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Wisconsin Logger Has Eye on Efficiency

New TimberPro 820 TF cut-to-length Machine is a harvester and forwarder in one

By Jack Petree
Date Posted: 9/1/2003


HAYWARD, Wis. — When Pat Crawford sold Timbco to Partek Forest International at the turn of the century, he retained an option to buy back the wheeled division within two years. In July of 2002, as Pat turned 77, he exercised his option and established a new enterprise.

Naming his new company TimberPro, Pat set out to manufacture harvesting equipment, focusing on wheeled harvesters and forwarders and other wheeled logging machines.

Rich Good, owner of Rich Good Logging, turned to Pat’s new company for an innovative new cut-to-length logging machine, the TimberPro 820 TF harvester. The new eight-wheel machine performs both functions of a cut-to-length harvester and a cut-to-length forwarder.

The TimberPro machine has made a significant contribution to his ability to increase production and remain competitive in the stormy economic climate, said Rich.

Rich started his business in 1986, equipped with nothing more than a pick-up tuck and two chain saws. From the beginning he has focused on optimizing efficiency. His strong focus on efficiency
has enabled his company to grow through challenging years for the forest products
industry.

Rich spent his early years working to improve his conventional harvesting efforts. By 1991 the business had grown enough to enter into mechanized harvesting with a Samsung 130.

Rich continued to upgrade his equipment over the years. Early this year he sold a substantial amount of equipment and invested in the new TimberPro 820 TF harvester, which is equipped with a Valmet 965 processing head. The TimberPro machine works in tandem with a 2000 John Deere 653-G that is matched with a FabTek processing head. Rich’s company also has its own logging trucks — two Kenworths and a Peterbilt.

Efficiency still is the driver behind Rich’s machinery decisions. "I’ve always been one to try new technology," he explained, "not simply because it is new, but because I see a way to make my company more professional and more efficient. I believe if you want to compete in today’s industry, you have to be at the top of your game when it comes to efficiency."

His interest in efficiency even extends to his buying decisions about trailers. Rich recently purchased a new one from Great Lakes Trailer. "It’s the newest trailer Great Lakes puts out," he said. The trailer is made mainly from aluminum and has a 45-foot deep deck.

The new Great Lakes trailer has helped the company improve efficiency in hauling. "I can haul a cord and a half more wood on this trailer than I can on a steel trailer," said Rich. "We’re usually hauling 50-60 miles per trip and making several trips a day. A cord and a half a load, day in and day out, adds up to a substantial amount of additional wood hauled over a year — not including the savings in fuel and wear and tear due to lighter weight on the return trip."

When it comes to improving efficiency using technology to be more effective, the TimberPro 820 TF moves to the front of the class, said Rich. The machine performs the functions of both a harvester and a forwarder. "You don’t have to buy two completely separate machines to get the job done," said Rich.

The versatility of the TimberPro 820 TF is especially important in regions like the Lake States, Rich said. Loggers and their equipment must work in hot, humid conditions in the summer and freezing temperatures and snow in the winter. In addition, there are a variety of soil types that are impacted by the weather.

The timber that Rich works in is as varied as the weather and land conditions. The harvest might range from hardwood species like oak, poplar, white birch and aspen to softwoods, especially pine. Rich supplies both saw logs and pulp logs. Production is about 15-17,000 cords per year.

The Lake States region is so named, of course, because of the presence of the Great Lakes, with Wisconsin bounded in part by Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Wisconsin’s ties to the lakes impact timber harvesting operations, Rich noted. "We very carefully preserve environmental values by closely following the logging plans for the land we harvest using Best Management Practices. The quality of the machinery we’re using is definitely important in doing that. Harvesters and forwarders like those TimberPro has put on the market are very gentle on the land compared to more traditional technologies."

Having the most advanced knowledge of forestry and using cutting edge technology to accomplish a harvest is critical from an environmental standpoint and to
satisfy landowners who want to conserve the forest resources of the residual stand, said Rich.

"The typical landowner we harvest for has 40-plus acres," he said. "About 65 percent are private owners and 35 percent are government owners. We harvest on county, state, and federal land. All the landowners we cut for are concerned about the quality of the harvest. Esthetics is a big thing with them, yet they know they have to do something with their timber. When we’re done you often cannot tell we’ve been into an area aside from the fact that it has been made more attractive. Landowners today insist on that quality. With machines like our TimberPro, we can give it to them."

Rich chose TimberPro because of the combination of technology and toughness in Pat Crawford’s machine. "I’d looked at competitive equipment and could see how it could work very well in some applications," Rich recalled. "In the woods I log, however, it is important that a machine be built strongly enough to stand up to the rigors of the terrain. The technology in Pat’s machines is state-of-the-art, and they are built well. I think this machine will go 25,000 hours easily, and I need that in order to improve my efficiency in getting more wood to the mill in a cost effective way."

In talking about his business, Rich kept returning to efficiency and professionalism. Continually finding ways to improve efficiency is the only way an independent logging contractor like himself can remain independent and profitable, he said. As an example of just how finely tuned Rich Good Logging’s operations are, the company runs two processors and keeps two trucks rolling with Rich and three employees working the harvest.

Loggers used to be respected for what they contributed to American society, but poor harvesting practices and even greed brought the industry into disrepute, Rick said. "If we want to be successful in restoring our image as a profession, taking a positive role in improving the health of our forests while we provide products Americans want and need, we have to prove to the public that we are professionals."

Rich is very active in the Wisconsin Professional Loggers Association and has worked with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, landowners, and the public to improve the logging industry and its public image. "It’s tough to change minds," he said, "but we are committed to doing just that." As part of his personal commitment to professional improvement, Rich is on track to obtain Master Logger certification.

Rich also acknowledged the support of his family — wife Lori and daughter Jordan, 6 — has been important in his business. Lori handles the bookkeeping duties for the company.

While working hard to improve himself and his business, Rich acknowledges that the U.S. forest products industry faces far more critical challenges — chiefly from foreign competition. "I don’t know how we’re going to go about competing globally," said. "We can be the best at what we’re doing here, and it may mean nothing if other nations can bring fiber to market for a fraction of the cost we can. I think that’s something the industry as a whole needs to look at seriously."

Meanwhile, Rich will continue to do what he has always done in his business as he keeps striving to improve efficiency and professionalism. He will work smarter, develop new ways to run his business, provide the best harvest possible for landowners, and use cutting edge technology like TimberPro to supply mill customers with the best logs possible.




 






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