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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

May 2015

On the Cover:
B.C.’s Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers Ltd has hauled a lot of different materials in its decades of operation—but the company has now expanded its operations to hauling logs in the B.C. Interior, and it is working for several forest companies operating in the region. Watch for the story on Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers in the next issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal (Photo courtesy of Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers).

Prince George: a century
of sawmilling

The City of Prince George—home to the Canada North Resources Expo—is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2015, and it has a rich sawmilling heritage over that century.

Seizing the moment —in logging
Log Commander Enterprises, owned by the Webster Brothers—Ryan and Curtis—of Quesnel, B.C. has chosen to seize the moment in the logging upturn, expanding their fleet of logging equipment by a factor of four in the last 18 months.

Back to the future—with phase logging
Forest company Tolko Industries is revisiting the past with its Innovative Phase Logging program in the B.C. Interior, and it is delivering detailed—and valuable—information on logging equipment performance and production.

Recipe for recovery
A major planer upgrade at Tolko’s Soda Creek Division stud mill operation in Williams Lake, B.C. is going to help expand its range of products and improve grades and recovery at the mill, a solid recipe for improved competitiveness.

The latest in logging tools
Northeastern B.C. logging company Hi-Sky Enterprises has introduced some new Komatsu machines into its logging equipment line-up to provide their employees with the latest in logging tools, and make sure they are able to keep moving wood efficiently to meet the needs of their customer, lumber giant Canfor.

Going full tilt
New logging operation Full Tilt Contracting is looking forward to doing exactly that—going full tilt—in the not too distant future, helped along by solid logging equipment and an experienced crew.

Cranking out the lumber at Idaho Forest Group
Attendees at the recent Small Log Conference got a first-hand look at Idaho Forest Group’s new Lewiston, Idaho upgrade and its focus on a HewSaw SL250 3.4 installation that is already cranking out six million board feet a week—with room for more production.

Energy—but with a green footprint
A new wood-fired district energy system in the B.C. Interior is delivering multiple benefits, including solving the issue of residue disposal from a local sawmill using a Bandit 1390 XP 15 inch drum chipper, and in the process delivering energy that has a greener footprint.

Taking charge on the marketing side
Having had success manufacturing and marketing red pine product, Ontario’s Heideman sawmill recently made some acquisitions, and has now taken charge of marketing its finished white pine product.

The EDGE

CLICK HERE for the Canada North Resources Expo Showguide

DEPARTMENTS

Tech Update: Skidders

Supplier newsline

The Last Word

 

 CLICK to download a pdf of this article

Log Commander Enterprises

Seizing the moment

Log Commander Enterprises, owned by the Webster Brothers—Ryan and Curtis—of Quesnel, B.C. has chosen to seize the moment in the logging upturn, expanding their fleet of logging equipment by a factor of four in the last 18 months.

By Jim Stirling

Curtis Webster (left) and brother Ryan of Log Commander EnterprisesTiming is everything.

It’s a well worn cliché for a reason. Look back at the growth and development of any business and at least a couple of occasions will stand out when taking a decisive action changed the fortune and direction of that business. Sometimes dramatically for the better but not always. Lessons need to be learned along the way. It’s one reason why making the right decisions at the right time can be key to business success.

Curtis Webster (left) and brother Ryan of Log Commander Enterprises go over some maps during a busy day in the woods. Curtis and Ryan aren’t newcomers to the bush and logging—the forest industry is in their genes. Their father, Joe, has carved a career in the forest industry, and the two brothers grew up around harvesting equipment.

The young captains of Log Commander Enterprises seized their opportunity. They boldly expanded their fleet of log harvesting equipment by a factor of four during an 18 month period. Acquiring four major pieces of forest harvesting equipment in relatively short order is one thing, but successfully accommodating the responsibilities accompanying that decision represents a challenge for any logging contractor.

Ryan and Curtis Webster were relative newcomers to the log contracting ranks. They had just two machines—a John Deere 690 loader and a Cat D6—before re-writing their business prospects with the acquisition of two late model feller bunchers and two skidders.

Log Commander EnterprisesBut Ryan, 31, and Curtis, 23, had a couple of factors in their favour. They aren’t newcomers to the bush and logging. In fact, the forest industry is in their genes. Their father, Joe, has carved a career in the forest industry. He’s currently manager of phase logging operations for Tolko Industries Ltd’s Cariboo woodlands based at Williams Lake in the B.C. Interior.

