Goettl Logging Prompts Log Max to Build Fixed Harvesting Head: After using a prototype machine of the Log Max 7000 XT fixed head on a TimberPro 725, Jon Goettl is able to make design suggestions and is so pleased that he has purchased a second unit through Pioneer Equipment.
Chippewa Falls, Wis.—
Loggers don’t get to try out prototype equipment every day. But when Jon Goettl, owner of Goettl Logging in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, needed a new piece of equipment, he not only was able to try out a brand new piece, he got to help design it. The result, a Log Max 7000 XT fixed head on a TimberPro 725 track machine, has done so much to help Jon’s business that he has purchased another one just like it.
Goettl Logging evolved from a trucking company of 45 years ago.
“My grandfather started trucking back in the 1960s,” Jon said. “Then my dad took over in 1978. We were pretty big truckers in the logging industry; we had twelve trucks at one time. Then we sold out and I started logging. I was 18 at the time, and I’m 35 now.”
By the time he was 18, Jon had worked just enough in the trucking industry to know that he didn’t like it, and that he wanted to do something else, so he chose logging. Now his father Gerald works with him.
“He’s part owner of Goettl Logging,” Jon said.
Besides just logging, Goettl Logging is closely tied to the wildlife management community.
“We do a lot of land clearing for food plots for hunting land,” Jon said. “We also do a lot of select harvesting for the Department of Natural Resources and on managed forest properties here in Wisconsin.”
Overall, he said, quite a bit of the timber industry in the area is tied to wildlife and hunting.
“There’s a lot of public land that comes up for timber sale bids that gets thinned for wildlife management,” Jon said. “There also are landowners who have hundreds of acres they’re managing for deer and other wildlife, and they go in and thin some areas and clearcut other areas so some areas get thicker for the wildlife to bed in.”
On some of these tracts, Goettl Logging may build ponds to help with wildlife management goals.
“What we do depends on the landowner,” Jon said. “If it’s someone I know really well I’ll help him out by building a pond. But that’s a really small part of what we do.”
For the most part, Jon said, he cuts oak and other hardwoods for pulpwood, with some bolt material mixed in.
“The trees that are eight inches and up may go for bolts for building pallets,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of big logs left in our area because they’ve been hit pretty hard over the years.”
Although the company still does a small amount of trucking, Jon contracts with truckers most of the time.
“We have two trucks and we do a little of our own trucking,” he said. “But we contract out ninety percent of our trucking.”
Not all the wood is trucked immediately.
“We own 80 acres right behind our shop,” Jon said. “We have a log yard there where we can hold some of the timber if we need to.”
When Jon cuts a tract, he leaves the tops and logging slash in the woods.
“Right now, there’s no market close to us for the tops,” he said. “With the price of fuel, we can’t afford to truck it more than 40 miles, and the nearest mill that would use it is 100 miles away.”
When he travels to cut wood, Jon said, he looks in a 70 to 80 mile radius for tracts on which to bid.
“Our average trucking distance is about 150 miles to the mill,” he said.
Jon also sends equipment out to work on pipelines across the nation.
“I had equipment down in Florida last year,” he said. “I also sent it to Georgia, Louisiana and Texas, and up to Pennsylvania this year working on pipelines.”
When Jon started logging, he started with a Bobcat and a skidder.
“Then I got my first processor when I was 19,” he said. “I always wondered what I was doing with that one, because I was in the red all the time.”
Then he traded in the first processor on another one.
“I like the fixed heads, because you can run them like a chain saw,” Jon said. “A lot of the wood I’m working in is pretty gnarly and there are a lot of branches. With a fixed head you can get them pretty well cleaned up.”
Jon went through several processors over the years, always staying with fixed heads. Then the particular brand he had been using was sold to another company.
“I didn’t care for some of the updates that the new company made to the model I was using,” he said. “But then Log Max told me that they’d build me one the way I wanted it so I decided to try them.”
Jon bought his equipment from Steve Ory, one of the owners of Pioneer Equipment in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
“We’re the TimberPro dealer for the state of Wisconsin,” Steve said. “We’re also the Rottne dealer for Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, and have Log Max, Risley and Quadco.”
Steve said he’s sold Jon Goettl a total of four machines, including the TimberPro with the fixed Log Max head.
