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Changing With The Times

Janicki Logging has changed with the times, shifting from US Forest Service work to logging on private land, then moving into the bridge design and development business.

By By Bill Tice
Copyright 1998. Contact publisher for permission to use.

Logging second-growth forests, building bridges, re-directing streams and manufacturing molds for the wings of Boeing jets: it all adds up to keeping the family-run Janicki businesses of Sedro Woolley, Washington in the black.

"It's all about diversification and changing our business to meet current economic conditions," says Rob Janicki, one of the partners in the family business that was started over 40 years ago by Rob's father, Stan Janicki, and his uncle, Walt Janicki.

The family has been in the forest industry around Sedro Woolley for longer than the 40-plus years that the Janicki Logging & Construction Co., Inc. has been operating. Rob's grandfather, also named Stan, owned and operated a shake mill just outside of town.

Through the 1980s, things were progressing well for the company of approximately 50 full-time employees that concentrated on US Forest Service business. Then in 1990, the bottom fell out of the government contracts.

"Up until 1990, 90 per cent of our logging business was US Forest Service work," says Rob. "The shutdown of the forest service land quickly forced us to retool our business in order to serve new customers, primarily private land owners requiring the harvest of second-growth timber."

The company now cuts approximately 1,200 acres per year on contract, producing about 35 million board feet annually. The primary machines used by the Janickis include two Waratah Processors, a Thunderbird Swing Yarder, several shovel loggers and their latest purchase, a Hahn HTL 250 GT Processor (see story at end of article).

The other active partner in the logging side of the business is Rob's brother, Mike. Between the two of them they efficiently cover the terrain around Sedro Woolley. "Mike takes everything east and south of town, while I cover everything north of town to the Canadian border," says Rob.

The company has been harvesting Douglas fir, hemlock and cedar, but recently ventured into cutting alder. "Alder has become as valuable as hemlock, and Weyerhauser is selling it for products such as furniture and flooring," says Rob.

Most of the Janickis' work is clearcutting, although Rob says they recognize that the industry trend is moving towards thinning operations.

"We are still a clearcutting company; however, we are starting to do lots of corridor and ground thinning, and if that is the direction we have to go to stay in this business, then that is what we will do," says Rob.

The company's crews use the yarding system for comers and steep slopes, complemented by a shovel-logging system for much of the remainder. "We have a very good relationship with the Department of Natural Resources officers. We don't cause problems and they trust us to do the job properly, so we can be very aggressive with the shovel," says Rob.

Even though the Janickis are busy in the winter months with contract logging, they wanted to keep their employees actively working year-round. To achieve that goal, they started looking at other options, including the design and development of a bridge system. "We were also getting stream re-direction work so the bridge system was a good fit," says Rob, adding that one of the reasons for their success is the ability of their employees to be versatile.


Janicki Logging has built over 50 bridges.

"Our yarder operator can run Cats and our low-boy driver can run the processor. Almost every person in our company can do more than one thing," says Rob.

Rob attributes keeping people busy to their success in maintaining a solid work force, which includes a dozen employees who have been with the company for over 20 years and more than half with 15 years of tenure.

In addition to keeping people working, the decision to go into the bridge business was also customer-driven. "One of the land owners wanted us to look at different options of getting the logs out due to stream crossings, so we designed a bridge system that can be installed inexpensively in the field," says Rob.

The bridges, which can generally be up to 60' in length, consist of a steel understructure with concrete panels on top. The structure, which sits on precast concrete abutments, will last about 50 years and can even be moved. So far they have built over 50 bridges.

The bridges are purchased by other loggers, cities, counties and what Rob calls "flatlanders", people working in the lowlands rather than the mountains. The largest bridge the Janickis have constructed was a 156' crossing of the Nooksack River in northwest Washington state. "It took two 250-ton cranes and a log loader to get the bridge in place, says Rob.

When the Janickis are not trying to get logs over rivers and streams, they are figuring out ways to re-direct the streams, which is another part of their diversification.

Rob says they get lots of water work, whether it's stream re-direction or putting in culverts. "We like to do water projects. I think it goes back to when we were kids, playing with water all the time," says Rob.

