ANTIGO, Wisconsin – Even though Kevin Marshall has worked in logging for about 30 years, he’s not afraid to try something new. That’s why he took a gamble last fall by investing in Eco Log forwarder, which is a now distributed in the United States by a new company, Scandinavian Forestry Equipment.
“I tried one of their forwarders, and I liked it. I really like it,” said Kevin, 47. Eco Log cut-to-length logging equipment is manufactured in Sweden.
Finding the Right Equipment Makes All the Difference
The Eco Log 574D forwarder is quick and also hauls a bigger payload, noted Kevin. “It’s more fuel efficient” than other machines, he added. “It’s definitely more operator friendly.”
Kevin purchased the machine from ATL Equipment before the dealership was acquired by Greg Porter, who is building a facility for Scandinavian Forestry Equipment in Manchester, Penn., about 20 miles south of Harrisburg. (The company also is developing a website at www.scandforestry.com and already has a Facebook page at Scandinavian Forestry Equipment.) ATL has been a dealer for Eco Log. “They’re done really good in that so far,” said Kevin.
“It’s a very quick machine,” commented Kevin. “Fast loading. Very efficient. Operator friendly, with good access in and out of the operator cab. It’s easy to get on and off,” he added.
The knuckleboom crane is very precise for loading and handling logs.
Kevin’s nephew, Tim Marshall, 20, operates the new machine. “He really likes it,” said Kevin.
Eco Log has been in business since 1965 and manufactures a wide range of harvesters, forwarders, options, and accessories. It currently offers five models of harvesters and four forwarders. Eco Log machines are powered by Volvo Penta or Mercedes-Benz engines. The company’s forwarders feature the optional CushionDrive™ system, consisting of four hydraulic cylinders, one under each corner; the system enhances operator comfort and reduces fatigue by limiting bouncing, sound and rolling.
At various times Eco Log was owned by Caterpillar and Log Max before reverting to independent ownership. (For more information about Eco Log, see the website at www.ecoforestry.com.)
The Logging Process at Marshall Logging
The company works within about a 70- mile radius of Antigo, which is in northeast Wisconsin about 35 miles northeast of Wausau. The terrain in the region is relatively flat with some gently rolling hills. Marshall Logging cuts about 80% hardwood and 20% softwood. Common hardwoods in the region include aspen, hard maple, soft maple, red maple and birch. The average job is about 40 acres.
“We usually try to keep two jobs going,” he said, “maybe three.” The cutters are working in front of the crews on each job to keep the other workers supplied with wood. Kevin buys about 80% of his timber. He also does some contract cutting for a local sawmill and sometimes a paper company.
About 80% of the company’s production is pulpwood and 20% saw logs. During the winter the company typically works on flatter, dryer ground and cuts more softwood pulpwood.
“We shoot for cutting 4,000 tons per week,” said Kevin, which is equivalent to about 132 truckloads of wood. All trucking is contracted to Marshall Trucking, a company operated by Kevin’s brother, Bruce, and a nephew, Rick.
Marshall Logging has an assortment of logging equipment and has relied primarily on three manufacturers for machines: Caterpillar, John Deere and TimberPro.
For felling, the company relies on two TimberPro track feller bunchers and a John Deere 843K wheel hot saw. The trees are processed in the woods with six Cat 550 wheel harvesters, which also are used occasionally for both felling and processing. For getting the wood out the company has three Cat 564 forwarders plus the new Eco Log 574D forwarder purchased last fall, and a John Deere 648G grapple skidder.
The company also has two bulldozers, a John Deere and a Cat and a John Deere motor grader as well as a half-dozen service trucks and a half-dozen chip vans.
For chipping Marshall Logging has a Bandit 2590 track whole tree chipper that Kevin purchased about three years ago. Tops and limbs are retrieved by the Cat forwarders and fed into the Bandit by the knuckleboom cranes on the forwarders.
The chipping operations produce biomass material that is supplied for fuel to utility plants and a paper mill. Biomass markets are stronger in the winter, noted Kevin, because some customers burn more natural gas in the summer.
Besides the logging operation, Kevin also owns Timberheads, a separate business that manufactures cut-to-length harvesting heads and felling heads. Kevin began building his own harvester heads about nine years ago. Marshall Logging currently owns and runs four of the Timberheads attachments, and Kevin has sold six more to other contractors.
Kevin developed interest in building them when Caterpillar discontinued manufacturing a cut-to-length harvester attachment. “I tried to find a better head,” said Kevin. He formed the business with the help of friends with expertise in hydraulics and engineering.
“We took a few ideas from the ones out there and made them better,” said Kevin. The Timberheads attachments are built in Wisconsin.
(For more information about Timberheads, visit www.timberheadsllc.com.)
Background and People – Logging in the Blood
Kevin Marshall grew up in Antigo in central Wisconsin and was from a logging family. He began working for his father when he graduated from high school, eventually taking over the helm of the business in 1999. His father, Harold, and Kevin’s grandfather started Marshall Logging in 1960.
When he began working for his father full-time, Kevin was felling pulpwood with a chainsaw and operating an Iron Mule skidder in a short wood operation. The company had mechanized logging equipment at the time, but Kevin believes his father “wanted to teach me a lesson” about starting from the ground-up. He worked two years like that before being assigned to operate a Fabtek processor, which he did for a few years before moving on to operate a forwarder.
Today, Marshall Logging has 14 employees, including several family members. Kevin keeps an office in his home and has two shops nearby. One shop is situated on 40 acres, and the company opened a wood yard at the site two years ago. The yard also is equipped with scales for weighing truckloads of wood.
Kevin has several other family members in the business, including a brother, Todd, another nephew, Joe Marshall, and a cousin, Randy Teal, who started with Kevin’s father and has been with the company for 35 years. “Most employees have been here for 20-plus years,” said Kevin. “They grew up around it.”
His wife, Leah, handles bookkeeping for Marshall Logging and also holds down a job as an accountant. Kevin’s daughter, Stephanie, is a chemical engineer for Kimberly- Clark, and his son, Nick, will graduate from high school this year.
It was a pretty good winter, indicated Kevin, a member of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and a certified Master Logger. “We cut a lot of timber,” he said, although prices were down somewhat. “Prices could have been better.”