TimberPro 735 leveling machine with Log Max® 7000XT fixed head is a top-performing match among steep hills and big trees.
POUND, Wisconsin – There’s deep experience. And then, there’s truly deep experience. In the sphere of machinery, Brian Jensen, who co-owns J&B Logging, LLC with his father, Jim Jensen, has the latter.
“I grew up on a farm,” said Brian. “We had a dairy farm. I went to college for mechanical engineering [at Michigan Tech]. Our history was farming. I always enjoyed working with the equipment more than the cows.”
So great was the affinity Brian had for machines that soon after he and his father launched their logging operation in June 2005, he began doing demonstrations for vendors of equipment including the first TN 725 built by TimberPro. He got to know felling and processing heads and their carriers in a firsthand way. And when he was ready to move from a series of used machines to a new felling and processing machine, he decided on a TimberPro 735 leveling carrier with a Log Max® 7000XT fixed head.
In choosing the TimberPro and Log Max equipment, Brian worked closely with Hakan Berg, one of the team members at Pioneer Equipment in Rhinelander, Wis. “He really knows the Log Max heads very well,” said Brian of Hakan. “I doubt there’s anyone that knows them better.”
When we spoke with Brian in early October, he had been using his new TimberPro carrier and Log Max head pairing one month. But he said the performance was everything he expected. “I’ve been cutting really big, ugly scrub oak – with a lot of brush,” he said. In that setting, he was producing 60 cords each eight- or nine-hour day.
In that oak, “big limbs can normally start eight to 12 feet off the ground. I expect to be able to significantly increase production in better wood,” Brian explained.
For the last eight years, J&B Logging has worked as a subcontractor to Marshal Giese Trucking in Crivitz, Wis. “All we do is cut and skid wood,” said Brian. “Marshal Giese buys timber on the front end and hauls on the back end. It lets us focus on cutting and skidding.”
Brian’s father, Jim, runs a Ponsse Buffalo forwarder. “It’s an awesome skidding machine, fast with an unbelievable amount of power, real easy on fuel,” said Brian. The Ponsse was purchased four years ago.
It’s not as though any one is racing, but if they were, the TimberPro 735 carrier would be a contender. “The cab leveling is designed for working in steep hills- it’s so nice,” said Brian. “It practically runs right up the hills.”
As for the choice of a fixed head, the Log Max 7000XT was selected primarily “for reason of being able to handle the bigger, uglier wood,” said Brian. “I’ve cut down trees 40-45 inches at the stump. Most people hand cut trees that big.”
That does not mean Brian is a stranger to hand cutting. Growing up on a farm, he and his father cut firewood. After college, Brian laid brick and worked on the dairy farm during the summers. About the time Jim decided to sell his cows because the price of milk dropped too low, they bought an Iron Mule forwarder and a Husqvarna chainsaw and logged during the winter months. After hand cutting for 7 years Brian had married and looked to working in the woods as a long-term profession. That’s when Jim and Brian committed to logging and formed J&B Logging LLC.
Brian and Jim generally work within a 30-minute to one-hour ride from their home base in Pound, Wis. A village with a population of approximately 380, Pound is located in Marinette County in the northeastern part of the state.
A tract for a job generally yields several hundred to 1500 cords and sometimes as many as 5,000 cords, said Brian. “We can cut a wide range of wood – firewood or pulp, bolts for pallets, logs for grade lumber. I feel you have to match the machine to the type of wood you are going to cut.” The TimberPro carrier and Log Max head are versatile enough that Brian can go from a stand of challenging rough hardwood in steep terrain to thinning a red pine plantation.
“The capabilities of the head, combined with the Log Mate 500Windows-based computer system, are very welcome,” said Brian. The Log Mate “is very user friendly.”
Working with Brian gave Pioneer Equipment the opportunity to put its philosophy to work, said Steve Ory, who co-owns the company with Dan Linsmeyer. “Brian wanted a good machine that was high production.” The TimberPro 735 and Log Max 7000XT combination fit the specification.
“Common-sense solutions” are at the foundation of the service that Pioneer Equipment provides, said Steve. “We would like to serve more people like Brian.”
