By Rick Stedman
The Oregon Board of Forestry selected All Around Logging LLC as the 2021 Northwest Oregon Operator of the Year. Though humbled by the award, principal owner Aaron Silbernagel feels he was simply doing what he is supposed to do—providing people with the best service he knows.
The award specifically recognized Silbernagel’s efforts assisting landowners who were devastated by the September 2020 Beachie Creek Fire, which burned 193,000 acres in eastern Marion and Linn counties.
The humble Silbernagel initially balked at being singled out by the Oregon Board of Forestry for his detailed work on Taylor Park just after the fire. “This is what we’re supposed to do, and to me, it’s simply another job that needed attention,” he says. “I treat all property that I work on as if it were my own, and the standards I have for myself are exactly what people expect from me.”
One of Silbernagel’s longtime customers is Randall Tinney; they’ve worked together for nearly two decades. Tinney is manager of Taylor Park, a private 230-acre campground that has been in the Tinney family since 1867.
“Aaron Silbernagel was the first person who called me after the fires ceased, and he was simply trying to help,” says Tinney.
“Before the fire, every couple of years, I would go through and salvage trees around all the campsites,” says Silbernagel. “But immediately after the fire, Randall needed me to assess the marketability of the logs, determine how we were going to access it, and deal with it. Fortunately, there was a lot of salvageable lumber.”
According to Tinney, “Aaron removed more than two million board feet of timber from Taylor Park, while leaving everything that was viable.” Prior to the Beachie Creek Fire, Taylor Park offered 623 campsites, but only 550 have been rebuilt.
Tinney notes, “Not only did Aaron determine the damage of the various trees throughout the property, he also marketed the logs to ensure I received a fair price. He never sent me a bill for his efforts, but he clearly had my interests in mind. You simply can’t find anyone more honest and caring when it comes to looking out for customers, and you can’t put a price tag on that kind of customer service.”
Immediately after the fire, Tinney noticed a lot of unethical behavior. “Many loggers were simply trying to make a quick buck, and the quotes for clearing damaged timber were unrealistic and overpriced.”
Tinney also shares that Silbernagel hired a few loggers to assist him with clearing the Taylor Park property shortly after the fire. Again, there were no extra fees charged to Tinney, but those loggers were paid, obviously by Silbernagel. “On his own volition and own dime, Aaron hired crews to conduct the reforestation after clearcutting portions of the damaged property,” says Tinney.
Silbernagel also extended his heartfelt thanks to all the mills and others who assisted in the clean-up and timber removal efforts after the Beachie Creek Fire.
All in the Family
Another Silbernagel client is Mason, Bruce & Girard (MB&G), which was established in 1921 and is one of the nation’s premier natural resource consulting firms. For the last five years, Silbernagel has worked with MB&G senior forester Edie Dooley, who oversees a large track of land dubbed the Family Farm.
Dooley describes Aaron’s work ethic: “Aaron loves his work and takes immense pride in it. This shows in the condition he leaves the ground after harvest. His units are always immaculately piled, while protecting the old duffy logs and important large leave material. Only having worked with Aaron on ground-based clearcuts, his clean-up efforts have given me a skewed impression of what is normal. He takes the time to get the job done right, so there aren’t issues to try to fix which aren’t fixable—like cutting the wrong trees.”
Dooley adds that when the 2020 Labor Day fires threatened their property, Aaron “was completely devoted to protecting the Family Farm and helping out in any way that he could.”
The Silbernagel family logging business was built on providing outstanding customer service, so you could say that those customer service skills are part of Aaron’s DNA.
The Silbernagel name has been linked to Oregon forestry for a number of years. Aaron’s father Cliff and older brother Jeff taught him most everything he knows today about the timber industry. Aaron recalls, “They taught me how to be a conscientious logger, and how to treat people the way you want to be treated.”
Aaron began working in the early 1990s as a heavy equipment mechanic. He then worked with his dad and older brothers. “I moved on to work as a timber faller, and that was my passion,” he says. Aaron worked as a timber faller by day, came home, showered, and then continued with equipment repair. “I didn’t need much sleep back then, and I was always ready to take on more.”
Aaron’s dad also paired him with older brother Jeff in a large stand of timber, which gave Jeff an opportunity to share his knowledge and skills. “For that, I am forever grateful. We were always looking out for one another, which is how it should be with co-workers working in the field,” Aaron said.
“We routinely focused on how to do the best job we could.”
Starting All Around Logging
When Silbernagel ventured out on his own in 2003 forming All Around Logging, he already possessed the necessary skills for success, and his background in equipment repair came in handy given the variety of machines he ended up owning and operating on a regular basis.
He also became quite fond of Cat products and the Cat dealer, Peterson Cat. “I’ve dealt with the people in parts when I was in equipment repair, when I did equipment mechanics in the early 90’s. I’ve dealt with them for my own business, well, nearly 20 years,” he said, adding that they had helped “out on a couple of used machines, and then went out of their way to assist on some stuff that wasn’t exactly right with it. Peterson Cat. Yeah, they go the extra mile.”
Currently, Silbernagel’s equipment roster includes a Cat 568 equipped with a QS600 Southstar processor, Cat 322 log loader, Cat 517 tracked skidder and a Cat 325 excavator. In addition, Silbernagel fields a Cat 320C equipped with a Waratah processor, a Cat 229 log loader and a Cat 518 rubber tire grapple skidder.
Currently, Silbernagel’s equipment roster includes a Cat 568 equipped with a QS600 Southstar processor, a Cat 322 log loader, a Cat 517 tracked skidder, and a Cat 325 excavator. In addition, Silbernagel fields a Cat 320C equipped with a Waratah processor, a Cat 229 log loader, and a Cat 518 rubber tire grapple skidder. “I learned a lot about Caterpillar products during equipment repair,” he says. “I also learned about their dependability.”
Today, Silbernagel’s All Around Logging is still a small business, though he occasionally takes on assistants if a job requires it. Given his success as a sole proprietor for the last few decades, Silbernagel has a simple philosophy when it comes to customers. “Give them the best you can by providing the service they want and expect. If you have done your best to accomplish their goals, you generally have a successful finish.”
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