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Dec Jan 2004/2005  - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal


Focusing on logging

Newfoundland contractors Stuckless and Stuckless, having sold their sawmill off a few years back, now focus on logging and were selected the Canadian Woodlands Forum’s contractor of the year for Newfoundland and Labrador two years running.

By Bert Pomeroy

Alvin Stuckless (above) is pleased to be back in the industry. “When you spend most of your life in the woods, I guess it gets in your blood,” he says.

Alvin and Seth Stuckless have no intention of ever getting out of the forest industry again. The brothers are the owners of Stuckless and Stuckless Inc, a logging company in the tiny central Newfoundland community of Glenwood. The two are no strangers to the forest industry. In fact, the Stuckless family has been involved in forestry for more than 50 years. But that association nearly came to an end four years ago when—after more than 30 years—the family sold its sawmill operation. “Our father moved to Glenwood in 1957 and started cutting railway ties, and in the late 1960s he established Glenwood Forest Products when he began cutting conventional lumber,” explains Alvin. “When we owned the sawmill we were harvesting 100,000 cubic metres of wood every year.”

Seth questions why he decided to get out of the industry at that time. “I missed it very much. I wasn’t content at all. I’m a lot happier when I’m working in the woods.” Less than four months after selling the sawmill, the brothers landed a contract to cut a right-of-way. “When you spend most of your lives in the woods industry I guess it’s in your blood,” says Alvin. Little did the brothers know at the time, however, that they would again become a major player in the forest industry. Nearly one year after selling their sawmill operation, they received a call from Corner Brook Pulp and Paper Company Ltd on Newfoundland’s west coast. “They wanted to know whether we were interested in a contract to cut 75,000 cubic metres of wood a year,” notes Alvin. “It was a very exciting phone call.”

Seth Stuckless with the operation’s Timberjack 1210 forwarder. Stuckless and Stuckless harvest mainly in the Gander Lake watershed area, in central Newfoundland. The wood is transported, by independently owned trucks, directly to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper, some 300 kilometres away.

The brothers jumped at the offer, and they haven’t looked back since. In fact, the company has been so successful that it has been recognized as Newfoundland and Labrador’s Outstanding Contractor of the Year for 2002 and 2003 by the Canadian Woodlands Forum-Atlantic branch. As a result, the company was also nominated for the Atlantic award, as well. “We didn’t win the Atlantic award, but we’re very proud of being selected the top contractor in Newfoundland and Labrador,” says Alvin. “We were very excited to win it the first time around—we didn’t expect to win two years in a row.” The goal of the Canadian Woodlands Forum award is to raise the profile and recognition of the logging profession’s contribution to managing the forest resource in a sustainable manner. The project was developed to promote and support independent contractors and operators who work on woodlands operations.

The award is open to all logging contractors involved in the cutting and handling of wood and/or the transport from stump to the mill gate. The contractor must either cut and/or move a minimum of 5,000 cubic metres of roundwood. While it’s the company’s most prized award, it’s not the only one. In 2003, it was the recipient of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s Mechanical Logging Contractor of the Year Award. First introduced in 1997, the award has grown to be a much sought-after prize among both contractors and woodlands employees.

The Stuckless brothers with their LogMax 5000 head on a John Deere 200LC. In 2003, Stuckless and Stuckless was the recipient of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s Mechanical Logging Contractor of the Year Award.

At the end of every year, the company’s woodlands management staff completes a thorough, measured performance evaluation of each of its contractors and selects the best overall mechanical and conventional operations for the award. The company’s standards are high, with evaluations being completed in five categories: safety, environmental management, productivity, quality and special initiatives. Stuckless and Stuckless Inc has also won Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s Monthly Outstanding Performance Award for June 2003.

The contractor operates two nine-hour shifts, seven days a week, for 45 to 47 weeks of the year—closing down around Christmas and for a couple of weeks during the summer months. The wood is harvested in Forest Management Districts 5 and 6, mainly in the Gander Lake watershed area in central Newfoundland. At peak times, the company employs as many as 50 people—20 of which are conventional cutters who harvest 15,000 cubic metres during a 16 to 18 week period. “These cutters have been working with us long before we started using mechanical harvesters in 1995, when we were cutting wood for the sawmill,” notes Alvin. “Before we got the harvesters, we had around 90 independent power-saw operators. We decided to keep them on and not replace them when they leave the business.”

