By Andrea Watts
Finding the market niches that deliver the best value is just one of the services Cedarland Forest Resources offers its clients. And for the private landowners who don’t know where to turn when considering forest management activities, the Cedarland brothers, Joe and Ben, are welcome partners.
Developing a Business
Developing these markets began more than 20 years ago when their father, Tim, started Cedarland Tree Farms. Gradually their business expanded to managing timberland in the Hood Canal area and into Snohomish County. In addition to providing forest management services for clients, they also had a logging crew.
In 2009, the Cedarlands expanded their management operations into South Carolina, where they purchased timberland originally owned by companies such as Weyerhaeuser and Plum Creek. Ben moved to South Carolina and spent the next four and a half years developing management plans that transitioned the land from an intensively managed plantation to a more sustainably focused vision.
Diversification Keeps Company Alive
This diverse timber portfolio carried the company through the recession, and Ben credits the demand for pine for keeping their company afloat. They were, however, forced to sell their logging equipment and let go of their crew.
When the market recovered in western Washington, and with the management plans fully in place for their southern holdings, Ben returned to Washington to resume his work, alongside his brother and father. Ben recalls his time in South Carolina as ‘totally fun’ and compares the management of a pine forest type as “apples and oranges” to the Douglas fir forests he was used to.
Working in Three Counties
The company’s office is located in Gig Harbor, and they work within a two-hour radius in counties surrounding the Hood Canal area (Pierce, Kitsap, Jefferson, Grays Harbor, and Mason). “We like working in the Hood Canal rain shadow,” Joe explains. Their current investment holdings of 850-900 acres are also located within these counties.
Though Tim is still involved with the marketing operations of Cedarland Forest Resources, it is now the brothers who oversee the day-to-day operations. Ben oversees the logging operations and the marketing of the timber while Joe handles the land acquisition. Ben says that this makes for a good partnership.
The equipment they were forced to give up during the recession has since been built back up and are all in use. They have a 2154D John Deere swing machine with a 22B Waratah head that they have owned since December. The Waratah head was purchased refurbished, and Joe says, “It looked like Christmas [all red] when it showed up.”
The brothers credit Chad at Papé in Fife with being with a great help when upgrading their equipment. “We’ve always been John Deere fans,” Joe says. “It does what we want it to, and it’s fuel efficient.” And Ben says the brand has improved in the last five years.
Cedarland’s other piece of equipment is a Tigercat 620 skidder that Joe describes as a workhorse, saying (tongue in cheek), “It will move some logs.”
Small but Mighty Crew
Cedarland’s three-person crew, Brandon Miller, Jim Merick, and Jimmy Harp, are guys that the brothers say they never have to worry about. Jim, their operator, has been with the company the longest at seven years, with Brandon on the skidder at two years, while the newest crew member is Jimmy on processor who was hired last year.
Ben estimates the crew handles 10-15 loads a day, which is a “good sustainable pace for us as we want to keep morale high.”
The hauling is contracted to Montesano-based Vessey & Sons. “We’ve had trucks in the past but it was a double-edged sword because of the maintenance, and hauling isn’t our main focus,” Ben explains. He also adds that in spite of the forested hills in the area, they are not interested in getting into steep ground.
One Job at a Time
Having a small crew means, Cedarland only takes on one job at a time, and because its clients are private landowners, the jobs are typically fewer than 100 acres.
Ben says they look for efficiency when approaching a job. “Sometimes bigger isn’t better.” It’s all a numbers game when approaching a job, whether it’s clearcutting or thinning, to ensure it’s profitable for all involved, he explains. Ten acres or less, it gets difficult to be profitable, he says. At the time of the article, the crew was working a 32-acre site, which Ben considers a good size.
When it comes to the permitting process, Ben says, “I really like all the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) field foresters, and they are really good people to work with.” For technical issues relating to permits, the company turns to Rick Kuyhndall with American Forest Management, who also used to work for DNR. In turn, the brothers may be called upon by Rick to handle a job for one of his clients.
Ben considers the company’s experience in marketing timber as a special expertise. It’s what they’re known for. “Because we have been in the business for over 20 years, this experience has let us develop markets that have really paid off,” says Ben. “By dealing exclusively with private landowners whose timber doesn’t fit within the commodity market, we can find niches that we can capitalize on. We’re pretty fortunate in that.”
The mills Cedarland has a good relationship with include Murphy, Alta Forest Products (for western red cedar), Weyerhaeuser, Interfor, and Manke Lumber Company.
For their clients, Cedarland Forest Resources handles all aspects of the sale: permitting, marketing, and even contracting out the writing of a forest management plan.
Ben says the brothers don’t consider a job finished until the replanting is done. “We always want to make sure the land is replanted.” Ben even discusses the benefits of successional planning with landowners, something that older landowners don’t realize is a great way to keep the wealth of the timberland in the family.
“The landowners who we work with are really appreciative because they didn’t know where to start,” Ben says. “It’s this people part of it that I love.”
On the Cover
Starks Timber Processing out of Puyallup, Washington, operating
one of its Tigercat LS855Cs on steep slopes.
Cedarland Forest Resources helps
private landowners find their niche.
The Reality of Steep Slope Logging
Starks Timber Processing discusses the need for safety when it comes logging
on steep slopes.
Transitioning to the Next Generation
After 35 years, R. L. Smith Logging has
seen is all. The next challenge will be passing the torch.
Wood Castle Fine Hardwood Furniture mills wood to guarantee supply.
Three Questions to Ask Before Buying a Log Loader
How to make the most of your next purchase.
Climbing Steep Slopes with the ClimbMAX
B.C.’s Tolko Industries is the first operation in North America to use a winch-assist forestry machine—the ClimbMAX steep slope harvester.
A look at processing heads.