Just a short drive down the highway from the logging company office brings you to the Janickis' latest diversification, Janicki Machine Design. In the large building that houses computer and robotics equipment, John and Peter Janicki supervise the creation of complex, large-scale molds and plugs used for the manufacture of everything from hulls and decks on 150' pleasure boats to the wings on Boeing jet aircraft.

The computer-operated, 40,000-lb. robot was designed and developed by Peter Janicki. The primary purpose of the technology is to manipulate a three-dimensional form from instructions provided by the computer. ne form can then produce thousands of molds with tolerances of 1/10,000".

The machine is replacing the time consuming and expensive task of crafting molds by hand, and Rob says they expect to find many more uses for the technology in a wide range of other industrial applications.

Due to the success of the moulding business throughout the US and Canada, construction of a second machine is already underway. It's a long move way from the logging business, but for the Janickis it is just one more challenge in their quest to keep the family business profitable and changing with the times.

Hahn HTL 250 GT Processor Gets Thumbs-Up

Hahn HTL 250GT

Hahn HTL 250GT

Yanicki Logging and Construction Co., Inc. of Sedro Woolley, washington, took delivery of the first-ever Hahn HTL 250 GT Processor in January of this year. The new machine replaces Janicki Logging's Hahn 300/F processor.

According to Rob Janicki, one of the partners in the innovative logging company, the main reason for choosing the new Hahn machine was the way it handles the logs. "The new Hahn provides us with the opportunity to offer the more discerning customer with exactly what they want in terms of quality of log handling. The machine is a through-flow design, with holding clamps to hold the butt of the tree in place. This allows the five-knife delimbing head to freely stroke the tree, and unlike a feed roller processor, it doesn't mark up the logs, especially the alder hardwood we are currently running," says Janicki.

There were many other reasons for purchasing the Minnesota-built machine. "With the right type of wood and in the right setting, there is not a machine that can process more wood than the 250," says Janicki.

Janicki and his partners had been talking with Hahn for the past five years about the 250. Because it was the first machine of its type to be built, there was a lot of input from the Janickis into the design.

"We got exactly what we wanted and it was like getting a custom-built machine just for us," says Janicki.

He has only positive things to say about their working relationship with Hahn, and Fred Darby of Portland, Oregon-based Timber Harvesting and Equipment Sales, the West Coast distributor of the 250.

"Since it is a new machine, we have had typical start-up problems but Hahn and Timber Harvesting have been great at working out the bugs," says Janicki, citing one example, the electronic eye used for measuring logs.

"The mirror that reflected the laser kept getting dirty, which was causing us some problems. Hahn has since devised and installed a system where two lasers shoot at each other for measuring, and that has solved the problem."

Bob Bennett, who operates the machine on a daily basis for Janicki Logging, is also pleased with the company's choice of processors.

"I am very happy with the 250, particularly the positioning of the cab at the top of the machine. This gives me a 360' view around the machine, whereas with the old Hahn I could only see one side of the processor," says Bennett.

The operator also says everything on the inside of the cab is well positioned. Bennett's only protest is the lack of optional air conditioning in the machine purchased by Janicki Logging.

"After the heat we've had this summer, they are going to install air conditioning in the cab. They just don't know it yet," adds Bennett.

He is also happy with both the manoeuvrability and the flexibility of the machine. "Because it's on tracks, we can get the machine off the road, and it can do a number of tasks, including loading trucks if necessary."

Even though the new Hahn measures in at only 34'6", it can still handle logs of up to a 24" diameter. The width on the 250 is 10'6", while the height for travel is 11'6".

Weighing 67,000 lbs., the 250 has a maximum travel speed of 4 mph and is powered by a John Deere Powertech engine capable of producing 175 hp at 2,400 rpm.

The Delimber is a Hahn five-knife system with a maximum knife opening of 22" and a minimum knife closing of 3". The chain saw is a 3/4" pitch with automatic oiler, and the loader is a Hahn 893 with a 22'boom, a continuous rotating grapple and a fixed heel. The 38,000-lb. undercarriage has triple grouser pads and 14' 6 " long tracks.

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