MANOR, Georgia – Why not? It’s a question that inspires innovation. When James Stovall, the president of B&M Wood Products, Inc. asked it – first of himself and then of others – the result was a harvesting head and carrier configuration precisely suited to his needs.
In short, James wanted to put a Log Max® 5000 head on a Barko 495ML loader. He already knew both Log Max heads and Barko loaders well for efficiency and productivity.
To get the fit he wanted, James relied on Knight Forestry in Whigham, Ga. In turn, Knight Forestry reached out via Log Max to Tom Hirt, the Log Max regional sales representative for the Southeast United States (and part of Texas), as well as the owner of FSK Equipment in McKinney, Texas, to get his opinion of James’ idea.
“We were very interested,” said Tom. Although James had purchased his 2012 Log Max 5000 head directly from Log Max in Vancouver, Wash., Tom was eager to help. “My focus always has been you evolve and understand the needs of the customer. [Loggers] sometimes need a good sounding board.”
James’ idea made sense, said Tom. “He’s quite innovative. This size processing head should be able to work on a knuckle-boom loader.”
For a time, James had used his Log Max mounted on an excavator. But he envisioned a better fit with a Barko 495ML used as the carrier. Barko offers both trailer (truck) mount and crawler versions of its model 495ML. The Barko 495ML is designed for productivity and fuel efficiency.
Ultimately, James got exactly the configuration he wanted with the help of Knight Forestry, where he had purchased the Barko 495ML. “[Knight] had to modify the machine for us to be able to mount the Log Max on it,” said James.
“Barko did a lot of the valving,” explained Jason Knight, the president of Knight Forestry, emphasizing the collaborative effort on the part of manufacturers and vendors to make it possible to move James’ idea from concept to reality. Barko is headquartered in Superior, Wisc.
“We worked with Log Max and the factory,” said Jason. And in October 2013, James had in use the Log Max harvesting head mounted on the Barko.
Results of the pairing were noticed quickly. “After about a month, [James] came to us and said his production was up about 50 percent,” explained Jason.
At the landing, B&M is using the Log Max harvesting head to process and to load. Jason explained that James has a superb operator who is able to get the full range of movement out of the combination.
With the Log Max 5000 and Barko 495ML, there is the option of taking off the Log Max and putting on a grapple. “It’s definitely got quick capability,” said Jason.
The willingness of Knight Forestry to make the necessary modifications so that the Barko could carry the Log Max was important to James. He wanted the Log Max head to cut and process the slash and longleaf pine that B&M harvests and mills.
“The Log Max head is easy to work on and almost trouble free,” said James. “We get good production with it. The service manager at Log Max helps us work on it when we do have a problem.”
Because it is a low-weight head, the Log Max 5000 can be installed on a variety of carriers. It is designed to be versatile and suitable for harvesting that ranges from thinning to medium final cut. The head is controlled by the Log Mate® computer from Log Max, a computer with the capability to do much more (through its Windows-based operating system) than the basics of friction control and four-point measuring.
Log Max offers single-grip harvesting and processing heads in a range of sizes. It aims to provide customers with the head that best matches the species and sizes of trees being harvested.
Among the features that enhance the reliability of performance in the Log Max 5000 are strategically placed guards and covers to protect internal components and hoses. In addition, the Log Max 5000 has high-performance saw hydraulics that ensure full flow to the bottom saw in order to allow fast cutting.
B&M Wood Products, Inc. has been in business for 41 years. James bought the company from a previous owner in 1974. “I was interested in owning my own business and talked the previous owner into selling me the business,” he explained. “I have always been interested in owning my own business.”
Eighteen employees work at B&M. The company manufactures a number of products and treats them with CCA (chromated copper arsenate) and creosote. Products include creosote boards, fence posts, timbers and barn poles. Ninety percent of the product is pressure treated and all pressure treating is done on site.
“We produce 30 truckloads of product per week,” said James. B&M both cuts and saws, procuring standing timber from both public and private sources.
In addition to the Log Max 5000 on the Barko 495ML, the loggers at B&M rely on a Tigercat skidder, a John Deere disc saw buncher and a John Deere loader. “We use about 40 percent of the wood at our mill and we sell the remainder to nearby mills,” said James.
Logging crews generally stay within a 40-mile radius of the Manor, Georgia home of B&M Wood Products. Manor is part of Ware County in the southeastern part of the Peach Tree State. The unincorporated town has a population of approximately 800. Manor is actually part of the metropolitan Waycross, Ga. area, a region that produces honey and pecans we all enjoy.
B&M does approximately half its own trucking with the remainder being handled by contractors. “We like International trucks,” said James. “Our trailers are made by Big John.”
James gave us a basic rundown on his sawmill: “We have a peeling mill. We use a Valone Kone debarker and a homemade peeler to peel posts. We peel 3000 posts per day. The wood is brought in and we cut into desired lengths with three chop saws. We have an automatic grading system designed by Ace Electronics in Valdosta, Georgia. We also have a Morbark pole peeler that we use to peel medium-sized poles. The pole mill makes 400 poles per day.”
The finished product from B&M is sold to feed and seed dealers, big chain stores, orchard growers and farmers. “We try to keep our customers satisfied by making a quality product at a good price,” said James.
The culmination in a quality product begins with trusted equipment, such as the Log Max 5000. “Our operator loves our setup and the performance of the Log Max head,” said James. “It is easy to work on and there isn’t that much that can go wrong with it. We have little downtime with it.”
James values the relationships he has with vendors. Knight Forestry, Log Max and Barko share some common traits, he said. “[They] give good service, are easy to talk to, and are very willing to help you out with any problem.”
Good experience has turned into long-term relationships. “We have dealt with Knight Forestry for 15 years and have bought several loaders and other equipment from them,” said James.
Knight Forestry takes service as seriously as it does sales. “We’re very service oriented,” said Jason. “We service all brands in the East.”
To get to loggers quickly, Knight Forestry has a small fleet of boom and service trucks. Jason grew up in logging and still is involved in a sister company, Mid-South Timber Company, that logs. He and his colleagues at Knight Forestry understand that downtime is something loggers cannot afford.
“I’ve been in this all my life,” said Jason of being part of the logging industry. “My dad started in equipment sales in the 1970s.”
Jason and James first became acquainted when James was looking for loaders. “We sold him several Barko loaders over the years,” said Jason.
Like Jason, Tom is interested in doing all he can to help loggers make choices that sustain and fortify their businesses. He is also a veteran of the industry who has been in the field since 1977 – and whose expertise has carried him on consulting jobs to parts of Europe and Mexico.
“There’s no consistent job,” said Tom. “There are so many little variables from substrate to employees to buyers. I help [loggers] evaluate what they can do better.”
For his part, James first and foremost wants to keep his company strong. “I try to work hard and reinvest profits back into the company in order to stay competitive,” said James.
As for being a member of the wood products industry, James is very happy with the choice he made. “I enjoy the people I work with,” he said. “Folks in the wood business are hard to beat.”
James belongs to the Treated Wood Counsel and the Southern Wood Producers Association.
Outside leading B&M Wood Products, James has some specific interests. “I like to relax and spend time in the woods or traveling to other countries,” he said.