Steve comes from a logging background. He logged for more than 30 years before becoming leader of the Pioneer team. “I started out riding a horse out to the woods each morning, when working with my dad,” he said. “When I was a kid, we were skidding with horses.” From there, Steve was immersed in the logging industry as it evolved through slashers, grapple skidders and cut-to-length.
Today, the Pioneer Equipment product line includes TimberPro, Log Max, Rottne and Hultdins. The full-service shop at Pioneer is run by Brian Denny, the service manager.
“Pioneer is a rapidly growing and a very strong company,” said Steve. And he is proud to be helping loggers meet their needs. For J&B Logging, it means assisting the owners and operators to be able to work efficiently in the cut and skid niche they fill for Marshal Giese Trucking.
With three Peterbilt, two Kenworth, and three Western Star tractors, as well as two Rotobec loaders on its equipment roster, Marshal Giese’s company procures and merchandizes wood, contracting for cutting of standing timber it buys on private and public land in northeast Wisconsin. Marshal also owns several dozers.
Marshal started his company in 1998 for a time-honored reason. “I always wanted to be on my own,” he said. He had experience in the industry, having worked as an employee at another logging company. Eight truck drivers work for Marshal. They haul wood throughout the northeast part of the Badger State and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Many customers are pulp mills.
Like Brian and Jim, Marshal has a background in farming. He farmed until he was 18 or 19. Marshal belongs to the Timber Producers Association of Michigan and Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Professional Loggers Association. He enjoys what he does. “I just go to a different place every day,” he said. He likes being his own boss.
The philosophy that guides Marshal in his business is to “treat everybody the way you’d like to be treated,” he said. He began relying on J&B Logging after meeting Brian who was working nearby.
Like Marshal, Brian enjoys being a business owner, including taking on all the challenges that come with being at the helm. “I learned a strong work ethic growing up on the farm,” said Brian.
“Just keep it simple,” said Brian. “You really have to persevere through the hard days and keep at it.” And there have been plenty of difficult days.
A carrier that allows for the widest span of work days in a year is a great help. The tracks on the TimberPro 735 give Brian the leveling required on uneven terrain, and low ground pressure for working in swampy areas in the winter to help protect the substrate.
“In spring, there’s enough sandy soil that we can work even when it rains,” said Brian. “We’re a really small company. We like to keep it that way.”
Brian is happy with the service he has gotten from Pioneer Forestry Equipment. “Pioneer – they’ve always been good to work with,” he said. His experience with logging dealerships has been good all around, he explained.
“I do all the maintenance” on J&B Logging equipment, said Brian. From an early age when he drove tractors on his dad’s farm and got interested in all things mechanical, he just developed the belief that an operator should be able to understand and maintain the machines he runs.
“I built my business from the ground up,” said Brian. He relishes the opportunity he had to do so. It’s an opportunity in America that should be protected and appreciated, he said.
“It’s all about team work,” said Brian, speaking specifically about J&B Logging. “We don’t get paid until the wood makes it to the landing. With a fixed head it is easier to make bigger and straighter piles in the woods, which helps to increase the forwarder’s production.”
With an acute understanding of the machine he operates, Brian thinks carefully about how equipment meshes with the whole of his business. For instance, “In the steeper hills I throw the trees to the top or bottom of the hill and cut them up there. It’s easily done with a fixed head and really increases the forwarders production. Those trees are usually bigger and taller so production for the processor is excellent anyways.” It is in the more uniform standing timber, that the best production figures are attained with a processor, he explained.
Knowledge of equipment and good working relationships have allowed Brian to keep pace with an ever-changing industry. The expertise and the quick rapport with fellow loggers have also made him a valued demonstrator of equipment.
“Mr. Jensen has been a good TimberPro customer for quite some time and we at TimberPro really appreciate having an owner/operator like Brian on our side,” said Pat Crawford, owner of TimberPro Inc. in Shawano, Wis. “Fact is TimberPro has hired him to do demonstrations at our dealer meetings and plan to continue using him. It is very important to put your best foot forward when demonstrating a machine because the first impression people have is the most lasting. Brian always makes a very good first impression.”
In his free time, Brian has a full schedule. “I love hunting and fishing and taking my girls camping. I enjoy downhill skiing [in winter] and water skiing in summer.”