By Mary Bullwinkel
The triple combination — good people, good machines, and pride in what they do — is the key to success for Eagle Point, Oregon-based HM Inc.
Established in the 1980s, HM Inc. is owned and managed by business partners (a wife and husband team) Susan and Ed Hanscom. It is HM Inc.’s willingness to make new approaches to logging work and the ability to specialize in logging jobs that have sustained the family logging business. HM Inc. is proud to provide family-wage jobs and send everyone home safely each and every day.
Ed Hanscom worked in the timber industry for a number of years before starting his own company, HM Inc., which has now been in business for 31 years.
“I love it…it’s been fun,” Hanscom says. “I have met a lot of really great people.”
Turning to Specialization
Hanscom comes from a logging family, getting his start in the industry working for Hanscom Bros. Inc., owned and operated by his father, Harry Hanscom, and his uncle, Harold Hanscom. Hanscom Bros. Inc. was established right after World War II, and the two brothers logged in Oregon and California for more than 50 years.
HM Inc. is destined for similar longevity. “A number of years ago, we elected to specialize in doing tough, special projects,” Hanscom says. “We’ve done a number of special projects that offered a challenge, and that’s probably one of the reasons I am still here.”
One of those special projects was a logging job on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land in the middle Applegate watershed in 2012. HM Inc. logged the Pilot Joe Timber Sale, several hundred acres of timber bought by Boise Cascade. The sale incorporated a new forest-restoration approach to logging on federal land, designed to leave larger trees and improve forest health, while reducing the chance of catastrophic wildfire and keeping loggers working and sawmills operating.
At the time, Hanscom says he was optimistic about the new approach. During the logging operation, he had a high profile visitor, namely U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who affirmed the government’s commitment to making the new approach work.
“I taught him how to set chokers,” Hanscom says.
Salazar specifically referred to Hanscom and his logging crew when he said, “We need to figure out a way of getting beyond the gridlock and moving forward with sustainable forestry that will sustain the jobs Ed has in his company while at the same time sustaining the conservation values that have been so much a focus of this debate over the past 20 years.”
Equipment Makes the Difference
It is the willingness to make new approaches work and the ability to specialize that have kept HM Inc. in business all these years. The company’s logging equipment allows for versatility to do various logging projects as well as road building and some site preparation.
HM Inc was recently operating a yarder side and a shovel side northeast of Prospect, Oregon, on land managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The yarder side was staffed with a 6240 Madill yarder and an Acme carriage, a 240 Link-Belt with a 623 Waratah harvester head, and a 2454 John Deere.
The shovel side was using a John Deere 2454 to gather and a 2154 John Deere with a 622 Waratah harvester head to gather and process trees into logs. HM Inc. had another yarder side operating approximately two hours west of the two above-mentioned locations.
According to Hanscom, there are many benefits to his Madill yarders. “For us, it’s easy to move and the perfect machine for little jobs. It weighs less than 80,000 pounds fully rigged, so it’s quick and easy to move and set up.”
When describing the John Deere log loaders Hanscom says both are less than four years old and are the right equipment for the current logging jobs. “We pretty much log second growth timber anymore…smaller, pretty predominantly tree length.”
Hanscom also runs D7G and D6H Cats for bullcooking and light construction. Brush grapples and ripper shanks can be attached to the John Deere loaded for site preparation and to decommission temporary spur roads.
HM Inc. has one logging truck, a 2016 Kenworth, set up with a quick-change to lowboy or to haul logs. “We do a lot of small jobs, and it is very important to be equipped to move when we want,” Hanscom says. “Our ability to move quickly is one of the keys to our success.”
Keeping Good Employees
Hanscom stresses the importance of modern and properly functioning logging equipment and what it means for sustaining jobs for his employees.
“One thing that has helped us be successful is the fact that we have good equipment, and what helps our employees is we can work almost every day. We try to keep the crew working 11 months out of the year.” For HM Inc., wintertime logging projects are usually for private landowners and using rocked roads.
Hanscom speaks highly of his logging crews. Some have been working for him for more than 25 years. Other members of the crew, who are described as the “new” employees, have been with HM Inc. for ten years each.
“The fancy equipment doesn’t work without the people we have,” Hanscom says. “You can have all kinds of neat stuff, but the people are what make it happen.”
The reputation for solving problems associated with existing timber sales also contributes to the success of HM Inc.
Hanscom says he has taken on difficult projects as well as timber sales with layout problems, and he finds ways to solve those problems to move forward with harvesting the timber.
“We do have a good reputation,” he says. “We do a good job, and we have good employees. I tell everybody, ‘If you can’t be proud that you were there, you shouldn’t be there in the first place.’”
It’s of no surprise that Hanscom and his crew are dedicated to hard work and making sure the job is done right the first time. HM Inc. has also been called in on logging jobs to fix some of the problems left behind by other operators.
Dedicated to the Industry
Hanscom is not the quiet and shy type. He’s a no-nonsense, level-headed, forward- thinking, and engaged logger, with a logical approach to logging to keep both forests and the timber industry healthy.
A 1971 Oregon State University Forestry graduate, Hanscom is a past president of the Oregon Logging Conference (2004) and Pacific Logging Congress 5th Annual in the Woods Show (2006), and he has long been involved in the Southern Oregon Timber Association and Associated Oregon Loggers. Over the years, he has remained dedicated to protecting the logging way of life.
Hanscom sees the need to manage U.S. Forest Service and BLM lands, including the timely salvage and restoration of land damaged by wildfire. He believes that not only does that type of logging improve forest health and reduce the threat of future wildfires, it also provides much needed jobs in the timber industry and a resource to keep sawmills operating. “It’s a tremendous waste if you don’t salvage it,” Hanscom says. “It is a waste of a resource and a waste of an opportunity.”
The logging industry is faced with a number of challenges: finding people to replace an aging workforce and the constant addition of what Hanscom calls bureaucratic and judicial rule changes or interpretation.
“One of the challenges is that the rules are constantly changing,” Hanscom says, “and I want to do all I can to preserve the logging culture.”
On the Cover
Photo of HM Inc.’s 2454D John Deere was taken by Mary Bullwinkel.
Committed to Preserving the Logging Culture
HM Inc.’s willingness to make new approaches to logging and its ability to specialize has sustained the family business.
National Tree Farmer of the Year
The Defrees Family of Northeast Oregon was awarded the 2016 National Outstanding Tree Farmer of the Year award by the American Tree Farm System.
Despite Rain and Snow, Fire Season Cometh
Shamion Forest Thinning and Salvage
When Logging Promotes Conservation
White and Zumstein say taking on the difficult jobs no one else wants can be challenging, but also rewarding and educational.
Mass Timber Conference Review
A look at the Mass Timber Conference
Wood is Good
A look at the Intermountain Logging Conference
A review of tracked log loaders and their capabilities.