By Jim Stirling
Shane Garner credits building and maintaining business relationships on all levels as the key to driving forward his log harvesting contracting company.
The right people, the right equipment and the right support.
“That’s what makes it work,” asserts Garner, principal of Hartwood Holdings Ltd., based in Prince George, British Columbia. And it’s an assertion that is put into practice many times each working day and in an equal number of diverse ways.
The right equipment for Hartwood Holdings is manufactured by John Deere and supplied and serviced through Deere dealer Brandt Tractor.
“They are an integral part of our company,” declares Garner.
All but two of the company’s log production fleet are John Deere machines supplied through Brandt.
“Our 15 staff are also of the utmost importance,” he emphasized. “It wouldn’t work without them. They’re very dedicated.”
Hartwood’s other support network is diverse and includes key relationships with licencees like West Fraser Mills in Quesnel, Lakewood Mills in Prince George and a host of suppliers of ancillary goods and services.
Hartwood Holdings has evolved into a full phase logging contractor in the complete sense of the term. The company bids on and buys its wood through BC Timber Sales or from private wood owners. It provides complete logging services on its acquired sites, harvesting in the ballpark of 300,000 cubic metres annually for sawmill clients like West Fraser.
Hartwood doesn’t have a wood quota per se with any single licencee. A recent agreement made with Lakeland Mills is on a block by block as-required basis, points out Garner. And, as of spring 2016, Hartwood has diversified further and is involved in a specialty manufacturing and bioenergy venture.
It’s all a far cry from Garner’s first job in the forest industry as a 17-year-old kid in Quesnel, doing what he was told and learning the ropes. There have been many steps along the way since, of course, working for large and small forest companies before moving into a partnership and then into sole proprietorship. Each one of those steps has contributed its experience and perspective that today collectively assist Hartwood Holdings to progress.
The company has been acquiring its own wood since its formation about six years ago. Hartwood uses WoodX, a BC Timber Sales tracking system that helps member users with bidding and sales management strategies.
Garner says Hartwood Holdings has managed its fibre acquisitions and scheduling activities to keep its people and equipment working steadily. “It comes back to maintaining relationships,” he says by way of explanation.
The John Deere/Brandt Tractor relationship is reflected at Hartwood Holdings through two 853M feller bunchers and two 748H skidders. The three Deere 2154D’s with Waratah 622B heads handle the wood processing at roadside. In the spring of 2016, Hartwood Holdings took possession of its newest piece of equipment, a 2154D processor, which happened to be the 4,000th machine produced by forestry equipment manufacturer Deere-Hitachi Specialty Products of Langley, B.C.
The balance of Hartwood’s primary log harvesting equipment includes two Deere 2454 butt ‘n tops; a 2154 roadbuilding excavator; a 772G grader and a 320 skid-steer. Hartwood also keeps busy two Cat bulldozers, a D6D and a D7R.
Hartwood Holdings builds up to 60 kilometres of road annually to access and support its log harvesting activities.
In the last year-and-a-half, the company has moved into the log hauling business. It now runs three Kenworth logging trucks, each similarly rigged for moving an average volume of 62 metres short, cut to length logs.
“At times in the past we couldn’t get logging trucks when we needed them,” explains Garner. “Having company-owned trucks means a steadier flow of logs and that means a steadier cash flow.”
Homogenous trucking equipment—like the John Deere/Brandt Tractor connection on the harvesting side—simplifies, parts, service and stocking issues, he notes.
Garner believes in maintaining an up to date fleet of equipment. He replaces most of his primary production John Deere machines every couple of years. “It helps with increased uptime and to attract and retain good people. And with most of our work being within the Prince George Forest District, our employees are home with their families every night.”
Hartwood Holdings’ venture into the remanufacturing/bioenergy sector represents a natural progression in wood fibre utilization. More than three-quarters of the company’s harvested wood volumes goes to primary sawmills for commodity lumber production. That’s despite the continuing high percentages of pine killed by the B.C. Interior’s beetle epidemic.
Producing sawlogs from the material, however, creates increased volumes of unused wood fibre. But within those volumes lies opportunity. Lower grade sawlogs and pulp material harvested by Hartwood are now sorted and taken to the Northern Interior Fibre Group’s mill in Prince George.
The Northern Interior operation replaces an older mill on the site. Now the low grade and pulp material is run through the upgraded mill to produce a range of marketable wood products. The unused hog and chips go on to support Pacific Bio Energy’s nearby wood pellet fuel processing facility. Hartwood also manages the new mill’s log yard which includes unloading logging trucks. “This agreement represents a way in which we can use all our fibre,” summarizes Garner. “It’s economically and morally the right thing to do. It’s wood fibre material that would otherwise end up being burned.”
