By Mary Bullwinkel
To say the least, Brian Bewley is extremely proud being part of the family business, Bewley Logging, based in Central Point, Oregon. Brian is partners with his father, Tom, and Uncle John Bewley, who with Brian’s grandfather, Jack Bewley, started Bewley Investments in 1971. Keeping it in the family, Brian’s brother Tony is involved in the logging operations, mainly as a loader operator. And according to Brian, Jose Gomez, who has worked for Bewley Logging for the past decade, is also like part of the family.
Bewley Logging began as a logging and trucking company 45 years ago, and over the years has done jobs for large timber companies and small landowners in both Oregon and California. The equipment they use for logging allows for the versatility of doing both large and small jobs and produces results that lead to other logging jobs.
Reputation and Results
Today with a crew of eight to 10 people, Bewley Logging does most of its work in Oregon, and according to Brian the reputation of the family-owned business speaks for itself. “I like to think that we don’t need a business card … just go out and look at our jobs,” Bewley says. “It may be presumptuous, but ours always look better than everybody else’s. Of course,” he adds with a chuckle, “that’s just my biased opinion.”
Bewley approaches each job with the philosophy that “people hire us for a result, not a service.” He says that leads to being hired to do harder and more complicated jobs, that in some cases no one else wants to do.
Yarders to Bulldozers
Bewley Logging has used a late-1970s model Skagit GT3 yarder for the past 15 years. “It’s a pretty good all-around yarder,” Brian Bewley says. “We can thin with the yarder, we can compete on clearcuts with the yarder… and we run it standing skyline most of the time with a Boman 9100 sky car on it.”
The company also uses an Eagle carriage with the yarder, depending on the terrain of the logging job. Bewley says the Eagle carriage is an “outstanding machine,” and he also spoke highly of the Boman carriage.
“I love that thing,” he says of the yarder. “It’s a pretty versatile machine … not too big to put on a government thin, and it’s big enough to go onto a clearcut for a commercial timber company.” He says the Skagit GT3 yarder offers benefits weight-wise, while not losing flexibility as far as distance and handling log size.
Because of tree size and today’s more often steep slope logging plans, Bewley Logging sometimes uses two to three bull dozers to tie down the yarder. This allows them to consider jobs that others have turned down. One of the dozers, an early-1980s model Caterpillar D7G is also used in Bewley’s operations for road building, fixing failed sections of roads, and the like. “That Cat’s been everywhere,” he says, “it’s been around here [in Oregon] and to California two or three times. It’s done a lot of work; those are good machines.”
The company also uses a Caterpillar 977, a piece of equipment they have had for about 13 years. “We were doing a burn for Boise [Cascade], and we had to set up in a rock pit and there wasn’t a tree for miles to guy a machine, so we bought that 977. That’s the best stuff we ever bought,” he says referring to the Cat 977. “We paid $3,000 for it and ain’t done nothing to it except put on a pair of steering brakes. It’s made us money. ” He added, “It ain’t pretty, but she sure makes a good stump, I’ll tell you that.”
The third bull dozer used as a tie down for the yarder is a Komatsu D85 that was purchased for a job Bewley Logging was doing for the Hearst Corporation in California in 2012.
“We were backed up against a slope that had nothing but small diameter trees; real steep ground with small diameter trees,” Bewley says. “We were pretty much done without guylines. We were hung out about 2,700 feet or so and on about eight trees per tail hold, and then we had to tie back with three cats. It was a fairly intricate setup,” he says.
Bewley Logging runs two Thunderbird log loaders in their operations, a 738 and a 1240 with a Keto 1000 processing head. Bewley says there are pluses and minuses about operating Thunderbird equipment. “It pulls high volume and it’s got a very strong swing,” he says of the Thunderbird 1240 log loader. The drawback is “they don’t make them anymore… and you just have to know you’re not going to be able to make a phone call and get parts. You’re going to have to scramble and come up with them on your own; manufacture them—make other pieces and parts for them.”
