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Young Pennsylvania Logger Tackles Mechanized Logging: Mountainside Logging, LLC Finds Reliability and Speed in Log Max® Head
Efficiency is priority for new logging company.
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 11/1/2016
PORT ROYAL, Pennsylvania – Waste not. Want not. We know the adage well. Kyle Deamer, co-owner of Mountainside Logging, LLC, takes it to heart.
“Every move has to be as efficient as possible,” said Kyle, who purchased a Log Max® 7000C harvesting head in December 2015. “I try to do everything as efficiently as I can.”
In fact, it was the quest for efficiency – bolstered by an abundance of good questions to and advice from colleagues and industry experts — that led Kyle to the Log Max machine.
When Mountainside Logging launched in July 2015, it did so with two used machines, a 2008 Valmet 415EX and a 1995 Valmet 860 forwarder. The Valmet track carrier served well in the often less-than-flat terrain of central Pennsylvania where Kyle works, but the head on the carrier presented some problems.
As Kyle talked with other loggers in his region, there was a recurring recommendation. “Everyone I talked to around here said, ‘You need a Log Max’.”
Wondering how to get going on a search, he asked the owner of Metzler Forest Products for a suggestion. “Alan Metzler – he’s very knowledgeable in the forest industry – put me in touch with Tom Hirt.” (Prior to starting his business, Kyle worked for Metzler Forest Products in Reedsville, Penn., the company where his father, John Deamer, works fulltime. John is a co-owner of Mountainside Logging, but he does not work in the business.)
Tom is the Log Max regional sales representative for the Southeast United States (and part of Texas), as well as the owner of FSK Equipment in McKinney, TX. Whichever hat he is wearing, Tom has one goal and that is to help loggers.
Tom has been in the industry for 40 years and finding solutions to problems is a priority for him. “I can look at a problem and help solve it,” he explained.
As Kyle and Tom talked, Tom determined one of the biggest issues for Kyle was the amount of downtime he was experiencing with the used processing head. “I advised him that the machine he had, the Valmet 415, had plenty of power to support a Log Max head,” said Tom. “His was an easy problem to solve. We really tried to fit this head into what his critical needs were.”
Following research and discussions with Tom and colleagues, Kyle choose a Log Max 7000C. He was able to purchase a slightly used (1400 hours) head, which came directly from Log Max. The U.S. supplier for Log Max is headquartered in Vancouver, Wash.
“Service from Log Max is just awesome,” said Kyle. After Tom helped him with the purchase, Josh Fallon, product support sales representative for Log Max, went to Kyle’s job site to get the Log Max 7000C ready to use. Based in Minnesota, Josh travels to provide assistance to Log Max customers.
“[Josh] came out,” said Kyle. “He installed the new computer and got everything programmed. He’s been out here two or three times since then.”
The on-site visits by Josh are just one facet of the multi-part commitment Log Max makes to support customers in any way it can. “It’s very important to get out to a customer’s job site to help them solve problems,” said Josh. And if there are no specific problems, he aims to be present periodically to help customers refine techniques to extract the absolute best performance from their equipment.
Help is available in many ways from Log Max. As Tom explained, a customer can call Log Max from the cab and get help via phone.
Kyle purchased his Log Max 7000C head with the Log Mate® 500 control system. The computer works through a Windows-based platform and has the capability to do much more than the basics of friction control and four-point measuring.
Home to Mountainside Logging is Port Royal in Juniata County, Penn, which puts it very near to the center of the Keystone State — firmly nestled among the Appalachian Mountains. The town has a population of 955.
Kyle generally works within an 85-mile radius of Port Royal. From the inception of his company until March of this year, he had been cutting for mills on private land. Since March, he has been working as a subcontractor for Metzler Forest Products.
Switching between harvester and forwarder, generally devoting one day to each, Kyle is the sole equipment operator at Mountainside Logging. He expects that to change in time as the company grows.
Kyle likes to spend a full day on the harvester and then a full day on the forwarder. But that can vary. “[It’s] all depending on the weather and the trucking schedule,” he explained. Dispatchers keep him apprised of what he needs to do to meet the requirements of Metzler Forest Products.
“I try never to use a chain saw,” said Kyle. But if in rare circumstances he must, it’s a Husqvarna, the saw his father and uncle and he have always used. And since he is alone in the woods, if a chain saw is needed, following all protocols, he gets a second person from the Metzler team to work with him on that task.
Trained in SFI, Kyle is committed to sustainable practices that improve the great resource that forests constitute. “Most of the time, I’m in mixed hardwoods,” said Kyle. “Right now [in early October], I’m on a pine plantation, which we cut occasionally.”
In his subcontracting work, Kyle does sorts, too. “I cut everything and sort it to piles – saw logs, pulpwood, firewood, mulch,” he said. “The Log Max makes that great, also. I have all the presets in my computer to cut to what [size] they want.”
Going on 16 full months in business when he talked with us, Kyle said he continues to be tested. “It is definitely a challenge,” he said. “It’s definitely not as easy as I thought it would be to operate the machines and learn the machines. It’s definitely been a struggle.”
With his track harvester and six-wheel forwarder, Kyle continued working through the worst of the snow – two-feet deep – last winter. He put tracks on the back tires of the forwarder.
“I have not lost any time due to wet weather,” he said. “I can cut and use tops on the floor [as a mat].”
Evaluating the purchase of the Log Max 7000C head less than one year ago, Kyle concludes it might have kept his company viable. “The Log Max has definitely changed my business,” he said. “If I hadn’t changed my head, I don’t know how long I’d have been in business.”
There have been some unanticipated bonuses with the Log Max 7000C, said Kyle. Since the Log Max runs cooler, he anticipates it will extend the life of the Valmet carrier on which it rides.
Of course, there are full-out bonuses as well. “I went from four loads a week — now to two loads a day with the Log-Max [head],” said Kyle.
Junior year in high school marks Kyle’s official entry into the wood products industry. He went to work for Metzler Forest Products washing trucks. In his senior year, he participated in a co-op program, attending school mornings and then going to Metzler to work as a learning mechanic. After graduating, he stayed at Metzler and worked for the company six years total.
“I spent most of the time running a Morbark horizontal grinder, then a skidder,” said Kyle. At Metzler, he also had some experience with hot saws.
Getting into the wood products industry and becoming a business owner were two things never in doubt for Kyle. “I knew when I was a little kid – real little – that I wanted to own a business someday,” he said.
Two good role models have guided Kyle in his life. “My uncle had a mulch business only one-half mile from my house. My dad worked there 15 years.”
Kyle learned a lot from being around his father and his uncle. Both men are very good mechanics with a strong work ethic and a business-minded approach.
“My family has always been into getting peak efficiency,” said Kyle. It’s an approach he carries with him in the cab of the Log Max 7000C.
“Every move [in the harvester] has to be a safe one and a good one,” explained Kyle. “Every move has to be as efficient as possible.”
The approach yields a quality product in the most economical way, said Kyle. In addition, fewer movements with the heavy machine means there is less disturbance to wooded areas.
Kyle is very happy with the path he chose. “I like that I’m in charge and can make my own decisions – being my own boss.” He also likes the opportunity to be outdoors.
In his free time, Kyle enjoys hunting and fishing.
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