Garner also finds the time to be involved in log harvesting association work in B.C. He’s been a director of the BC Timber Sales Advisory Council for about 10 years. The advisory council is comprised of forest industry and government representatives which meets biannually to review BC Timber Sales’ procedures and policies.
“I find membership very useful and informative,” reports Garner. “It keeps you up to date on what’s affecting the sector on a variety of fronts.”
Additionally, Garner is a director of the Vernon, B.C.-based Interior Logging Association and represents the group on the BC Timber Sales Advisory Council.
Garner seems to thrive on the hectic schedule required to keep Hartwood Holdings humming along. The stack of ‘to do’ reminders on his truck’s dashboard seems to regenerate itself from within. So when the occasion arises, Garner welcomes the chance to climb up into the comfortable operator’s cab of one of his John Deere harvesting machines to become a logger again.
“I find it relaxing,” he smiles.”Operating a machine is a de-stresser for me.
Late last year, forestry equipment manufacturer Deere-Hitachi Specialty Products of Langley, B.C. celebrated its 4,000 machine produced, a 2154D processor equipped with a Waratah HTH 622 B head that was purchased by B.C. logger Shane Garner, of Hartwood Holdings Ltd. Hartwood is a customer of Brandt Tractor Ltd.
The more than 100 employees of Deere-Hitachi Specialty Products celebrated the 4,000th machine, along with Shane Garner and representatives of Brandt Tractor. The company is a joint venture between John Deere and Hitachi and manufactures purpose-built equipment for the forest industry.
On the Cover:
The Weyerhaeuser sawmill in Princeton, B.C. has added two new Volvo wheel loaders, a Volvo L350F and a Volvo L150H, from B.C. Volvo dealer Great West Equipment to help manage log operations. Read about how the equipment is helping make the operation more efficient beginning on page 10. (Photo by Paul MacDonald).
Tapping into the growing bio-economy at Alberta’s Bio-Mile
A new $11 million Clean Energy Technology Centre recently opened in Alberta and among its goals is supporting greater product diversification within the forestry sector, and encouraging more participation by the industry in the bio-economy.
Volvos delivering volume
Some new Volvo wheel loaders are helping the Weyerhaeuser sawmill in Princeton, B.C. deliver efficiencies in the millyard, in feeding logs into the high production, two-line sawmill, and handling chips and hog fuel.
“Big Data” already being utilized by forest industry
Although “Big Data” has become a buzz term in business circles in recent years, the forest industry is already well on its way to using Big Data in a number of areas, from machine centres at the sawmill, to woodlands operations.
Hard work = successful sawmill
Though it requires a lot of hard work, Alberta sawmiller Colin Ruxton says that small sawmilling can pay off—and he’s proven it with both a band and circular sawmill.
Going from logger—to lumber producer
New Brunswick’s Pierre Friolet has used skills developed as a logging contractor to set up an added-value operation that produces thermally modified wood, finding customers from architects to guitar makers for the unique wood product.
Lean log handling
B.C.’s coastal forest industry and the provincial government are working on streamlining the log handling process through making changes based on the “Lean” philosophy that is practiced in other industries—and it’s already showing results.
Family fencing operation
B.C. specialty mill operation Nagaard Sawmill, run by brothers Darrol and Dale Nagel, has found its niche—and it’s in producing fence components from western red cedar for a growing market, with a mill that features a fair bit of home-made equipment, and lots of ingenuity.
Liking the Log Max/Doosan combo
New Brunswick harvesting contractor Remi Doucet is a fan of the Doosan/Log Max harvesting combination, and recently upgraded his equipment with a new Log Max 7000 head.
BUILDER of business relationships
B.C. logger Shane Garner says a successful harvesting contracting operation is all about business relationships, from his employees to his John Deere-heavy logging equipment fleet.
A life in logging: from horses—to Tigercats
Long time logger Alan Costain may have started with yarding horses, but these days the horsepower in Costain Lumbering is of a very different sort, with equipment such as a Tigercat 822.
The frontier community of Colville Lake, 50 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories, has acquired a new portable sawmill which will produce building materials to help address the community’s need for improved housing.
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 and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.
The Last Word
The Fort McMurray fire of earlier this year could have ripple effect on the cost of insurance for the forest industry, says Jim Stirling.