By Paul MacDonald
The logging “bug” hit Dillon Lind at a young age. Before he was even in his teen years, he was helping out at his father’s log chipping operation in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.
Logging comes naturally to the 24-year-old; he’s a fourth generation logger, with cousins in the Lind family also doing logging, in the Princeton area, just east of the Cascade Mountains, in the B.C. Interior.
As for Dillon, he and his father, Dave, work around the Fraser Valley area, east of Vancouver, doing stump to dump logging with their company, D. Lind Contracting. Dave started the company in 1988, and still operates logging equipment. Dillon, who has operated a lot of equipment in the past, takes care of business matters for the company these days.
“I always liked running equipment—even when I was in high school,” says Dillon, who helped out on his father’s operation on weekends, and during school breaks. “At the time, I wasn’t sure I’d get into it full time—it can be such an up and down business. But when I got into it, I really enjoyed it and I see it being a good career.”
Dillon joined the company in 2010, after graduating from high school. Along the way, he got his C ticket in welding, which has proved very handy at times with the equipment. “That worked well—it went hand-in-hand with what I wanted to do.”
Dillon still does some welding on equipment from time to time, and he enjoys getting in the cab, but there isn’t the time to run equipment full time these days. “There are days when I miss it—especially when my cell phone does not stop ringing,” he jokes.
Through the years, Dave Lind had done mostly sub-contracting, and phase work. In the last three years, though, they have moved into being a stump to dump contractor—pretty much doing it all, complete with a log sort in Mission, on the Fraser River.
Being stump to dump has allowed them to ramp up the logging operation, and take on larger logging jobs, such as BC Timber work, for forest company Teal Jones Group and for log broker, National Forest Products. “The BC Timber work started the process into going full phase, and then we bid on a couple of jobs, and that continued the work to being a prime contractor,” says Dillon.
“The big challenge before was keeping our equipment working,” he explained. “You might have one or two machines working, but it’s hard to keep all your equipment working when you are subcontracting to other companies.
“In working for somebody else, they have their own equipment, so they might only need you to do one part of the work, and they’ll do the rest.”
It’s really about being able to achieve maximum equipment utilization—getting the most out of the iron you have because whether it is working or not, the monthly payments are still there.
In moving to being a full phase contractor, Dave Lind’s more than 40 years of experience in logging was especially valuable. “My Dad really knows the logging side of the business.” Most of the time, Dave is running a processor out in the bush. “He can run anything out in the bush. He’s on the block every day, and looks after the day-to-day things out in the bush. And because we usually have two sides going, we also have a foreman who runs a machine on the other side.”
Dillon handles the business side, negotiating and bidding on contracts.
“The business side of it was a challenge, but I’m really liking it, and managing things,” he says. “It’s been a big learning curve, but it’s been fun.”
They’ve had some jobs that did not work as well as they thought, but that, says Dillon, is part and parcel of the logging business. “There have been a few mistakes, and there will be probably a few more.” But, he agrees that if you’re not making mistakes, well, you’re probably not taking on enough challenges. The key is not to make the same mistake twice—and to learn from your mistakes.
“We’re a lot more comfortable about running a bigger operation now. But things are very busy, to say the least.”
The operation is truly a family business, with Dillon’s sister, Mattea, doing the books, and brother, Dale, operating equipment.
Ramping things up for D. Lind Contracting has meant more equipment—a lot more equipment.
Recent additions to the operation include a Tigercat 870C buncher and a Tigercat 630E skidder, from B.C. equipment dealer, The Inland Group (formerly Parker Pacific). They also purchased a new Link-Belt 290 carrier, also from The Inland Group, which is equipped with a LogMax 10000 head. Their most recent equipment addition was a Link-Belt 4040 log loader, also from The Inland Group.
They also have a Cat 325 and a Cat 320, both equipped with LogMax 7000 heads. They bought a Volvo 3329 road builder and a Volvo 2924 log loader, from B.C. Volvo dealer, Great West Equipment.
“We bought a lot of equipment over a short period,” says Dillon. “We’ve probably quadrupled the business we do in the last four years, and have gone from having three machines to about a dozen pieces now. It was hard to keep a handle on it at first, but it’s fine now.”
Filling out the equipment line-up are a Cat 545 skidder, a Komatsu 500 wheel loader, two older gravel trucks, and a Madill 071 yarder.
They also have some sub-contractors working for them, mostly on the trucking side. They have one Kenworth logging truck, and Dillon would like to grow that somewhat, to three or four trucks. “We bought one truck to see how it went,” he says. “We’re going to focus on that part of business a bit more.”
