Siegmund Excavation & Construction, Stayton, Oregon
By Lindsay R. Mohlere
According to Andrew Siegmund, president of Siegmund Excavation & Construction, the evolution of his company into offering full-service steep-slope logging was more like coming around full circle and getting back to the company’s roots than taking a wild stab at a new industry.
The company’s core business is forest road construction. “We build roads, pile brush, do forest road maintenance, haul rock, and develop quarries... we have a portable rock crusher to prepare rock for logging roads. Our primary business is working in the woods,” says Siegmund.
“My grandfather, Ralph, ran a logging operation, Siegmund Logging, up into the mid-90s. My dad, Lou, grew up working with him on the logging side. He then went to Oregon State, graduated, and served five years in the U.S. Air Force. When he came back in the 70s, he started this business as a side to the logging company. It was something of his own. The excavation company performed road construction in conjunction with logging services. Both Gramps and Dad worked hand in hand.”
Logging to Excavation
Siegmund’s grandfather shut down the logging company in 1994, but the excavation and construction company continued to work the forests and tree farms on the west side of the state, from the Cascades to the coast range.
“I came back to work with my dad in 1998. About five years ago, we purchased a CAT feller buncher to start cutting right-of-ways ahead of our road construction crews, and one thing led to another. We found a really good operator and branched out doing clear-cut work when we weren’t cutting right-of-ways,” Siegmund says.
The company then began doing full-service cutting ahead of logging operations, utilizing the buncher and contract hand cutting crews. “The problem was, from a business perspective, it didn’t make sense taking on all the risk,” says Siegmund.
A Visit from New Zealand
Around the same time, Weyerhaeuser arranged for a New Zealand manufacturer to travel to Oregon and demonstrate its steep-slope timber harvesting technology and methods to Northwest logging outfits.
At first, Siegmund was skeptical. He was concerned with the difficulties of servicing a machine on a steep slope. The difficulties of getting parts down a hill. The difficulties an operator would have operating on that kind of terrain. Dropping $1.5 million on a new harvesting method not tried in the U.S. was also a concern.
But with much thought and research, Siegmund focused on the positives. The technology had been proven on the steep slopes of New Zealand. It was more efficient, didn’t require men on the ground, and most important, was safer for his crews.
Making the Move
About two years ago, Siegmund Excavation & Construction jumped in with both feet purchasing two EMS Tractionline winch-assist systems from Technical Forest Solutions (TFS). This was the creation of a new, full-service logging side for the company, which was also the first operational steep-slope outfit in the Pacific Northwest to apply for and receive a research variance from OR-OSHA.
Most of the work done with the steep-slope crew is for Weyerhaeuser. However, Siegmund also cuts roads and does clear-cut work for several other land owners.
“We build roads, work in quarries, and crush rock. It’s our primary focus. We recognized that Weyerhaeuser would be a steady customer. Their upper management is very committed to steep-slope technology and the associated safety benefits. We viewed it [adding steep-slope technology] as an opportunity and wanted to have one more thing in our tool box that creates value for our customers,” Siegmund says.
Today, Siegmund Excavation & Con-struction employs about 45 people, offering a competitive wage, health benefits, 401K, and paid vacations. “We pride ourselves on operating a well-run business, which is a credit to our employees, and being a solution to help fill our customers’ needs,” says Siegmund. “If you do that, you’ll always have a job.”
The Right Iron for the Job
Siegmund’s new logging side has been on the job since late spring 2016. The company fields a crew of five, all operating late-model Cat forest machines. The Tractionline winches are paired with a Cat 568 excavator and a Cat 330 excavator.
Fred Getz, is the logging foreman. He runs a Cat 568 FM shovel, and Eric Luscher stands in as the cutting foreman. He is the principal operator of the Tractionline dual winch assist platform. He operates the steep-slope Cat 552 with a 28-inch Quadco head or Siegmund’s other Cat 552 equipped with a Satco boom and Satco grapple saw clear cutting ahead of the logging crew.
Processing is done by David Jackson operating a Cat 325D paired with a Log Max 10000 processing head, while Ben Gloor sees to shovel duties atop a Cat 320C forest machine.
Aaron Wainman runs a Cat 522 feller buncher equipped with a 24-inch Quadco head or the Cat 522 with a 28-inch Quadco head. He also operates the buncher clear cutting ahead of the logging crew and cuts right-of-ways ahead of the road building sides. Aaron also fills in running a loading shovel or logging shovel as needed.
Siegmund also runs a 2008 KW T-800 seven-axle long logger, driven by Shawn Parks. Contract truckers are used as demand warrants.
“We’re 100 percent Cat,” Siegmund adds. “Across our company, we’ve got about 60 pieces of Caterpillar equipment. We’ve tried other manufacturers, but decided on Cat because of parts availability and product support. Downtime is a killer. We’ve been very satisfied with Cat and our local dealer, Peterson [Cat].”
In addition, Siegmund Excavation & Construction does all its own repairs and maintenance outside of warranties. They have a full-service shop and rebuild engines and transmissions when necessary. “If a machine is covered by warranty, we push the manufacturers. If not, we do it ourselves,” says Siegmund.
First in the Fire
On Sunday, July 23, 2017, at approximately 5:30 P.M., a lightning strike ignited the Whitewater wildfire in the Whitewater drainage near the tourist town of Detroit, Oregon, in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness. Over the next two months, the fire devoured over 14,451 acres.
As the blaze chewed through the acres of timber, it began encroaching forest lands owned by Freres Lumber Company of Lyons, Oregon. To aid firefighters and to protect their ground, Freres timber manager Todd Parker called Siegmund, one of their nearest logging contractors.
When Siegmund took the call, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) needed to build a fireline at the point where the Wilderness joined Freres’ land. Siegmund was more than happy to help out.
“Todd called and asked us to bring one of our feller bunchers up to the fire. Once we were up there, one of the folks from ODF recognized that the machine had a hitch on it. He asked our operator, Eric Luscher, if we could tether the machine, and Eric said that we could,” says Siegmund.
“They were really interested in that because they needed a steep fireline constructed. Hand crews were working on the line, but the reality of it was they probably wouldn’t get it done in time. They wanted to create the fireline and then back burn to protect the private ground.”
Siegmund’s steep-slope equipment enabled ODF to build the fireline in less than three days, which was days or possibly weeks ahead of what hand crews could have done. It was also the first time a tethered feller buncher steep-slope operation had been used in fire suppression efforts in the U.S.
On the Cover
Lindsey R. Mohlere captures David Jackson operating a CAT 325D paired with a Log Max 10000 processing head
NW Strike Teams Battle Fire Northwest strike teams demobilize after fighting the Thomas Fire.
First on the Slope
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