Timbco feller-buncher and forwarder, Hultdins grapple are key pieces of equipment for Connecticut logging operation
GOSHEN, Connecticut — There are family businesses, and then there are families who are inseparable from their businesses. Wayne Horn’s Logging and Forestry LLC, located in Goshen, Connecticut, is one of the latter.
Wayne describes himself as much more than a logger. He is also a surveyor, a mechanic and a salesman. Wayne’s wife, Dale, runs the forwarder, buys timber, meets with landowners, and cooks—the important stuff.
Wayne Horn came to forestry early in life. “When I was growing up my uncle had a dairy farm, and we lived next door to him,” he recalled. “He also had a small sawmill. So when I was a kid, I was always around the sawmill and saw the logs brought in.”
Wayne worked for the White Memorial Foundation, a conservation organization in Connecticut. While working for the foundation he took a number of forestry-related workshops and courses and logged the organization’s 4,000 acres of woodlands.
When Wayne left the foundation, he worked for a logger in the same area for a couple of years. He and a co-worker wanted to go into business on their own, and they formed a partnership that lasted for several years. The partnership dissolved before he and Dale married.
Wayne was not through with working in the woods; he wanted to go back to logging. In 1983, shortly after the two wed, he suggested to Dale that they start a family logging business.
“I knew nothing about this industry,” said Dale. “I didn’t have any experience or knowledge. I was training horses, and Wayne and his partner were logging down the road from the farm I was managing.” She was curious about the logging operation and started talking to Wayne about it. Six months later they were married.
Dale didn’t have to know the logging industry to be willing and supportive. Since she had always liked working outdoors, she jumped right in. “I read books, and I took courses,” she said. “Then I started buying timber. I learned from Wayne, and I learned the nuts and bolts of the industry from the ground up.” For the first 18 years of the company’s existence, Dale also drove the log truck.
The company buys standing timber from private landowners. “We do the complete harvesting of the woodlot and we market the logs,” Dale explained. “We sell mostly saw logs to lumber mills and sell some veneer to the veneer companies. We also sell a little pulp, but we don’t get too involved in that.” The company cuts and sells mostly hardwoods, such as red oak, hard maple, ash, soft maple, birch, and beech along with a small amount of white pine.
Wayne Horn’s Logging and Forestry is based in Goshen, Connecticut, where the company has a garage and office. The landowners the Horns work with are primarily in the northwest corner of Connecticut, southwestern Massachusetts, and eastern New York. The company has no other employees other than Wayne and Dale; they do everything themselves.
“For a while our son was involved in the business,” Wayne said, “but he started seeing how difficult everything is with permitting and the weather and ended up getting another job, so it’s back to just the two of us.”
Working hard is something neither of the Horns mind. “It’s about quality,” Dale said. “We handle the whole job from the beginning to the end, and the people we work for know that we’re going to be the ones doing the work, and they’re comfortable with that.”
Even with just the two of them, the Horns can produce a sizable volume of wood. If the weather is good during the winter, they can harvest about 1 million board feet each year. That’s considerably more than the amount they estimate they cut the first several years in the business.
Part of what makes the Horns so productive is the equipment they use. Several years ago, the company switched to Timbco equipment, which made operations much more efficient. The company’s Timbco 425 track feller-buncher is equipped with a bar saw.
“With the feller-buncher I can cut the trees down, cut most of the limbs off, and cut the top off with that machine,” Wayne said. “Then I just have to finish it with a chain saw.” He uses a Timberjack 460 dual-arch skidder to move the logs where he wants them, and measures and scores the logs so Dale can follow with the Timbco 820 forwarder, which is equipped with a Hultdins grapple and bar saw.
The Horns made a decision to invest in the Timbco machines in part because they knew they didn’t want any employees.
“You sit up high in the Timbco forwarder, and the whole cab moves with you, kind of like an excavator, so you’re always looking right in front of yourself,” Wayne said. “With the grapple that’s on it, I don’t have to buck up my logs; Dale can do it for me. So when I pile the logs up with the skidder, I mark them with the chain saw. When she comes, she sees where the marks are, and she can buck them up into lengths and put them on the forwarder. And she can do it all from inside the cab of the machine.” The result is a process that is easier and safer, and one that is much more productive and more environmentally friendly.
“With the feller-buncher I can save a lot of younger trees because I control the trees and put them where I want to put them,” Wayne noted.
Although the feller-buncher and the forwarder the Horns have carry the name Timbco, that same equipment now is manufactured under the TimberPro name. Timbco was purchased by Partek Forest. Pat Crawford, the original designer and manufacturer of Timbco machines, had the option to purchase the rubber-tired segment of the business back from Partek Forest after three years. He did so, and renamed the new company TimberPro. So the Timbco equipment of several years ago is the same as the TimberPro equipment of today. The Horns bought the machines through CJ Logging Equipment Inc. in Boonsville, New York. The couple has been doing business with CJ Logging Equipment over 10 years and counts on CJ Logging Equipment for its knowledge of forestry equipment and strong service.
Wayne is very pleased with the equipment and the way it enables the company to operate. “It’s easy, it’s safe, it’s functional, and it does a nice, clean job,” he said. “I’ve tried other forwarders and skidders, and they just didn’t do the job I wanted them to do.”
The Horns do not expect to make any big changes in the near future. Their equipment is all fairly new, and it is doing the job they expected. “Since everything does what I want it to, I don’t see any reason to change now,” Wayne said.
At the core of their success is the kind of quality control that only dedicated and committed individuals can provide. By doing all the work themselves, the Horns ensure that the landowner gets exactly what they have promised. They have built a reputation for honesty and integrity — and quality work.
“The quality of our work has brought us more work,” Dale said. “We always pay promptly for the timber, and we never leave a mess.”
They deliver on their promises, and their Timbco equipment makes it possible for them to do so.