Washington Brothers Focused on Growing Forests of the Future

by | Dec 18, 2023 | 2023, Harvesting, November/December, TimberWest Magazine

Ole Bekkevar sees his logging business as similar to farming. “We’re trying to propagate and retain good quality soils and water for the future generations of forest,” he said. “So as far as impact goes, we want to make as little impact as we can. We want to leave it in a better state than what it was when we got there.”

The company’s cut-to-length logging machines are one reason why it is able to leave a small footprint where it works. In fact, the most recent equipment additions were a Ponsse Scorpion harvester and a Ponsse Elephant forwarder from PacWest Machinery,

Bekkevar Logging & Trucking Inc. is a family-owned and operated company that has been in business since 1974. Today the company is owned and operated by Ole, who was interviewed for this article, and his older brother, Nelson. They grew up in a farming and logging family and worked summers with their father harvesting timber. Nelson started working in the family business when he graduated from high school in 2005; Ole got a two-year degree in natural resource management and then joined the company in 2008.

The company is based in Sequim, Washington, which is about 60 miles west of Seattle, across the Puget Sound. Most of its work takes place within an hour’s drive.

Bekkevar Logging & Trucking has about 30 employees, which includes supervisors, two office workers, and four mechanics. The company usually runs three to five timber harvesting jobs simultaneously, with a crew of four or five workers on each job. Most jobs are timber harvests on state or federal forest land.

The company has an array of machines and equipment to conduct various types of harvesting operations. In addition to performing cut-to-length logging with Ponsse machines, the company does road construction, tree-length shovel logging, and cable logging.

The Bekkevars added cut-to-length logging in 2013. They did their homework before deciding to invest in Ponsse equipment. They tried equipment from several manufacturers and found Ponsse performed best.

This year the brothers invested in a new 2023 Ponsse Scorpion King harvester – the machine was demonstrated at the Pacific Logging Congress In-Woods Show – and a new 2022 Ponsse Elephant forwarder from PacWest Machinery. Both purchases were to upgrade aging machines. In addition, the company has an older Ponsse Scorpion King and a Ponsse H10 harvester head that is attached to a Link-Belt 4040 machine.

One of the newest machines for Bekkevar Logging & Trucking is this Ponsse Scorpion King harvester. The company also added a new Ponsse Elephant forwarder this year.

The Ponsse Scorpion King harvester is an eight-wheel machine powered by a Mercedes-Benz 280 hp Tier V engine and has separate hydraulics for the harvester head and crane. It features Ponsse’s Future Cabin and the company’s patented stabilization system. Like the Ponsse Scorpion harvester, the crane is mounted behind the operator cab for unobstructed visibility.

The Ponsse Elephant is one of the largest forwarders offered by the Finland manufacturer. The eight-wheel machine can carry a payload of nearly 20 tons. It is designed and built for long transport distances, difficult terrain, and steep slopes.

(For more information about Ponsse equipment, visit www.ponsse.com.)

Yarding operations include this Madill 071 yarder and Falcon Claw grapple carriage. The company also has Skagit, Boman, and Acme equipment.

The support and expertise of Ponsse personnel have continued to earn the repeat business of Bekkevar Logging & Trucking. “They’re well-rounded in knowing about the machines, how to operate them and how to sell them, unlike our experiences with other manufacturers,” said Bekkevar. “You can talk to pretty much anyone there, and they can tell you or teach you about their equipment. With other manufacturers, their salespeople often don’t understand how to operate the machine or the mechanics of it. They’re just great salesmen.”

Earlier this year the Ponsse Group signed a dealership agreement with PacWest Machinery. Ponsse also sold its service business and shop facility in Coburg, Oregon, to PacWest. Going forward, PacWest will be responsible for the sale and maintenance of Ponsse forest machines in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Getting the wood out with Ponsse Elephant, one of the largest forwarders offered by Ponsse. The Elephant can carry a payload of nearly 20 tons.

“The collaboration agreement with PacWest expands our operational area on the West Coast of the United States and provides Ponsse with opportunities to grow its business in the United States,” Juho Nummela, president and CEO of Ponsse, said when the agreement was announced. “PacWest’s extensive network brings Ponsse services closer to our local customers. There is a lot of potential for the cut-to-length logging technology on the West Coast.”

