Texas Logger a Voice for Forestry Industry

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B&W Logging invests in Bandit Beast grinder for processing slash, residue into fuel

BROOKELAND, Texas — Talk to Tommy Burch, owner of B&W Logging, Inc., and two things are immediately apparent. He is committed to the logging profession, and he genuinely likes his work.

Tommy launched B&W Logging with a partner some 38 years ago. After 20 years, Tommy and Donald Wood, his partner, decided on an amicable split to the business. Donald took the right-of-way land clearing segment, and Tommy took the logging.

In Tommy’s business, mechanization has always been part of a sound business strategy. Name any technological advancement in logging — for example, retrievers, delimbing gates, shears — and Tommy has been out front, trying the technology for B&W Logging.

There are two good reasons for mechanization, Tommy noted: reducing labor costs and improving safety. Foremost is the safety, he said.

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Tommy looks for the best mix of machines to get a job done. His company performs clear-cuts, thins, and provides chipping services. A year ago he added a Bandit Industries Inc. Beast model 3680 horizontal grinder. For chipping, B&W Logging is equipped with three Peterson Pacific 5000 series whole tree chippers. The company does considerable work in pine plantations, performing thins and chipping the trees that are removed in the thinning operations.

When Tommy talked with TimberLine recently, he had a 13-man crew working on a first thinning job. The crew was removing approximately five of every seven trees in a 14-year-old tract. The Peterson Pacific machines convert the stems into chips for paper manufacturer Temple-Inland or hog fuel for Mead-Westvaco.

A long-time contractor for Temple-Inland Inc., Tommy configures his crews to various jobs, depending on what needs to be done. He was using the Bandit Beast 3680 to grind the slash generated from the thinnings, residue from the chippers, and small hardwoods and pine straw. The grindings, about 50-60 truckloads per week, are sold to a biomass fuel generator.

B&W Logging uses New Holland front-end loaders to load the Bandit Beast 3680, which is available with an optional knuckleboom loader.

In the Bandit Industries Beast series of horizontal grinders, the model 3680 is in the middle. It has a 30-inch by 60-inch opening. The smaller Bandit 2680 has a 24-inch by 60-inch opening, and the Bandit 5680 has a 50-inch by 80-inch opening. Bandit Industries recently introduced a fourth machine to the line of Beast recyclers, the Bandit model 4680, which has a 40-inch high by 60-inch long opening.

The Beast is the first machine that Tommy has purchased from Bandit Industries. He said “a long-standing personal relationship” with principals at Bandit got him interested in the machine. Bandit Industries, a 20-year-old company, is headquartered in Remus, Mich.

Tommy worked closely with Mike Ganues, a sales representative for Bandit Industries in Bossier City, La. He liked what he heard from Mike. Now, said Tommy, he likes the performance he gets from the Bandit 3680 horizontal grinder. “If I was going to buy another today, I’d buy another Bandit,” he said.

When Tommy finds a machine that performs well, he usually stays with the manufacturer. He owns seven Tigercat 720 feller-bunchers. “We’ve been using them since Tigercat came out with them,” said Tommy. B&W Logging is also equipped with seven Cat 525 skidders.

His commitment to the forest products industry keeps Tommy tightly connected to trade organizations. He is on the board of directors of the Texas Logging Council and is also a member of the advisory council for the Texas Forestry Association.

In fact, on the day that Tommy was interviewed for TimberLine, he was preparing to meet with 12 aides to U.S. congressmen over dinner to talk with them about the logging industry. “We get involved,” said Tommy. “We give a lot of tours on the job sites.”

Taking time to explain logging and the forest products industry to congressional staffers and others is important, Tommy noted, in order to win public support. “If we don’t stand up and be counted,” said Tommy, other interest groups will portray loggers and the forest products industry in an unfavorable light. “We’ve got to spread the message of what we’re doing,” he said. “We care more about the land than anyone else.”

Tommy’s knowledge of the logging industry spans just about every dimension of timber growing and cutting. “I have planted ‘em, cut ‘em and replanted ‘em,” he said. One of his first jobs was planting trees for a company that was later purchased by Temple Inland.

Tommy’s son, Jerry, grew up in the forest products industry. “He’s worked right by my side since he was seven,” said Tommy. Jerry has worked in the trucking side of the business since graduating from high school.

Jerry operates his own trucking business, Jerry Burch Inc., and often hauls wood for B&W Logging. Jerry’s trucking company hauls logs, chips and lumber. The business, which Jerry has owned and operated for 18 years, employs 23 people and has a fleet of Peterbilt and Kenworth tractor-trailers.

Having had the opportunity to see the Bandit 3680 when it was being demonstrated for B&W Logging, Jerry said he was impressed from the first. “It’s a great machine,” he said. The Bandit Beast 3680 runs eight hours per day, but Tommy spends very little time on maintenance, Jerry observed. The low maintenance and high production are big plusses, he said. “”It’s exceeded expectations,” said Jerry.

Both Tommy and Jerry headquarter their businesses in Brookeland, which is in east Texas near the Louisiana state line.

Tommy is a native of Brookeland. Wanting to stay in the town after high school, he determined he would have to start a business to do so. “I started out hauling short pulpwood,” he said.

Tommy is very happy with the path he took. Seeing the world stretched out in front of him every day in the expanses of ever-regenerating trees is one of the things that he likes about his work. “We enjoy it. We just enjoy being with people,” said Tommy. “I love it.”

“I have a little vacation every day,” Tommy said, citing the time he gets on the job to appreciate the natural world around him. On some days it does not even seem like work, he added.

Jerry shares his father’s passion for work. “I enjoy it all,” he said, “just being outdoors” and going on hauling runs throughout east Texas and nearby states.

Some employees have been with B&W Logging for 25 years or more. “It’s a family-oriented business,” Tommy said. The employees are “just like family,” he added. “You see their kids born…cry with ‘em, laugh with ‘em.”

Taking time away from work, Tommy enjoys spending time at a camp house near the Sabine River. On occasions, Jerry takes a more spirited break. “Jerry does a little horse-racing,” said Tommy, who goes to watch.