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TimberWest November/December 2013

March/April 2015

ON THE COVER
The GP grapple processor head by Pierce Pacific allows a single carrier to accomplish tasks that normally tie up two machines.

Making the Cut
Mike Pihl Logging continues to find success with its ‘never give up’ motto

Making a Niche
Pacific Logging and Processing finds a niche providing services for small-scale private landowners, which the company calls “‘permits to planting”

Wood Biomass Column
Oregon Sen. backs woody biomass
for government buildings

Pursuing Innovation
Tolko Industries teams with Oregon Manufacturer to try out GP head are
small volume applications.

Teaching Teachers
Sustainable Forestry Tour
Opens Teachers’ Eyes

Stewards of the Future
Chilkat Logging is Oregon’s only certified logging operation located on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation

Oregon Logging Conference Review
Highlights of the OLC,
including pictorial review

RLC Review
Highlights of the 2015 Redwood
Logging Conference

DEPARTMENTS

In the News

Association News

New Products

Guest Column

 

 

 

 

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Mike Pihl has been running logging operations for over thirty years.Making the Cut

Oregon logging company continues to find success with its ‘never give up’ motto

By Allison McNeal

At the age of 52, Mike Pihl knows a thing or two about the forestry and logging industry. After all, he and twin brother Matt established Pihl Brothers Logging when they were just 22 years old.

“I’m just lucky to be a logger in an area where trees grow in abundance,” he says. “The average person is not meant to be a logger. It’s just in my blood.”

Mike Pihl has been running logging operations for over thirty years.

Although the company grew steadily, the partnership dissolved in 1986, allowing Pihl to start Mike Pihl Logging Inc. His company has continued to expand and has become a family affair yet again. Today, his daughter, Lindsay, is the company’s office manager and her husband, Kelly Baska, is a supervisor in the logging division. The company is based in Vernonia, Ore., northwest of Portland, near Forest Grove State Forest and Clatsop State Forest.

The Doosan Decision

Employees of Mike Pihl Logging log nearly 25 loads of Douglas fir each day, with 10 of those loads staying in the U.S. and the remainder exported to Japan, China, and Korea. To stay ahead of demand, Pihl purchased his first Doosan machine—a DX300LL-3 log loader with log grapple attachment—from Robert Payton of Feenaughty Machinery Company to add to his lineup of machinery, including include Link-Belt, Cat, and Prentice, among others.

“The machine has great fuel efficiency and is just a good, solid machine,” Pihl says. “Plus Feenaughty and Robert Payton are just amazing to work with. Without him I wouldn’t have purchased the Doosan log loader.”

the Doosan DX300LL-3Mike Pihl added the Doosan DX300LL-3 to the lineup because he wanted something “fuel efficient, fast, and innovative.”

According to Pihl, the DX300LL-3 log loader’s durable undercarriage, spacious forestry cab, precise boom geometry, and impressive lifting ability are just some of the qualities he was looking for to help log 20 acres each year. Plus, with a 213-horsepower interim Tier 4-compliant engine, his decision to purchase the Doosan log loader three months ago has become one of his best-thought-out business decisions, and Pihl hasn’t looked back since.

“I wanted something that was fuel efficient, fast, and innovative,” he says. “The Doosan log loader had all of those qualities. It really takes a special machine to be a great log loader.”

Staying Comfortable

Pihl’s operators work approximately 11 hours a day, five days a week, so a comfortable, quiet cab and an adjustable suspension seat were important factors when deciding on a new log loader. Once his operators started using the Doosan log loader and grapple, Pihl knew he made the right decision.

“One of my operators was a bit skeptical about the Doosan machine after working with a competitor’s machine for so many years,” he says. “However, after he tried it out, he was pleased with how it performed and how comfortable it was. Our operators have a heated seat, rearview camera, MP3 player—basically all the amenities they need.”

Mike Pihl Logging Inc.While other local logging companies went out of business during the recession, Pihl was able to handle the downtown by restructuring staff and changing his some of his processes.

Pushing Past Challenges

Although the town of Vernonia (population 2,158) is known for being a logging community, Mike Pihl Logging is one of only three logging companies left in the area. Two other larger companies went out of business after the economic downturn, Pihl stated, but his company survived.

Pihl’s company also took a hit during the downturn, downsizing their staff and fleet.

“We had to look at some things and restructure our staff and thought process,” Pihl says. “I started thinking more about things in advance. Most importantly, I knew I needed to continue to keep my 25 employees happy. I treat them better than I do myself. If they want a new machine, I try my best to satisfy their request.”

The company has since thrived, mainly due to Pihl’s business motto: Never give up.

“Things can change in a heartbeat,” he says. “Things can be going well and then the economy drops, and you are flat on your face. I really try to tell my employees to work hard, to be honest, and to never give up on anything they set their mind to.”

Pictured here is a DX225LL with a Log Max head.Pictured here is a DX225LL with a Log Max head.

Expanding His Fleet

Due to the exceptional performance and feedback from his operators on the DX300LL-3, Pihl is looking to add another Doosan log loader to his fleet after winter.

“I really don’t like having a mismatched fleet, so it’s a definite possibility that we could purchase all Doosan machines,” Pihl said. “We are just starting a relationship with Doosan, and so far, it has been really great.”


ContractorProfile

Mike Pihl’s name might ring a bell to those who watch History Channel’s “Ax Men” — a reality TV show that follows loggers throughout the U.S. and shows how they perform day-to-day functions. Pihl and his crew, including his son-in-law, were featured on seasons 1 through 3. His company was also sporadically featured on seasons 4 and 5.

Pihl said being on the show was a great promotion for him and his company.

“To me it showed the viewers that there are still people in America that get up early in the morning, produce a commodity, and make the world turn,” he says. “It’s important for people to know where they get their wood product from.”

Since “Ax Men,” Pihl has traveled throughout the U.S., giving speeches on his experience and what it takes to be a professional logger.

“The show was a great benefit to me, because it shows how hard our employees and machines work,” he says. “We are dedicated to what we do.”