Dillon reports the Tigercat 870C buncher is working out really well for them, and he likes the fact that Tigercat equipment is purpose-built. “We’re working a lot with Inland, both with the Tigercat equipment and the new Link-Belt we have, and the product support and service support is great. And in terms of pricing and financing, they are very competitive.
“We get excellent service,” adds Dillon. Their sales guy, Dan Meester, is very involved with what they are doing, and interested in how the equipment is working for them, he added. “Dan is just as involved as the service guys are. The whole Inland outfit seems like that—they stay involved with you after you’ve made the equipment purchase.”
The 870C is a good fit for the mostly second-growth wood that D. Lind Contracting is working in, in B.C. Equipped with a Cummins QSL9 Tier 3 engine rated 300 hp @ 1800 rpm, the 870C is said to excel in tough and rocky terrain, with high cycle felling in large timber. With long track frames, a wide stance carboy and super duty leveling components, the FH400 undercarriage is very stable. This provides rock-solid stability and poise on steep slopes—and they are seeing more steep slopes in B.C. these days.
Among its features are Tigercat’s ER boom technology for improved fuel efficiency and that also reduces operator fatigue and increases productivity, dedicated pumps for both saw and clamp arms for fast cycles and saw recovery, and a clamshell-style roof enclosure with swing-out doors on both sides for good access to major components and daily service points.
“We’ve had it about six months now, and we’re very happy with the 870C buncher,” says Dillon. “And we’re happy with the 630E skidder, which we’ve had for about a year. We like the Tigercat products.”
The LogMax 10000 head is fairly new to the operation, but it’s been working out well, which is no surprise, considering the experience they’ve had with LogMax. “We’ve been with LogMax since day one,” says Dillon.
“We like and know their heads. LogMax may not be a huge company, but we’re comfortable with them. We can contact them anytime, and they will walk us through a problem. Their service is second to none.”
They like that even though the LogMax 7000 heads are rated to handle 22” timber, they can do up to 28” timber. Generally, they work in timber sizes of about 20”, but some wood is as big as 30” to 36” in the second growth timber they harvest. Their piece size averages about two cubic metres, and Dillon says it’s not uncommon for an operator to process 600 to 1,000 cubic metres a day. “We still get down to some chip ‘n saw size wood, six to eight inch, too,” adds Dillon.
While the focus lately has been on purchasing new equipment, Dillon notes his Dad has bought some used equipment in the past, such as the Cat 325 they have now. But finding good used equipment has become a challenge.
“It seems like that it is brand new, with a price to match, or they have 10,000 hours on them. It’s tough to find a used machine, with about 3,000 hours on it. Especially now that the market is better. When things crashed back in 2008, there were all kinds of good equipment deals out there.”
D. Lind Contracting has its own shop, on its sort at Mission, and they have two heavy duty mechanics on contract that they keep fairly busy. “We get the dealers to do the warranty work, but we do the rest in our shop.”
They have an older service truck that stays on the block, equipped with welding equipment. “I still do some welding from time to time,” says Dillon. “The same with running the machines. I love to get on the machines, if we have a guy out that day. I just don’t have enough time to do it anymore, though.”
All this equipment requires operators, of course, and that took some time. “Finding good operators was one of our first big challenges when we were buying the new equipment,” explained Dillon. “It’s taken quite a bit of time, but we feel we have one of the best crews out there right now. Good people are hard to find. You can have all the equipment in the world, but if you don’t have good operators, you’re kind of sunk.” The operation has 20 employees.
Going forward, the shortage of experienced operators is generally expected to ease a bit for the B.C. forest industry. The industry is seeing more people returning to B.C. from Alberta, with the drop in oil prices and activity there. The fire that hit Fort McMurray is also having an impact on operations around there, and resulting in job losses, at least on a temporary basis.
“We just hired a guy who had been laid off in the oil patch, as a processor operator, and he’s working out pretty well.” Dillon added that this person previously worked as a processor operator, before heading to Alberta.
Dave, Dillon, and the company’s employees, are working hard these days on finding the most effective way to work with their Madill 071 mini tower, which is their first venture into yarding. “Our main focus is on ground-based logging, and we’re working to learn the yarding part of the business. It’s tough because it’s low production vs. ground based logging. The Madill is an older machine, but it’s been fixed up.”
Essentially, Dillon says, they are getting their feet wet with the Madill yarder—he sees them eventually purchasing a grapple yarder, especially considering the steep slopes that the B.C. industry is having to take on. “Every block now usually has a bit of cable logging—there are more and more steep slopes where we are working.”
Steep slope logging is certainly the talk of the business in B.C. with Logging and Sawmilling Journal’s Steep Slope Logging Conference, held in March, and it being the theme of the Truck Loggers Association convention in January. It will also be getting attention at the DEMO 2016 logging show, being held in Maple Ridge, B.C. in September.