Bewley Logging’s award-winning work speaks for itself and was recognized as exemplary by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), with the honor of 2014 Southwest Operator of the Year. According to the ODF, recipients of the award are honored for responsible, innovative, proactive work, which protects natural resources...work that exceeds natural resource protection requirements.
The job in question that generated the award was a “particularly hard job,” according to Bewley. “There were three large fish-bearing streams on that property, and then it was a downhill job.” He says he tried to talk himself out of doing the job three times, but after getting started, completed the job in award-winning fashion. When they thought it couldn’t be done, Bewley decided that indeed, it could be done, and his was the company to do it.
“Everything had to be skidded downhill and then fully suspended across the creeks,” he says. “It wasn’t a short pull. It was a 1,200 to 1,500 pull across the creeks plus a lot of lateral yarding … and we did it in the middle of winter!”
ODF says, “Mr. Bewley took extra precautions beyond the Forest Practices Act requirements, to prevent debris and dirt from entering the streams, and to retain more trees throughout the harvest area for habitat purposes and aesthetics.”
Bewley likes that the company isn’t tied to logging for just one company. He also likes the versatility of working for both large and small landowners. For the small jobs, Bewley Logging has the capability to take care of almost everything, from obtaining the harvest permit to marking the timber, building roads, and trucking the logs to the mill. Working for larger timber companies eliminates many of those tasks. “We have the capabilities to do whatever either way,” Bewley says, and he likes it that way.
The Logging Industry has changed over the years, since Bewley Investments was established in 1971. The trees being logged today are smaller, and there are fewer mills operating to process those logs.
“We’ve always worked in the woods as a company doing whatever,” Bewley says of the family business. Each member of the family involved in the logging has their own skills to contribute.
Tom Bewley will eventually retire, and Brian Bewley says he will miss his father when that date arrives. “There are some jobs I won’t take now,” Brian Bewley says, “if I can’t have Dad operating the yarder. Sometimes we [family members] step on each other’s toes, but we can count on each other and we trust each other.”
New Generation of Logger
There’s a different breed of younger loggers getting involved today, and Bewley says, “The outlook for the industry for young people coming into this industry is not that good. Many want to be equipment operators and run machines. They don’t know how to scale a tree, cut a tree, skid a tree, or load a tree. They want to start out running the job.”
The younger generation getting into the business is not the same as what he calls old school loggers, who can pretty much do any job in the woods. “I had one kid tell me he really liked cable logging except for walking up and down the hill and pulling cable,” Bewley says. “I told him to think about another career opportunity because that’s pretty much what yarder logging is.”
Future of the Industry
Bewley believes the future of the industry is cable logging, long span cable yarding, and thinning. And Bewley Logging will be right there. Brian declares that he’s got “a good 20 or 30 years left” to dedicate to logging. “For me, it’s a lifestyle; something I’ve done since I was a kid,” he says. “It’s in my blood, and it’s something I will do as long as I can.”
Admitting there are at times “dark and gloomy” days when the whole industry looks beaten and when it crosses his mind that it might be time to do something else, Bewley says he looks instead to a philosophy put forth by Chief Dan George in the 1976 movie The Outlaw Josey Wales: “Endeavor to persevere.”
“This is what we do, this is what we’ve always done, and we’re good at it,” says Bewley. He described it as having a “Gypo spirit.”
“You do it because you love it, and you need to do something you enjoy,” he says. “Because if you do something you don’t enjoy… if you do it because you have to, I feel you’ll probably die a young man.”
On the Cover
Photo taken by Lindsay Mohlere.
Komatsu PC240LL at a Windy Ridge Logging operation.
Bewley Logging began as a logging and trucking company 45 years ago, and has done jobs for both large timber companies and small landowners in Oregon and California.
Leading the Way in Winch-Assisted Steep Slope Harvesting
With the introduction of winch-assisted steep slope logging to North America, the family-owned C & C Logging is again on the front lines of a new movement.
Deere Delivers with New 748L Skidder
The new John Deere 748L skidder is helping a logging operation be more productive, especially on hilly ground.
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Ponsse Assists Off-Road Racing
Ponsse North America realized that an exceptional opportunity awaited them just down the road at the Crandon International
High Expectations for a Demanding Job
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