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Making Our Own Success
“We’re making our own success, keeping ourselves busy by buying and working our own land,”says Doug Truax, president, Chehalis Valley Timber, Montesano, Wash.
Chehalis Valley Timber started on the proverbial shoestring, buyingthe cheapest used equipmentthey could find. In the early 1990s, they bought a two-year-old Hitachi EX200 that was set up as a log loader. And it ran and ran and ran. Altogether, they ran it for 26,000 hours with the same engine. Finally, they sold it to another logger who works in the same area, and it’s still going strong. Truax surmises it has over 30,000 hours on it by now.“From that great experience, we were sold on Hitachi. It was just smooth and a joy to run. We’ve pretty much run Hitachi machines ever since,” says Doug.
Small Operation, Big Plans
Doug walks the properties, counting the trees and the different tree types. He also prepares and submits the bids. His childhood friend and partner, Curt Toyra, handles the day-to-day operations, which includes running the processor.
“Curt’s just phenomenal,” saysDoug. “He’s at the jobsite way before dawn sorting and cutting for maximumutilization. He really keeps the team humping. My other partner is my wife,Julie, who handles many of the business transactions, helps me with the bids andtimber sales, and raises our four kids. Both of us are forestry engineers from Oregon State University, and both of our families are in the forestry industry.” Great Equipment
“Our equipment mix maximizes productivity,” notes Doug. “Our team knows what’s financially at stake with each load, and we provide a turnkey package. I think those are the three points to our sustainability.” After many used-equipment purchases,
Doug and his partners had totake a close look at the maintenance expenses. They decided two things saysDoug: “First, if you add maintenance and repair expenses to the price of used equipment, you could buy a reliable new piece of equipment. Second, wecan’t afford downtime, because it rains so much around here. We only have X number of days to work. If a machine goes down, it costs us. So now we’re not only buying new, we’re working to keep everything current.”
The system they set in place issimple. They buy new for the shovel-logging aspect, because it demands the most from their Hitachi excavator. After it gets a few thousand hours on it, theymove it to the processor part of the operation, which requires an extremely dependable and smooth-operating machine but isn’t as demanding on themachine. What was the processor excavator is shifted to loading trucks, the least demanding effort of all. As each machine cycles through, the oldest is traded for new, and the process starts all over. Their most recent purchase was a ZX290F-3.
Doug says he likes working with Papé Machinery, his Hitachi dealer. “They help me with good deals up-front, good financing, and great support. Of course, buying new, we have a lot covered by warranty. And, they’re right on the spot when something needs to be fixed or adjusted. They also do a really great job of keeping our older equipment in good running order.”
He adds, “We make sure each man working a job knows how to maximize what he’s doing and why. For example, if he’s loading a truck, he needs to know that if he loads it one way with the right mix of logs, it’s going to be a very profitable load. Load it another way, and the profit is eaten up in the fuel it takes to get down the mountain. Same with shovel-logging and cutting.” The company’s winning combination of machinery andmanpower is keeping them in business.
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