May June, 2004





50 Years and still Strong

Hagedorn Logging’s flexibility and commitment to quality keep them successful for over 50 years

By Bob Bruce

Terry Martin skidding with a Prentice 490 skidder.

In the northeast corner of Oregon out around La Grande, the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests are home to billions of board feet of timber. Unfortunately, federal timber sales within these regions have been neither plentiful nor dependable in recent years. As a result, about the only thing that has kept logging operators afloat in this area has been bidding on commercial harvesting and thinning operations on privately-owned land.

Terry Martin, operator, George Hagedorn, owner, and Steve Dick of Glenn Dick Equipment

The available work can often be on small acreage jobs, and frequently comes with a fair number of challenges, both environmental and procedural. For a small family-owned logging company like George Hagedorn Logging, being able to stay in business under such conditions and remain successful for over 50 years requires a lot of flexibility, a strong commitment to quality, and a well-chosen selection of dependable and efficient machinery.

Growing Up in the Trees
George grew up in the logging industry, working for his father George Sr. (who everybody called Ray). Ray got the business started back in 1953, working jobs for Georgia Pacific up around Walla Walla. In 1971 (when George Jr. was about 14 years old), Ray got his first contract with Boise Cascade doing clearing for road right-of-way around La Grande. Two years later, Boise awarded Ray and his crew their first harvesting contract. Sadly, only six years later, in 1979, Ray passed away. George was 22 at the time and just one year into his life as a newly-married man with wife Vanessa. Even so, he was old enough to step into his dad's shoes as best he could to continue the family business. While George's mother, Maita, ran the financial and contractual end of things, George handled the woods crew. Later, George and Vanessa bought out George's mother and took over operation of the company in its entirety. George stayed in the brush, while Vanessa managed the office.

Dave English piliing brush with a Hitachi 200.

Top Notch Equipment & Team
By all accounts, George runs a first-class operation in terms of its ability to meet tough customer requirements and environmental mandates, all the while producing a high-quality product. George gives most of the credit for his company's sterling reputation to his crew, most of whom have been with him for a number of years. For example, Gale Martin, who operates their Cat D5 skidder, has been with George for 24 years — literally since the beginning when George took over. Dave English, who operates the Hitachi 200 loader, has been with the company for a dozen years. While George's 21- year-old son Brad is pursuing a premed program at OSU, George's other son, 18-year-old Danny, has entered the family business and runs the Yutani 200. And it's a family operation in more ways than one, since Gale's son Terry also works for George, operating the new Prentice 490 skidder. Rounding out Hagedorn's equipment and crew lineup is Bill Shaffer, who operates the Cat 518 skidder, and Russ Smith, who works the Cat 322 outfitted with a Denis stroke delimber. Dennis Smith (no relation) is the cutter for the crew. And whenever needed, George jumps into the cab of his Prentice 610 loader, which is mounted on a Lanco rubber-tired carrier.

Danny Hagedorn loading with a Yutani 200.

Adaptable Crew
One of the main things that sets George’s guys apart and makes them such a valuable asset is their professionalism. "Dave and Gale set the example for the rest of crew," says George. "They protect reproductive habitat. They don't tear up the ground. They pile the brush with our loaders so it will burn better. They have pride in doing a job right." They are also willing to learn and adapt to stay in sync with changing priorities and pressures within the industry. For every logging company that has survived, at least two others have gone under.

As Hagedorn sees it, one of the major contributing factors to success or failure under current conditions is the ability of a crew to think on its feet, make intelligent decisions in the brush, and pay attention to detail. Fall down in any of those areas and you run the risk of damaging the environment, delivering unacceptable product to the customer, or running afoul of some governmental agency or public watchdog. Either way, it can end up being an unpleasant hit to the bottom line.

For example, most of Hagedorn's work comes by way of Boise Cascade. Their most recent job involved over story removal on some 185 acres of Boise land east of Union, Ore., up along Catherine Creek near the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. This is a follow-on project to a similar 160- acre thinning operation they completed earlier, also on Boise land. The task requires a fair amount of "heads up" thinking in the field, with pine going to Boise's La Grande mill, fir tagged for Boise's Elgin mill, and pulp headed for Boise's Umatilla mill. In the completed 160-acre cut, approximately 600,000 bd. ft. were removed, but because of Boise's BFI requirement and the need to work around the weather to minimize mud and erosion, the work is restricted to only about nine months out of the year, with anywhere from 15- 20 loads per day being pulled out of the forest and sent to the mill.

Typically on such jobs, Boise sends its own crews out into the harvest units to mark which of the trees need to be left standing for habitat maintenance and such. But sometimes the markers don't make it out in time, or forget to mark a tree that clearly should have been marked. In such cases, the operator has to be willing and able to make a judgment call on the spot to leave an extra tree or two and then perhaps come back later after receiving confirmation from Boise's forester.

Prentice 490 skidder.

Environmental & Practical
According to Hagedorn, the recently purchased 490 skidder fits in well with their style or work and their in-thebrush demands. The large window space in the cab, combined with the simple gauge design and clear instrument layout, won high marks in particular. Terry Martin says he loved the visibility, adding that "No one will have trouble making production with this unit." The 490's grapple also receives Martin's approval. "It really holds the bunch tight," he says. "You don't have to grab the butt long to allow for any slippage." Amore secure load translates into faster production, more accurate placement, and less damage to the logs, all of which is important when trying to maintain high quality output. Finally, the 490 comes with a beefy and reliable Cummins 6BTA-173HP power plant, driving a 6-forward, 3-reverse gear torque converter.

As a result, the 490 works great in tight spots and can handle uneven or loose terrain with a minimum of ground tearing, wheel spinning, or driveline stress. Hagedorn first saw the 490 at last year's OLC show. While he's been a heavy fan of Cat equipment over the years, he said that some of the key features that swung him over to the Prentice were its easy serviceability, the fact that it is built with proven components, and then what you might call overall bang for the buck. "I own a Prentice 610 log loader, and it has outlasted three engines," he explains. "You can't buy a unit that is cheaper to operate. I figured if Prentice can make a loader that good, their skidder had to be strong."


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This page was last updated on Tuesday, September 28, 2004