All of the Stuckless and Stuckless equipment is serviced every 500 hours. The brothers operate a trailer set-up where regular maintenance and minor repairs are carried out. The major repairs are done at their main garage.

The company has two 1270D Timberjack harvesters, as well as a John Deere 200LC with a LogMax 5000 head. It also has two 12-tonne Rottne forwarders, a 1210 Timberjack and an 840 Valmet. The wood is harvested, brought to the side of the forest access road, loaded aboard independently owned trucks and transported directly to Corner Brook Pulp and Paper some 300 kilometres away. The company also builds roughly 50 kilometres of forest access roads each year, utilizing two excavators (a Cat 320C and an John Deere 892), as well as a 200LC John Deere log loader, a 750 John Deere bulldozer and a TC44 John Deere front-end loader—which is also used for snowclearing, sanding and lining the wood. “We service all of our equipment every 500 hours,” notes Alvin. “We operate a set-up trailer where we carry out the regular maintenance and the minor repairs. All major repairs are done at our main garage in Glenwood.” “We’re quite proud of our equipment,” adds Seth. “We really like John Deere equipment, mainly because we get really good servicing in Grand Falls-Windsor (about 75 kilometres west of Glenwood).”

Robin Stoyles arrives on the job at five o’clock each morning and brings whatever supplies are needed for the day. The company’s foreman, Stoyles holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical geography. He’s worked in the forest industry for 12 years, but the last three, he says, have been the most rewarding. “This is a really good operation, with well-maintained machines,” he says. “We have very dedicated employees with great attitudes—the most important resource we have is our workers.” As forestry technician, Stoyles is responsible for laying out blocks for cutting and ensures proper buffers are maintained. He also works directly with the mechanics, making sure they have the necessary tools and parts to do their work.

And he conducts regular monthly safety meetings with all employees. “Safety and environmental monitoring is very important and we take it very seriously,” Stoyles maintains. “Corner Brook Pulp and Paper carries out monthly environmental and safety inspections—we have to achieve 95 per cent to pass.” As part of the safety program, Stoyles conducts regular “stop observations to watch operators to ensure they are following the proper procedures.” Stoyles is also responsible for ensuring there is no waste. “Once we finish a block, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper sends in a forestry technician to carry out an inspection to make sure there is proper fibre utilization.” Meanwhile, back in Glenwood, Seth’s wife Ivey and Alvin’s wife Fronie carry out the company’s daily administrative work. “It’s still pretty much a family business,” notes Alvin. “My son Jeff and my son-in-law and Seth’s sons-in-law also work for the company.”

In an effort to meet the needs of its growing mechanical operations, Corner Brook Pulp and Paper began training new operators in the fall of 2002. The training involved one week on a state-of-the-art harvester simulator and one-week hands-on experience to develop the boom control necessary to move an actual harvester. On-the-job training required a union contractor with the necessary equipment and experience. The Stuckless brothers saw a real opportunity to expand their activities, so they arranged to have a Timberjack 1270C harvester and a John Deere 200LC carrier with a Log Max head available to use on Corner Brook Pulp and Paper’s training program. Doing well with the one contracting company, Seth and Alvin decided to set up another company. Future Forest Management Inc was born nearly two years ago and, like Stuckless and Stuckless, has seen much success.

In January of this year, after less than one year in operation, it received the Outstanding Grader Operator Award from Corner Brook Pulp and Paper. “With Future Forest we harvest 65,000 cubic metres a year, with 25 unionized employees using three harvesters—two Timberjack 1270Cs and one Timberjack 608 and two 12-tonne Rottne porters,” notes Seth. “The operation is only a few kilometres away from Stuckless and Stuckless. It’s working out really well.” Although the Stuckless brothers are confident about the future of the forest industry in central Newfoundland, they’re still not putting all of their eggs in the one basket. They’re in the process of branching off into other lines of work, like building bridges and general contracting. “We’re trying to secure a future for our families,” says Alvin. “We have sons and daughters who will eventually take over the business. We want to make sure they have a good start.”

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