PacWest Machinery is part of the Joshua Green Corporation, a private company established in the 1890s. PacWest also operates as a dealer for Volvo and Metso in Oregon, Washington and North Idaho. The company has sales and service centers in Spokane, Seattle, Portland, Mount Vernon, Pasco and Eugene.

Bekkevar Logging & Trucking also added a new Ecoforst T-Winch 30.1 this year to tether equipment operating on steep terrain, and in recent years it added a Falcon grapple carriage and a Hilltop Aerial heavy lift drone to carry haywire or strawline.

Bekkevar Logging & Trucking is equipped with a pair of Tigercat track feller bunchers, an LS855 and an LX870D.

The company is equipped with an extensive list of other machines. For tree-length harvesting the list includes a pair of Tigercat track feller bunchers (an LS855 and an LX870D), two Cat skidders (545 and 518), a Cat 325 log loader, a Doosan 300 log loader and a Doosan DX225LL log loader, and two Madill 3800 shovels. Processing is done with a Link-Belt 290 forestry machine matched with a Waratah 623 head and the Link-Belt 4040 with Ponsse H10 head.

For cable logging and yarding operations, the Bekkevars have a Madill 071 yarder, a Skagit 737, Skagit BU 84, two Boman carriages (9100 and 7900), an Acme 23 carriage, and a Ford-powered line horse mounted on a Mack truck.

The company builds its own logging roads because the Bekkevars believe it is more efficient, and they can build roads that will work with the type of harvest equipment for the job. For building roads the company is equipped with three excavators (Cat, Link-Belt, and Volvo), three Cat bulldozers, a Terex XA400 jaw crusher, a Champion motor grader, John Deere and Volvo bucket loaders, and other equipment.

The Bekkevars own a couple of log trucks, so they subcontract most of their hauling to local owner-operators.

Processing is done by Link-Belt machines pictured at lef, one with a Waratah head and one with a Ponsse. Also shown is one of the company’s two Doosan loaders.

The forests in the region where the company works are almost exclusively Douglas fir. At the time Bekkevar talked with TimberWest, the company was harvesting on three thinning projects, trees 35-75 years old and 5-23 inches in diameter. The company supplies logs to mills in the region operated by Interfor, Canyon Lumber, and Sierra Pacific.

Business has been steady since 2008 until recently, according to Bekkevar. “It seems like just within the last couple of months the markets have slowed or softened. There’s not as much of a demand for the products, and the mills aren’t selling as much.” The company has trimmed its work week to four days to align with reduced mill quotas.

Bekkevar Logging & Trucking places a high priority on good logging practices. It holds a number of professional certifications: Accredited Logger of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, Accredited Logger of the Society of American Foresters, and Accredited Logger of the Washington Contract Loggers Association. Many employees are Master Logger certified.

The company added this new Ecoforst T-Winch 30.1 this year to tether equipment operating on steep terrain.

The quality of their work sets them apart, said Bekkevar – the logging site and the logging roads. “We can do a more economic and less environmentally impactful job because we know what will work and what won’t work,” he said. “We’ve had issues in the past working with some mills. Cheap contractor roads just don’t hold up to the impact, the heavy trucks and hauling day-to-day, month after month. It shows in the woods.”

The roads and drainage ditches the company leaves behind should be serviceable into the future. “They should be left in a state that they can be good for a few years without maintenance and to avoid environmental impacts,” said Bekkevar.

The cut-to-length harvesters, processing at the stump, enable the company to leave slash throughout the job site – an important forest conservation benefit. “We’re trying to leave as much slash as we can in the woods so that it’s suitable for replanting for future generations,” said Bekkevar. “The slash has a lot to do with the nutrients that are available for future trees, so it’s important that plenty of it gets left behind. More importantly, you can plant trees that aren’t impacted by the amount of slash,” he added.

Bekkevar is married with two young children; in his free time he enjoys riding off-road motorcycles. His older brother, Nelson, also is married with two young children, and also enjoys riding off-road motorcycles, RVing, and collecting and restoring old tractors.

Dawn Killough

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