Ryan and Curtis were both regular bush rats growing up in the forest and being around harvesting equipment. They began doing the often tedious fetch and carry chores before earning their respective opportunities to learn how to correctly operate logging equipment under real conditions. The long, long hours, the glories of Cariboo weather and the plain hard work didn’t deter either of them from looking to logging for their future. “I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” says Curtis Webster, matter-of-factly.

Log Commander Enterprises is currently working west of Quesnel and is a participant in Tolko’s Innovative Phase Logging program. The program is a way to attract new entrants to log contracting and providing an opportunity for them to acquire quality log harvesting equipment with which to work.

The first new addition to Log Commander Enterprises’ equipment fleet was a Tigercat 635 six wheel drive skidder with about 100 hours on the clock, recalls Ryan Webster. It was followed by a Tigercat 845 feller buncher and a Deere 903J feller buncher. The fourth piece of new logging equipment in the approximately 18 month time span was a Cat 535C skidder. “It was more of a spur of the moment thing,” concedes Webster, “But the price was too good a deal to turn down.” The skidder had about 40 hours on it and had been used as a demo machine.

Webster’s assessment seems justified. The Cat has been purring along productively for Log Commander since its acquisition.

Log Commander EnterprisesPerhaps the biggest challenge for Log Commander has been finding the right people for the right seats to operate their equipment. “There’s a big difference between running equipment and operating it,” observes Curtis Webster wryly. They’ve had their issues but now have a good crew working together cooperatively, with a mix of ages and experience.

The company’s new equipment brings with it significant responsibility.

“At the end of the month, there’s a big number to be covered. If we’re behind, me and Curtis have to put in the hours to make it up,” says Webster. “We’re fortunate because we have control over bunching and skidding phases. But the processing contractor follows us and he has to make his numbers at the end of the month, too. It’s about cooperating and understanding the other guys’ issues.”

Perhaps the biggest problem for Log Commander has been finding the right people for the right seats to operate the recently acquired equipment. “There’s a big difference between running equipment and operating it,” observes Curtis Webster wryly. They’ve had their issues but now have a good crew working together cooperatively, agree the Websters, with a mix of ages and experience. Little things can contribute to improved efficiency. Curtis Webster cites informal crew meetings around shift change time. Apart from keeping everyone up to date with what’s going on, the sessions provide the opportunity to defuse any misunderstandings or issues. “We all get along pretty well.”

Ryan Webster has learned his own lessons along the way about improving relations amongst a work crew. “I know what it’s like to be screamed at,” he recalls. “I told myself I wouldn’t treat people that way if I was running an operation,” he added. His experience running a range of equipment comes in handy with Log Commander’s harvesting operation. He refers to the time he was operating a large mechanical shovel at an Alberta mining operation when the machine quit on him. “The heat’s on you,” he states. He says the operation was losing $20,000 an hour because of the downed machine and about a dozen other guys were standing around unable to do their jobs without the shovel. Maybe that’s a further reason why preventative maintenance on the company’s logging equipment rates highly, to try and avoid such eventualities.”These machines are our bread and butter.”

The operators are responsible for routine end of shift refueling, greasing and a machine overlook. The brothers go over the equipment “from one end to the other” to help troubleshoot any looming issues. “It’s not foolproof but it helps,” he says. “But at the risk of repeating myself, it all comes down to who’s in the operator seat, if they’re operating the machine in the right way and looking after it.”

When Logging & Sawmilling Journal visited recently, the weather was a good month ahead of seasonal norms. Controlling run-off and sub grade melt while trying to maintain and preserve a running surface for logging traffic was a time consuming challenge. Fortunately, Log Commander’s operation was subsequently switched to a more conducive site in another part of the upper Deserter’s Creek drainage, about 45 kilometres west of Quesnel. The brothers hoped that would give them some additional valuable time to work prior to break up.

With the new equipment settling in to regular production mode, the task now for Log Commander Enterprises is more one of accommodation and consolidation than any immediate further growth. “We want to concentrate on building our company and its reputation,” summarizes Curtis, the younger Webster brother.