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TimberWest November/December 2013

Sept/October 2014

ON THE COVER
Photo by Diane Mettler: Brintech Logging and the company’s two new machines — a Doosan and Hyundai

Keep on Thinning
Pleines Logging has focused on
thinning for two decades

Good Crew Makes the Company
RDL Northwest Inc. is picky
about its crew and equipment

Running on All Cylinders
While companies were struggling
through the recession Brintech
expanded

Woody Biomass Column
Be Ready with the Message

16 Seconds: The Divider
Winners and losers of the LWC

ScorpionKing Struts
Ponsse shows of the new
ScorpionKing in Rhinelander, Wisc.

Guest Columnist
Preparing Your Forestry Equipment for Winter

DEPARTMENTS

Tech review - Brushcutters & Mulchers

In the News

Association News

Machinery Row

 

 

 

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Jerry Brindle, owner of BrintechRunning on All Cylinders

Brintech Inc. expands while others try to stay afloat

Diane Mettler

The recession hit most everyone pretty hard. But there were a few outfits, like Brintech Inc., out of Mossyrock, Wash., that expanded during that period. It just took a little luck, hard work, and a good head for business.

Always a Dream

Jerry Brindle, owner of Brintech, always knew he was going to be a logger. When he was 17, he bought a little dozer and did some logging. His dad was a shovel logger (and still is) for Weyerhaeuser. “Thompson Timber hired me right out of high school. I ran a processor for him for a little over five years before I got enough money saved up to go buy my own.

“Roger Smith of RL Smith hired me and my processor. He gave me a lot of pointers and helped me get rolling.”

Jerry officially opened his own business in 1999 as a one-man show with one processor. It wasn’t until 2003 that Jerry bought his second machine — a new Kobelco 210 — and hired an employee. Today he employs 27 and owns a fleet of equipment including a brand new Madill 3800C, a Hyundai 330LC-9A, and a Doosan DX300LL.

Brintech Inc.Brintech is a fan of Doosan. They already owned four when they purchased a Doosan DX300LL.

Expanding During a Tough Time

Ironically, while others were struggling to weather the recession, Jerry was getting traction.

“Weyerhaeuser work was drying up, and the company was laying off contractors,” says Jerry. “They pretty much kicked us out the door. So I went and bought a great big 700-acre thinning sale from the DNR during that time.”

Most would have considered the DNR sale a risky step, but Jerry went ahead. Jerry says bidding is always a calculated risk. “Anybody can do math, but there’s a certain amount of straight up guessing that goes into a bid, and you’d better be pretty good at it. If it was all perfect, everybody would have the same number and it’d be easy.”

The DNR sale worked out well for Brintech. Jerry bought it for nothing and then prices started going back up. “That gave me the funds to get going. I hired two more employees and bought a little Cat D4 and another shovel to do the thinning job.”

After the DNR sale, in 2011, Jerry invested in a Thunderbird 225 swing yarder and hired five more to the crew. “Economically, things were still not that great, so we got a pretty decent buy on the yarder,” hesays.

Over the years, Brintech ran used machines, but Jerry says it didn’t pencil out. “We make way more money running new stuff that we’re not working on. The payments may be big, but the machines run every day, your operators are happy, and production is moving.”

Brintech Inc.Jerry Brindle (right) with one of his right hand men, Al Stamper. They stand next to the new Madill 3800C, just one of a number of new equipment purchases in 2014.

Today Brintech tends to run a piece of equipment no more than 10,000 hours before replacing it, in part because at 10,000 hours the equipment still has a good trade-in or resale value. “If you start running them too much longer, you just don’t get anything back out of them.”

The Bulk of the Work

Although Jerry and his crew may occasionally handle a sale for Weyerhaeuser, the company’s main contractors are Hancock and Olympic Resource Management.

