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Minnesota’s Goutermont Logging: Husband-Wife Team Pairs Barko Machines in Cut-to-Length Operations
Operator gives Barko 240 feller buncher highest marks for horsepower, track power and swing torque.
By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 2/7/2018
SILVER BAY, Minnesota – Passion is a crucial component of any successful business. And Katelyn Goutermont and Casey Goutermont, the owners of Goutermont Logging, have it.
Casey and Katelyn have owned Goutermont Logging since 2010. Operating near the north shore of western Lake Superior, Goutermont Logging harvests timber most often on county, state and federal land. The Superior National Forest is just north of the company’s home base in Silver Bay, Minn.
The birch, cottonwood, pine and spruce that are common in the area where the Goutermont team works demand tough equipment. In August 2016, Casey purchased a new harvester, a Barko 240, directly from Barko Hydraulics, LLC in Superior, Wis.
Prior to making the purchase of the Barko 240 to replace an older harvester, Casey did considerable research. He liked the design and operating style of the Barko 240 track machine. “[It has] significant superiority in horsepower, track power and swing torque,” he said.
The Barko 240 ultimately got the nod, though, because Barko was working with JP Skidmore LLC in Menominee, Mich., said Casey. “[Skidmore’s] new two roller, continuous rotation fixed head was Barko’s standard harvesting attachment.”
Skidmore manufactures three CF [continuous fell] harvesting heads, the CF-18, the CF-20 and the CF-22. The CF-22 has a larger saw bottom, aimed at improving control when working with larger diameter wood and longer tree lengths.
“I’ve been very pleased with the performance [of the Barko 240],” said Casey. “The hydraulic power of the 240 has been more than enough to operate the CF-22 head at max performance.”
The CF-22 is a recent introduction to the series of CF heads. “I opted for the CF-22 over the standard CF-18 head that Barko normally installed on the 240 because I wanted the ability to handle some bigger wood without having to wrestle so much with it,” said Casey. “And I’ve been very pleased with the decision. For a fixed head, it handles 20-inch-plus aspen, spruce and even maple quite well.”
Casey gives the team behind the Barko 240B great credit for listening to loggers. And in the summer of 2017, he had the opportunity to test the newest 240B model. “Four guys from Barko’s engineering and sales teams came out and asked me questions about the changes they had made – and my opinion on other improvements that could be made,” explained Casey. “It felt pretty good to have a company like Barko value the opinion of a small owner-operator like myself.”
In September 2017, Casey added a Barko 612 six-wheel forwarder to his roster. The Barko 612 has a 20-inch ground clearance and offers good weight distribution, a feature important when working on steep ground.
The stability of the Barko 612 forwarder was important to Casey. And it’s something he had verified by talking with other loggers. “Operators of the Barko 612 had reported it to be a very stable machine for its size,” he said.
There were two other criteria that figured in Casey’s decision to purchase the Barko 612 – simplicity and reliability. “Computers and electronics [are] kept to a minimum [and] only used where necessary to improve production,” said Casey. Moreover, there is “simplicity of design and easy maintenance.”
Then, there was the confidence in the reliability of the company. “We had a very good experience with Barko when purchasing the 240,” said Casey. It made sense to turn to Barko again.
Casey purchased the Barko 612 forwarder from Cam Hardwig of Northern Timberline Equipment in Littlefork, Minn.
“I was 16 when I started logging full time,” said Casey. “I was motivated because I really enjoyed cutting wood.”
Goutermont Logging was established by Casey’s father, Mark Goutermont, in 1981. Casey’s father took a pause from logging for several years, beginning when Casey was four years old. During the break, he worked for North Shore Mining. He returned to the woods part time when his sons started logging, while maintaining his full time job with the mining company.
“When I was around 16, my brother and I, along with our dad, started cutting wood with chainsaws and a cable skidder,” said Casey. Randy Goutermont, Casey’s brother who was there at the beginning, also took his own break from logging for a time, but has returned to work as a contract operator for Casey. A second contract operator, Jim Hecker, is a good friend of Casey’s.
