And he also seeks good advice wherever he can, including the choice of a bank and a banking officer that understand forestry and farming. Prudence is another word for no-nonsense – and it guides Carr Logging.
Outside of the business day, Brian has a definite passion. “I spend time with my family,” he said. He and his wife have two young sons. They often hunt, fish and drive four wheelers around the farm.
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