Good Crew Keys Success For Wayne Stone Logging

by | Mar 1, 2023 | 2023, Harvesting, March/April, TimberWest Magazine

Wayne Stone attributes his nearly 40 years of success in the logging industry to his productive crew and reliable equipment. He is well respected by his employees and others in the industry. He’s seen markets fluctuate many times but has still found a way to keep his crew busy.

Stone grew up in the industry, as his father owned and operated a one-man logging and excavation business. Wayne Stone Logging Inc. was started in 1983, when Stone was 22, with two employees and a Skagit swing yarder. (Today his yarding operations employ a crew of eight.) He added a Madill 071 yarder two years later and hired a few more men.

Stone continued to run one crew for most of the 90s, occasionally adding a second crew if he had enough work. Around 2000 he began running two yarding crews year-round. He also operates a mechanized job with a crew of three. Stone currently employs about 35 workers in his logging and trucking enterprises.

The mechanized job relies on Stone’s most recent equipment purchase, a second Tigercat LX830 feller buncher he purchased from Triad Equipment in Portland, Oregon. Both Tigercat LX830 machines can cut and process at the stump with a Waratah head.

Stone invested in the Tigercat in anticipation of increased demand for thinning work. He chose Tigercat due to its quality and toughness, he said, and the machine’s production can’t be beat. It cuts as much in one day as a three-man crew of hand fellers, he said.

The Tigercat works well on steep terrain. “It’ll climb real well and perform on steep ground,” said Stone.

Wayne Stone LoggingBeside the two Tigercat LX830 feller bunchers, the company has a Tigercat 855 track harvester with leveling capability to work in steep terrain. When cutting timber on a steep slope the Tigercat 855 is tethered to a Cat 330C excavator.

The company also has two Madill yarders, two Skagit yarders, seven Link-Belt forestry machines and two Kobelcos, a Tigercat 250 truck-mounted loader, a Cat 527 skidder, and three Cat bulldozers. Wayne Stone Logging is equipped with eight log trucks, and the company also uses trucking contractors as needed.

Wayne Stone Logging

Yarding crew crowded on top of one of the company’s two Madill yarders. From left are Andrew Sloan, Jerry Warren, Mike Bennet, Brandon Bennet, Riley Lemons, Jeff Klucas, owner Wayne Stone, Jeremiah Powers, Ben Norgren, and Josh Meeks.

The most recent challenge Stone has faced was a slew of wildfires in Oregon during 2020. More than 20 fires burned throughout the state, destroying more than 1 million acres of forest land. Fire destroyed eight pieces of Wayne Stone Logging equipment. In addition, the flames burned five years’ worth of thinning work. Wayne’s company scrambled to harvest as much of the timber as possible before it went bad or became infested. The market was good, so pricing was competitive. The company is just now reaching the end of that work, more than two years after the fires.

One of the most drastic changes to his business came in 1990 when the northern spotted owl was classified as an endangered species. Because of the designation, old growth harvesting on federally owned lands was curtailed and logging practices were heavily scrutinized. This substantially affected the amount of timber being harvested and processed. Stone knows many loggers who went out of business as a result.

When Stone talked to TimberWest, he was operating a yarder job on a Weyerhaeuser site along the north fork of the Molalla River, in the hills above Molalla, Oregon. (Another yarder job site already was snowed in.) Eight men were working on the job – the yarder operator, processor operator, loader operator, four in the brush, and one hook tender on the landing. The crew used a Madill 172B yarder. A Link-Belt 4640 forestry machine with a Waratah HTH324C attachment processed the trees at the landing.

Saw logs and pulp logs from the job were being supplied to the RSG Forest Products and Interfor mills in Molalla. Wayne Stone Logging was averaging about 200,000 board feet per week from the job. Weyerhaeuser brokers its timber sales, so Stone is paid according to his production.

The company mainly cuts Douglas fir and some hemlock on Wyerhaeuser land and “a little bit of hardwood,” said Stone. The average job for Wyerhaeuser is a little over 100 acres, he said.

Wayne Stone Logging

The company’s newest piece of equipment is this Tigercat LX830 feller buncher. It now has two of the machines as well as a Tigercat 855 track harvester.

Beside working for Weyerhaeuser, Stone occasionally buys timber on public and private land. The company usually works in the Molalla River area, with some work on the Oregon coast, Washington, and eastern Oregon. It harvests mostly Douglas Fir and some hemlock and alder, too.

Stone specializes in harvesting timber on steep terrain that other loggers won’t touch. “We do a lot of longer, tougher cable jobs that most guys don’t want to do,” he said. He has found success in these jobs because of the skills of his workers and the equipment he uses. “Our success is due to having a good, productive crew.”

Mill prices have been good, according to Stone, but they are starting to fall due to rising interest rates.

Stone’s son, Zach, supervises a yarder crew, and his son-in-law, Andrew Sloan, is a hook tender and supervises another crew.

Many of Stone’s employees have been working for him for 10 years or more, including a couple who recently retired. Employees are eligible for health insurance, a retirement plan, and safety and holiday bonuses.

Stone has been recognized by his peers. He was runner-up for the Oregon Logging Conference Logger of the Year award in 2021. He was named Logger of the Year in 2015 by both Associated Oregon Loggers and the Oregon Department of Forestry.

Dawn Killough



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