“It’s the very first fixed Log Max head out,” he said. “Jon has now taken delivery of a second machine that’s identical to the first one that will be at the Logging Congress on display.” Jon also has purchased a Valmet tracked hot saw with a Quadco head and another TimberPro machine from Pioneer Equipment.
Steve said the TimberPro with the Log Max head on it works well in the terrain where Jon cuts.
“He deals with a lot of hilly terrain, and does a lot of work for Northern Clearing, which is always in really rough terrain,” Steve said. “The TimberPro does everything that Jon wants, and I know he’s pleased with it because he just bought the second one.”
Part of what makes Jon’s use of the particular piece of equipment unique, Steve said, is that the first one he bought was the prototype machine. As a result, the two of them had to alter some of the features of the machine just a bit.
“We put on an automatic greaser for the bars,” he said. “Most people are familiar with putting oil in to lubricate their bar and chain. We put a greaser system on this particular machine, which makes is a little more economical to run and because it’s grease instead of oil, it sticks better. That means we’re getting better bar and chain life, and that saves Jon money also.” Using an automatic greaser in this way is a new approach to lubricating equipment, Steve said, so it took a few tweaks to get it right. Now that it’s working, however, others will be in the field soon, including the new one that Pioneer Equipment is building for Jon.
Once he used the TimberPro a while, Jon said, he could see some ways to improve it.
“I talked to the engineers about it, and they did some redesign on it for the second one,” he said. “I haven’t seen the new one yet, but it will be at the Logging Congress this month. That will be the production model.”
Steve has liked working with Jon on the prototype machine.
“He’s a good, honest operator who runs a family operation,” he said. “They work very hard and have a lot of machinery; they have a good sized operation. Jon has been very pleasant to work with. He knows what he’s doing and tells you what he needs. He’s one of the better businessmen I’ve run into in this industry.”
Jon wasn’t shy about telling Steve what the equipment needed to improve upon it.
“I gave them feedback on a lot of things,” he said. “One thing was the knife pressure; we had to adjust that. And the oiler didn’t work right so we ended up putting a greaser on the machine. It was a lot of trial and error to get it right, but I think they got it right for the next one that’s coming.”
Jon said the reason that he got to work with TimberPro on developing the new machine was that he asked for a fixed head on it.
“I asked them, ‘Hey, can you guys build me a fixed head because I’m not happy with some of my other fixed head machines,’” he said. “There are only three or four types of fixed heads out there, and a couple of them are not in our area. So TimberPro and Log Max stepped up and Pioneer Equipment was there to help get it done.”
TimberPro and Log Max worked from an existing model to create the new fixed head machine.
“They took their dangle head and refabricated it just a little bit,” Jon said. “But then it snowballed for Log Max and now they have something they can sell all over the place. I’m hoping that it turns into a big production thing for them especially for our area here in the Lake States, because our wood isn’t easy to cut like the wood in Florida, for example.”
Besides his father Gerald, Jon’s brother Bryan also works with the company.
“He and my father and I are the three owners of the company,” Jon said. “He’s a year younger than I am.”
Both Jon and Bryan started out in other industries before coming to logging.
“Bryan went to college to be an electro-mechanical engineer,” Jon said. “I went to school in fluid power technology. We both ended up back in the woods. But there’s a lot of fluid power technology involved in logging because everything is run with hydraulics.”
It’s too soon to tell whether his children will take over the company one day or work in the forest products industry at all.
“I have a 14-year-old who’s talking about studying to be a cook,” Jon said. “And my five-year-old talks about working in the woods, but it’s too early to tell whether he’ll really want to do it.”
Jon said the number of employees the company has varies between seven and eight.
“Most of them run forwarders, and a couple run processors,” he said.
Overall, Jon said, having the TimberPro with the Log Max fixed head has made his operation more efficient.
“Now we can utilize more wood because we can run the fixed head just like a chain saw,” he said. “We can trim the knots off really nice and make quality wood. It’s increased our productivity by ten to fifteen percent.”
In the next few years, Jon said, he would like to see Goettl Logging stay about where it is.
“I don’t want to go backwards,” he said. “But I don’t necessarily feel like we need to get any bigger. We’re big enough, and I’d rather keep doing just what I’m doing. I would like to see us get a biomass plant so we can start using more of the tops.”
The best part of being in the logging business, Jon said, is self-employment.
“I like being my own boss,” he said. “If I had it to do over again, I would do the same thing again. I don’t think I would change anything.”