putting a face in an old growth on the 8585 Weyerhaeuser.
By Lindsay Mohlere
When Zach Brugnoli, owner of ZB Contract Cutting LLC, located in Coquille, Oregon, began researching tethering machines, efficiency and versatility were at the top of his list.
His search led him to Tim Eastman Mechanical in Castle Rock, Washington, where he was introduced to the TimberMax product line and the new TimberMax T20 winch assist machine.
“I did a lot of research on the TimberMax winch system and their product line. I knew there was nothing in the United States like it, but you’re taking a machine you already have, and making it a dual-purpose machine. All the other winch systems on the market are just a winch — and that’s it. If you’re not winching, you can’t use it. With the TimberMax, if I’m not using the winch, I can take off some hoses, put the bunching head back on, turn the valve, and get back to bunching trees. You don’t have a machine just sitting. The TimberMax makes it multipurpose. Any time you can do that, you’re money ahead,” Zach says.
The versatility of the TimberMax is a solid plus, according to Zach. The fact that it’s a single line winching system that can assist you working downhill as well as uphill, enables the operator to access ground in a safer and more efficient way.
“The TimberMax gives you more versatility. You can go down or up a hill. It’s the first winch system on the market that will do that,” says Zach.
The winch is attached to Zach’s 2004 Madill 2200, winching his Tigercat 830. At present, the system has yet to be used going uphill, however, when a job comes up that requires it, Zach is ready.
“When I had the TimberMax installed, it was the first one in the United States, and unless someone’s done it since, we have the only TimberMax winch system in the world on a leveling buncher. You can actually walk it out into the units, getting it off-road to access some steeper, more difficult terrain,” he says, adding that they recently finished a job up Fall Creek out of Myrtle Point, Oregon, that had steep, rocky ground where the short pitches were 80 to 85 percent.
“We’re always going to need hand cutters in the area we’re in, but new technology definitely helps. Anytime a guy can get equipment into a difficult or a dangerous spot where the hand cutters don’t have to deal with it, that’s definitely the better way to go. The TimberMax will open up more opportunities. It will keep the guys that are on the ground safer and increase the logger’s productivity. But, at the end of the day, we’re always going to need hand cutters.”
Building a Business One Chainsaw at a Time
2008 was a tough year, especially for the timber industry. The global financial crisis contributed to a 50-year record low of housing starts and wood product prices, and production fell off the cliff. Employment declined by 71,000 workers, and lumber production fell by almost 50 percent. Despite the dire circumstances of the global economy, 2008 was also the year Zach Brugnoli went into business for himself and started ZB Contract Cutting.
Having grown up in a logging family — Zach’s dad was a hook tender for GD Logging — Zach was fairly certain he knew what he was going to do. The day after he graduated from Myrtle Point High School in 2003, he signed on with Ray Chard Trucking and Excavation to build road.
“I started on my own in 2008. Just me,” he says. “As the years went on, I slowly had more guys start working for me, and I built it from there. Started with a chainsaw and a pickup.”
As Zach began building a crew, he purchased his first machine, a 2005 Madill 2200 — right before the Horse Prairie Fire blew up in 2017.
“I took it on the Horse Prairie Fire and made some good money putting the fire out,” says Zach . “I figured after that, I’d put some money back into the machine, get it ready for the rest of the year. I had a new undercarriage put on it, and a week out of the shop it burned to the ground. I had to keep moving forward, figure out a way to buy another machine while still paying for the burned one and waiting for the insurance company. It wasn’t easy.”
Zach notes that despite the everyday challenges of business, whether political, environmental, or the rising prices of everything, his plan is to keep growing and moving forward.
“I’ve grown every year I’ve been in business, and I’m just going to try to keep it going that way. I don’t want to get too big. I just want to keep moving forward,” he says.
Men and Machines Get the Job Done
Currently, ZB Contract Cutting fields a 2014 Madill 2250C operated by John Huston; a 2005 Madill 2250B operated by Jared Bemetz; a 2016 Tigercat LX830D operated by Sonny Giles; a 2004 2200 Madill buncher that’s fitted for the TimberMax winch system, and a lowboy to do the hauling.
As of this writing, Zach is currently demoing a TimberPro 755. If he buys the TimberPro, it will replace his 2014 Madill. “I basically want to update equipment and technology to stay ahead of the game,” he says.
If Zach gets the 755, he’ll set that machine up to tether as well, which will give him the versatility to use different machines for different jobs. “Eventually, I’ll have all three machines set up for the TimberMax. I want to be able to bounce the winch machine around between all the bunchers. If we’re doing two or three different jobs, the TimberMax will be easy to move from job to job. I’m trying to be as productive and cost-effective as possible.”
Today, ZB Contract Cutting cuts for CatchMark Timberlands Southwest Oregon, Southport Logging, Roseburg Forrest Products, Lone Rock Timber, and Weyerhaeuser Timberlands, along with a number of gypo loggers including Ray Chard Trucking and Excavating, Henry Logging, Blaylock Inc., Messerle and Sons, Foglio Trucking, and D&H Logging.
Zach employs a crew of around 20, many of whom have worked for ZB Contract Cutting for several years. Pat Ybarra of HWM Equipment Repair is the primary mechanic, and Lynda Arriola has been doing the bookkeeping and running the office for ZB Contract Cutting since Zach started the business in 2008.
“I’ve got a good core group of guys,” says Zach. “In the last five years, I haven’t had much turnover. At the end of the day, if you didn’t have your crew, you wouldn’t have anything.”
On the Cover
Photo of ZB Cutting on a smoky morning - TimberPro feller buncher with Quadco head on the Archie Creek fire in Glide, Oregon.
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