“We’re looking at the winch assisted equipment on steep slopes, but we’re not sure how it would work for us,” says Dillon. “It’s a big investment.”
Rather than being one of the first guys to try out winch-assist equipment, they’d rather wait, and see it become more established and proven, says Dillon.
“Regardless, that is the way the industry is going, and we’re going to need to get into it, and adapt and try new ways of doing the work.”
One of the more recent logging jobs for the company is a camp situation at the head of Pitt Lake. And there is a bit of a feeling of déjà vu there. “We’ve subbed a bit up there before,” says Dillon. “But we have never been the prime contractor up there. It was a big step, but so far it’s working out.”
There are definitely benefits to being bigger, and to having scale, says Dillon. “Before, we were constantly looking for work, and bidding on jobs. Now that we’re bigger, more of the work is now coming to us. That also has to do with the market now, which is pretty hot.
“We can now take on bigger contracts. With 100,000 cubic metres, before that was a year or two year’s work—and now it’s six months’ work for us.”
They have a larger contract they will be starting up, likely this fall, around Hope, B.C. It’s a Non-Replaceable Forest Licence for National Forest Products, so it will allow the company to lay out its own blocks, which Dillon is looking forward to being involved with.
“We have an engineer, but I’d like to be involved with this project, overseeing how the blocks are laid out, and seeing what works best for us.”
Larger contracts often mean fewer equipment moves, but Dillon says they still move a fair bit. “We may be working one big area, but there can be lots of little blocks, and we are chasing work in the lower elevations, so there can still be a lot of moves within one area.
“Sometimes we are moving a lot, and sometimes we get some fair-sized blocks. A good sized block would be 10,000 cubic metres, and 15,000 cubic metres would be really good in some areas. But our blocks are mostly in the 5,000 to 10,000 cubic metre range, on average.”
Going forward, Dillon and David Lind are going to focus on keeping the equipment they have now busy, rather than getting bigger.
“We’ve got some solid contracts ahead of us, which has given us a comfort zone—we’ve never had that before,” says Dillon. “I don’t think we’re going to grow a whole lot more, except to get into the trucking a bit more.”
Dillon says he’s thankful to have been able to help his Dad ramp up the operation. And for the solid business foundation his Dad built, since starting up in 1988, and that he toughed it out during the recent downturn. “If it was a new company it would have been way more of a struggle. It made a big difference in being able to grow the company.”
On the Cover:
Everything is in place for the largest live logging equipment show in North America this year—DEMO 2016, to be held at the UBC Research Forest near Vancouver from September 22-24—and the package is impressive. Read all about DEMO beginning on page 38 of this issue.
IS MEXICO RIPE FOR THE PICKING—for Canadian softwood lumber producers?
It was smiles all around at the recent “Three Amigos” Summit in Ottawa, hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with guests President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. But the summit has now got some in the industry wondering how they can expand lumber exports to Mexico.
Logging safety net
A decision by Alberta’s Barmac Contracting to diversify, and be involved in logging, is now paying off and proving to be a solid safety net, with the dramatic drop in activity in the oilpatch.
Ramping it up
Fraser Valley contractor D. Lind Logging has ramped up its equipment line-up considerably in recent years and the family operation is now a full-on stump-to-dump contractor, and able to take on more volume.
Getting back into logging
Having built a successful gravel business, B.C.’s Lincoln Douglas decided to re-enter logging six years ago, doing work in southwestern B.C., and is now looking to get into the value-added sector with a small sawmilling operation.
LSJ Show Guide --DEMO 2016
Full details on the largest logging equipment show this year: DEMO 2016, being held in Maple Ridge, B.C., including a list of exhibitors, schedule of events, site map.
Technology in the woods
With everything from IPads to drones and custom Apps, technology is hitting the woods, and it’s making pretty much everything more efficient—and safer, too.
SOLID SAFETY commitment
West Fraser Timber has a from the top down commitment to safety, which is reflected in the solid safety strategies employed at one of its operations in the B.C. Interior, its Pacific Inland Resources division.
Steep slope logging, European-style
Ponsse dealer ALPA Equipment recently demo’ed some European steep slope logging equipment to two of New Brunswick’s largest forestry operators, to help meet the growing interest in what’s available in steep slope logging technology.
Scaling back log scaling costs
Interfor’s Acorn sawmill in Surrey, B.C. now has the first government certified legal-for-trade log scanner in North America, and it’s reducing scaling costs while providing more accurate log measurements.
Future forests resilient to climate change?
A forestry trial in the B.C. Interior could very well provide some clues into what future forests could look like, in the wake of the mountain pine beetle—and those forests could have increased resilience to climate change.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions and FPInnovations.