By Kristi Granberg
Wayne Stone Logging Inc., based out of Sandy, Oregon, officially started almost 40 years ago, in 1983. The Stones have a pictorial history of the beginning of their business in the form of a photo album. It’s full of action shots, equipment, and houses they rented in order to be close to the jobs they worked on, in the small town of Birkenfeld, Oregon, and locations along the Oregon coast and Washington, including Mount St. Helens.
“Here’s our first loader,” Wayne points out. “That was an old slack pulling carriage. It went on the sky line just like the motorized carriage. It was hard and took a lot to learn how to run it.”
Back in the Day
When Wayne first started logging, about all he had in the way of equipment was a truck, a swing yarder, and an old rubber-tired, truck-mounted loader.
In 1985, Wayne bought a timber sale, making enough from the job to purchase an 071 Madill yarder, which, along with some newer yarders, is still in use. “They’re a lot of work, but I just like a yarder better than ground based. I’ve seen so many bad crews just tip a yarder over, or no production. A yarder is just a liability without a good crew. Pretty simple, that’s the truth.”
Wayne doesn’t sit still. In order to see a new, faster loader at work in the woods, Wayne recently flew to North Carolina and watched a couple of Weyerhaeuser sides.
“We’ve been buying quite a bit of that Tigercat stuff,” says Wayne. “We’ve got two 830s this summer that cut at the stump, mostly for thinning, and then it cuts for the yarder sometimes too. And then an 855 steep ground tethering machine — a Tigercat. That’s brand new, the loader part; the truck’s old. And then we actually bought another big yarder, the big Skagit, the 199. We moved it to Dexter [Oregon] and are working on it right now. Then we’re going to move it to Florence and do a job this winter.”
Today Wayne Stone Logging is comprised of about 40 employees, including a full-time office manager, two mechanics, several truck drivers, and loggers. Stone’s employees include son Zach, son-in-law Andrew, daughter-in-law Lindsey, and Wayne’s sister, Linda.
These days Wayne logs quite a bit for the USFS.
“When we first started, I had a hell of a time getting jobs — just little private jobs. The mills, back in the old-growth days, you kind of had to have a big name before they’d hire you. But after we started logging for them, they’d usually come and ask you to bid on jobs.”
But Wayne and his crew prevailed. Through the years, they took on their share of challenging jobs and recently finished one above Turin’s pit at Mt. Hood Rock’s Brightwood quarry. “That was a fairly tough job,” says Wayne. “Now we’re going to be doing one for SDS up out of Stevenson, flying logs over Rock Creek this winter or early spring. That will be interesting to see, because when it comes out of a creek, the logs are so high up in the air.”
Current and Future Challenges
There was limited time available to interview Wayne for this story, because everyone was aware that his presence might be needed at a rally at the State Capitol against Oregon’s hotly contested HB2020, which could have a potentially devastating impact on logging and other industries.
As we prepared to leave Stone’s shop, he received a call from truck boss AJ Becker, who was sitting in one of more than 50 trucks at an I-5 rest area, ready to descend on the streets of Salem, Oregon, and the steps of the Capitol. The first four trucks in line were from Wayne’s fleet. Some think this show of support helped Oregon’s senators in their decision to walk out of the 2019 legislative session, assuring that the 16 votes required to pass the bill would not be present.
(Fortunately, the bill did not pass, and for those who have followed the movement, Timber Unity was born.)
Putting Together a Good Crew
Wayne tries to keep people working year-round. “The goal is to keep them working every day. Because once you get them, and they’re good, that’s the best way to keep them — even if sometimes we got to keep them fiddling around the shop a little.”
Wayne Stone logging has employed a number of individuals over the years, ranging from three months to over 20 years of service. According to one crew member, Wayne expects them to “work hard, but he’s very fair.”
Wayne feels the biggest challenge right now for the company and the industry is finding workers, both loggers and truck drivers.
“The guys that stay with it really like the logging, because we can’t compete with high construction wages, especially the unions,” says Wayne. “We seem to be doing a little better this spring. Upped the pay, that helped a little, I think. We’re starting green choker setters at about $18-20 an hour. Then they’ll get up into the $30s if they’re a hook tender or operator.” Wayne also provides health insurance and a simple retirement plan, which the company matches three percent. The company also provides a safety bonus —$250 each quarter — and usually “a pretty good Christmas bonus.”
Retirement in the Future
Wayne plans on hanging up his hard hat in about five years. However, that won’t mean the end of Wayne Stone Logging. With the next generation in place, the company is prepared to move into the future. (And both Wayne and Debbie foresee Wayne continuing to visit sites, and perhaps bid on equipment.)
Along with the investment in modern equipment that the business has made, Wayne’s kids have assured that the company will keep up with the times in other ways — like using social media.
Wayne’s recent plan to place a help-wanted ad in the local paper was rejected (and maybe even snickered at) in favor of this more modern method. If you check out their Facebook page, you’ll see some amazing pictures and video of jobs in progress, along with a recruitment post, just in case you want to be part of this dynamite team poised for the future.
ON THE COVER
Wayne Stone’s crew members L-R: Ray Gamble, Jerry Warren, Zach Stone, Chance Maynard, Cody Henderson, Josh Meeks, John Burley, and Wayne Stone
Paying Attention to Goals Pays Off
Gustafson Logging Company receives AOL’s Logger of the Year Award in 2018.
Feet in the Past — Poised for the Future
For almost 40 years Wayne Stone Logging has kept in the game and met challenges head on.
Taking to the Skies
Bridgewater Logging adds a drone to its fleet.
Getting the Most from Your Tires
Not paying close attention to a good tire maintenance program can, over time, cost an operation thousands of dollars.
Albach Diamant 2000
Demonstration of an all-in-one chipper.
An update on the various grapple carriages on the market.
A Talk with Pat Weiler
A Q&A with the new owner of Cat’s purpose-built forestry business.
Forestnet launches a new forest jobs website — forestnetjobs.com.
Why industry professional must concern themselves with greenhouse gas emissions.