“They’ve been really good to work for,” he says. “Whatever they tell you, you can pretty much count on it. Their prices are really fair and competitive. What I like best about them is they keep work in front of us. They give us a year’s worth of work, and it’s all negotiated throughout the year instead of having to go bid a bunch of stuff. So we pretty well know we’ve got work all year long.”

On these jobs, Jerry subcontracts all the cutting. “We yard, process, put on a truck, and take to the mill.”

Some of the trucking is also contracted out. “We easily run about 15 to 20 trucks, says Jerry. “There’s the 2015 Kenworth, which is our low bed, but it switches back and forth to being a long logger. Then we have a 2000 W900 Kenworth long logger, a 2014 T800 Kenworth, and a ’99 Kenworth.”

Brintech Inc.The company runs two towers and says it’s important to find the right job for the right tower.

Credit to the Crew

To date, hiring great guys for his crew hasn’t been a problem (knock on wood), although he admits finding really experienced people is harder. Because of the lack of experience in the rigging, training is required. Clint West, Jerry’s brother-in-law and a hook tender for 18 years, does most of it.

Hook tender Clint and operator Robert Luuers are who Jerry leans on to help manage the sites. “It really helps having a guy like that on site. It makes a big difference,” says Jerry.

Maintaining a good crew also requires being a top notch employer. Brintech supplies good medical and competitive wages. “And then, of course, fairly new equipment always helps to keep your operators around,” says Jerry.

In addition, Jerry feels no company can be too safe. He has been involved in the L&I safety initiative and believes it’s not only the right thing to do, it also makes good financial sense.

“My personal opinion is if you’re not involved in it, you’re probably trying to hide something. Why wouldn’t you do it? They’re giving you a 20 percent cut right off your rates. For an outfit of my size, that’s almost $80,000 a year in savings. How do you say, ‘No, I’m not doing that’?”

Meeting the Challenges of Growth

With growth come challenges. Lately, Brintech’s biggest challenge has been adjusting to the new yarder. Last August Jerry bought a big yarder — a Washington 137 and hired five new employees. “It’s all new to us and the big layouts. It’s been a challenge getting that all working, but we’re getting there.”

Brintech Inc.One of the company’s purchases this year was a Hyundai 330LC-9A. Brindle says, “We make way more money running new stuff that we’re not working on.”

That challenge didn’t keep Jerry from purchasing a few more pieces of equipment from Cascade Trader this year, including a 330 Hyundai with a 623 Waratah head. “The 320 has been around for a long time, but the 330 is the newest one that’s got the Tier 4 motors.” Now that all the bugs are worked out, he’s extremely pleased with how it runs.

Jerry’s other purchase was a Doosan DX300LL. “We have four [Doosans] already, and we really like them. They didn’t have any 300s in at the time, when I needed one, but they had these new and a nice financing package. We like it. It’s a lot heavier duty machine and guarded up a lot better.”

Making this kind of investment takes planning, because the equipment doesn’t pay for itself overnight.

“The amount of money it takes to start a tower side is unbelievable,” explains Jerry. “You have to build a pretty good income before you can invest. You’re not just going to buy a yarder and expect to make it work. It just doesn’t work that way. You have to have all your ducks in a row before you even consider buying a tower.”

Jerry says the average tower costs between $4,500 and $5,000 a day, and with new equipment it takes time just to break even. “It’s hard….until you get the crew gelling together and everything is working right, and you’re finding the right jobs for the right tower.”

These kinds of huge investments would make some nervous. Jerry just smiles. “Before, it used to be a little scary, but now I’m just kind of numb to it.”

Brintech Inc.

A Look ahead

Jerry doesn’t see more new equipment purchases for awhile. Brintech is running one shovel site and two towers and has a 330 Cat (yoder) to move a yarder or to use if a yarder is broken down. “Right now that’s plenty,” says Jerry.

“I’m just proud that we’ve gotten as big as we have and made it through the tough times and are able to just keep expanding while other people were going the other way,” adds Jerry. “Just being able to keep really great people around — that’s the most important thing.”