Subscribe Archives Calendar ContactLogging & Sawmilling JournalMadison's Lumber DirectoryAdvertise Media KitHomeForestnet

Untitled Document

TimberWest November/December 2013

Nov/December 2014

A Lone Wolf in the Woods
Photo by Lindsay R. Mohlere captures Lone Rock Logging, working their Pierce DeLimbinator

Leader in Stewardship and Maximum Production
It’s Lone Rock Logging’s proactive commitment that has won them so many awards, including the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Southwest 2013 Operator of the year.

A Lone Wolf in the Woods
Fred Warth Contracting prides itself on taking on the small jobs that others walk away from.

Making Wood Waste Valuable
Rawlings Manufacturing sets up a new test facility at its Spokane manufacturing center to focus all aspects of wood waste processing.

Productivity and Safety
Go Hand in Hand

Sevier Logging based out of Olympia, Wash., focuses on high production and safe practices.

A Cat Tradition
Lind Logging out of B.C. isn’t afraid to try something new, especially if it’s technology being developed by Cat.

The Show
America Logger Council annual meeting review.


In the News

Association News

Machinery Row

New Products

Guest Column



 CLICK to download a pdf of this article

Lone Rock Logging Company

A Lone Wolf in the Woods

Fred Warth Contracting , Sweet Home, Ore.

By Lindsay R. Mohlere

“They call me ‘Bottom Feeder Freddy.’ It’s because I’ll do what everybody else doesn’t want to do,” says Fred Warth as he leans against his 1999 Timberjack 2618 feller buncher. “None of the big operations want to peel off and do a six or seven acre patch when they can put out twenty loads a day.”

Located in Sweet Home, Ore., Fred and his wife Stephanie are the sole operators of Fred Warth Contracting, a unique logging company that truly sweats the small stuff all the way to the bank.

“We take on the small jobs, rehabs, and private owner tracts too small for most operations that run a crew. It’s just Fred and me,” explains Stephanie.

Single operator logging companies are an endangered species, but Fred and Stephanie have followed a simple business philosophy that has paid off. “We try to do a good job and be honest with people. You gotta show up. We try to please our clients,” says Fred.

Stephanie agrees. “Great customer service is what makes the difference.”

For nearly 20 years, Fred and Stephanie have slugged it out through the hard times and the good times to create a respected company that serves a particular niche in the logging industry. “I was working for a larger crew but doing some private stuff on the side. Weekend work basically — rented the equipment,” says Fred explaining how they got started as a one-man logging operation. “It just happened. We decided to go off on our own. Took a mortgage out on the house, bought an old 550 John Deere dozer and a power saw, and let ‘er rip. I like working for myself.”

Fred and Stephanie Warth, owners Fred Warth Contracting, happily take on the small jobs.

Fred and Stephanie Warth, owners Fred Warth Contracting, happily take on the small jobs.

Taking Care of Business

One of the biggest challenges facing any logging operation is surviving the radical ups and downs of the timber industry. For Fred and Stephanie, it has been a wild ride.

When the economy tanked and the housing market came to a screeching halt, the timber market collapsed. “During the crash, the mills quit buying. We had no work,” Stephanie says.

In order to survive, Fred says he ran a shovel for a friend who had a large timber contract. “You got to do what’s necessary to survive.”

Today, the company is doing what it does best — logging small tracts on its own.

It all begins with marketing the timber. “We follow the timber market closely,” Fred says. “We can advise our clients on the possible prospects of the sale. We shop the markets depending upon the type of trees and get back to the landowner. Let them know who’s got the best prices for the different types of wood.” In addition, Fred cruises the stand, logs the site, and then cleans up and piles brush for fall burning. “We contract out our hauling, usually to Z & L Enterprises. Most of the time, we only need one truck.

“I don’t replant. We give our clients a copy of Oregon Department of Forestry’s planting schedules, and it’s up to them to do the replanting. Around here, Tim Dodge does most of the replanting,” he adds.

The company works on a per-thousand cost basis rather than a percentage cut. “We pay for all the costs involved. Pay for trucking; handle burn fees. The timber owner gets paid per thousand. I feel we should get paid the same way. On occasion we do a mill split to keep everything straight,” he added.

New projects come from a variety of sources. “We get most of our work just by word of mouth,” Stephanie said. “We do advertise in a little paper called the Tell & Sell. Ninety percent of the calls don’t turn out to be much, but every now and then we get a good one. We also get a lot of repeat customers.”

In addition, Cascade Timber Consultants Inc. will occasionally refer clients who have projects too small for larger crews.

“Sometimes you’ll pull out on a job and a neighbor sees you and asks you to do their work,” Fred says. “That’s happened before.”

At times, when new work doesn’t roll in when it’s expected, Fred and Stephanie weather the slow down with cautious optimism. “We’ve been in business long enough to know it’s going to work out. Why stress? It’s going to be what it’s going to be. We just have to handle it,” Stephanie says.

“We’ve had some lean times,” Fred says. “I hand it up to the Good Lord to keep us going.”

Keeping the Bottom Line on Track

Running a one-man operation means keeping a sharp eye out for good used equipment and being serious about preventative maintenance. “I don’t buy anything new,” Fred says. “I’ll buy old stuff and do what needs to be done to keep it in good shape. We take good care of our machinery. We fix what needs to be fixed and do the maintenance every night.”

Like most Northwest logging companies, Fred logs year round. “Soil compaction is a problem. We run our 1995 wheeled John Deere grapple skidder any time we can, but basically we do a lot of shovel logging.” He uses a 2006 Kobelco 250 as his main shovel and a 1994 Kobelco 220 as his loader. A 1995 Kobelco 220 with a 518 ProPak stroker does the processing. For longer yarding jobs, Fred relies on the grapple skidder. In addition to his feller buncher, Fred does hand cutting.

“I don’t pioneer any roads, but I’ll use our 650 dozer to carve out a little spur road on occasion. Clear a spot for loading,” Fred said.

“On the bigger jobs, when I can move a couple of pieces of equipment in, I’ll have the Kobelco 250 up in the brush and position the older 220 to do the loading,” Fred continued explaining how one man can do it all.

To keep a tight fist on the bottom line and knock down expenses, Fred does most of the equipment maintenance himself. “I do everything that I can. When we need to have a crane to move some heavy parts around I use a guy in Sweet Home, Ray Stratman of Stratman Repair. He’s really good. He goes the extra mile and gets things done right. For the John Deere equipment, I use Pape’ Machinery. John Carlson is one of their best mechanics. He’s one of those people that can pretty much diagnose what’s going on over the phone. Both these guys do a real good job for us.”

Fred gives Stephanie a lot of the credit. “It’s a huge challenge trying to make a living out here in the woods but our secret to success is having a wife that supports what you want to do. She’s a great partner. She handles all the billing, all the paperwork. I do the labor. We’ve raised three kids and supported ourselves.”

Fred sums it up the way his dad used to. “What you get out of life is what you put into it.”