There are no employees at Goutermont logging. The owner operators, Casey and Katelyn, keep things moving.
With a young child part of the family, Katelyn is now working just part-time. “I joined the business in 2010 when Casey and I married,” she explained. “I started out learning to run the old Barko slasher. When we transitioned from conventional to cut-to-length, I switched to operating our John Deere forwarder. I worked full time up until two days before our daughter was born in 2016.”
The four carefully chosen machines on which Goutermont Logging relies are the Barko 240, the Barko 612, the John Deere 1110D forwarder and a Fabtek 153 processor. “The Fabtek 153 harvester with a Fabtek four-roller head has been converted to a Skidmore two-roller head,” explained Casey.
Certain design and operating style similarities between the Fabtek 153 and the Barko 240 made the switch to the Barko 240 a “very easy” one, said Casey.
The CF-22 head on the Barko incorporates many ease-of-use features. They include the IQAN control system to control the harvesting head with precision. The head also has 360-degree continuous rotation with the center hose routing – a configuration that boosts maneuverability when cutting while simultaneously protecting hoses. And the CF-22 keeps moving parts to a minimum, with daily greasing being the only daily maintenance requirement for the head.
The Silver Bay, Minn. home to Goutermont Logging is a town of approximately 1900 residents. The town is part of Lake County. It lies about 55 miles northeast of Duluth, Minn.
Casey and Katelyn try to keep their job sites within 40 miles of Silver Bay. Although they log primarily on county, state and federal land, they have done some work on privately held tracts.
“We primarily sell wood as pulp but some bolts and logs too,” said Casey. A contract hauler is used by Goutermont Logging to transport lengths to the mill.
Pulpwood is delivered to LP in Two Harbors, Minn. and to Verso in Duluth or to the Verso yard in Superior, Wis. Bolts are sold to a few small sawmills in the area. Most saw logs go to Hedstroms Lumber Co. in Grand Marais, Minn.
Goutermont Logging has been fully mechanized for only a few years. Until four years ago, the team used the Fabtek 153 for felling and delimbing spruce, balsam and any cut pine, but chainsaws were still the primary tool for cutting and delimbing. The other essential pieces of equipment before the switch to cut-to-length were a John Deere 548D grapple skidder and the aforementioned Barko 160A slasher loader.
Casey and Katelyn share a commitment to doing the very best job possible. “[I] do the best job I can, treat every job we do like it’s our property,” said Casey. “I try to work so that it’s beneficial to everyone involved.”
Katelyn amplified the philosophy that guides the couple. “[We] do the best job we can and try to be a blessing to those around us,” she said. “Above all we want to work honest and honor God with our actions.”
Although there can be vexing times, Casey and Katelyn are truly passionate about their profession. “It can be high pressure but I really enjoy what I do,” said Casey. “I love being out in the woods – and getting to work in different areas and on different terrain all the time.”
Katelyn is much newer to logging than her husband. But she is also immersed in the many joys of the profession. “I like the flexibility and freedom it offers us,” she said. “I enjoy doing something a bit out of the ordinary and being able to work with my husband. Being out in the woods is a relaxing environment. There’s nothing like drinking coffee, listening to the radio and forwarding wood on a fall day.”
Katelyn and Casey enjoy travelling when they get some free time. “We enjoyed our first trip to Florida last spring and plan on going back this year,” said Katelyn.
In his free time, Casey also enjoys bowling and hunting. And he and Katelyn both relish spending family time with their young child.
Both Katelyn and Casey have a clear-eyed view of what owning a business requires of them. “We’re a young family and company that’s experienced a lot of growing in a short period of time,” said Katelyn. “We love what we do and have chosen to stick with the industry even when times have been hard. We hope to continue growing and influencing the industry in any small way we can. Logging is our passion and we are grateful God has blessed us and allowed us the success we have experienced.”
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