TUPPER LAKE, New York —
Lizotte Logging has a new owner, but it’s a familiar face. Scott Lizotte recently acquired the business from his father, Jeannel, who decided to retire. Jeannel, 73, has a winter home in Florida, and this winter he decided to stay put the entire season there as he transitions to being a Florida ‘snow bird.’ Scott took over the business in January.
Lizotte Logging has a long history in New York’s Adirondack Mountains region, and seven years ago it began a transition to Tigercat forestry equipment. Now the company is virtually all-Tigercat equipped although it has a mixed fleet of machines for road-building.
The company is based in and has a shop with an office in Tupper Lake, a small town about 150 miles north of Albany. It is actually slightly closer to Montreal, Canada. Lake Placid, the little village that hosted the 1980 Winter Olympics, is 30 miles to the east.
Scott, 40, has worked in logging all his life. He began working for his father as a boy. He decided to stay in logging after high school and went to work for his father full-time. “Sometimes you wonder why, eh?”
Lizotte Logging has a crew of five working in the woods and also two truck drivers. Scott operates equipment and his wife, Amanda, holds down the office and handles all the business paperwork and payroll. The company’s goal is to produce 25 loads per week, but it generally produces about 25-35 loads.
The company is equipped with a Tigercat 822 track feller buncher with Tigercat hot saw, a pair of Tigercat skidders (a 630C and a newer 630D), a Tigercat 234 loader with pull-through delimber and slasher, and a Prentice 2210 loader.
For road-building work, Lizotte Logging has a Cat B4K dozer, a John Deere 672 motor grader, and a John Deere 624 front-end loader. The company does its own hauling and has a pair of Kenworth semi-tractors and a Peterbilt.
Lizotte Logging performs mostly select cuts. It does a lot of work for forest management companies as well as Finch Paper. Scott likes to work within 100 miles of the company’s shop, although sometimes they go farther out.
Lizotte Logging has been working a few years on a couple of tracts for a lumber company in the region that purchased the land. One tract is 3,000 acres, and the other, 1,600.
Scott’s company has been performing select cutting, harvesting the mature trees and leaving the smaller stems. The grade logs are delivered to the lumber company’s sawmill, and Scott buys the hardwood pulpwood and delivers it to his markets.
Right now we’re cutting mostly hardwood,” he said, including maple, cherry, birch, beech, and ash. The property also has softwood timber, notably spruce, balsam, and some white pine.
The terrain emcompasses everything from steep hillsides to swamps, where the crew can work more efficiently in the winter when the ground is frozen. “We can get into the lower land a lot better,” noted Scott, when conditions are frozen.
“We cut a lot of wood for management companies, too,” said Scott.
Finch Paper has a mill on the Hudson River about 100 miles to the south. “We’ve cut a lot of wood for them in the past,” said Scott.
Besides supplying hemlock and softwood pulpwood to Finch Paper, the company also supplies the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga. It sends some hardwood pulpwood to a Domtar mill in Canada via contract truckers.
Markets for saw logs and pulp logs have been good the past three years, noted Scott. “A couple of summers ago the pulp markets were tight,” he said, and the company was on quota, but markets have improved since then for saw logs and pulpwood.
His father has done business many years with C.J. Logging Equipment in Boonville, New York, which is about an 80-mile drive southeast, a little more than half-way to Syracuse.
Lizotte Logging bought its first Tigercat machine, a 630C skidder, in 2012 following the New York State Woodsmen’s Field Days, a regional logging trade event in Boonville.
The decision to invest in the Tigercat skidder came with a decision to get out of cut-to-length logging. The company had a larger crew for tree-length logging in the past, then changed over to cut-to-length logging. The cut-to-length crew used a harvester, forwarder, and a loader at the landing.
The pulp mill it supplied at the time was taking 24-foot logs. However, when the mill went back to buying 8-foot pulpwood, Lizotte Logging couldn’t produce enough to make it economically viable.
At that point Scott and his father decided to trade in their forwarder for a new skidder. C.J. Logging Equipment arranged a demonstration for the Tigercat machine, and Scott and his father also considered a couple of other manufacturers. “The Tigercat out-performed them all,” recalled Scott.
“One of the main reasons we went to Tigercat…was CJ Logging Equipment,” said Scott. “They were a big reason, for the help they could provide us. They’ve always been good on parts and service.”
“They’ve been a good company,” he said of the dealership.
CJ Logging Equipment is a family owned and operated company that has been serving the forest industry since 1981. With its original location in Boonville, New York, it has expanded to Little Valley, New York, Wheelock, Vermont, and Allenwood, Pennsylvania and serves loggers in the Northeast.
It’s been a good marriage with C.J. Logging Equipment and Tigercat, noted Scott. “Tigercat makes very good quality machines,” he said. “They are well built. Between the machines…and the dealer also, it’s been really good for us.”
The most recent Tigercat addition was the 822D feller buncher, which the company bought in June 2018. Scott and his father looked at the machine at C.J. Logging Equipment’s exhibition at the Northeastern Forest Products Equipment Exposition in Essex Junction, Vermont. After the trade show they arranged a demonstration and also looked at another manufacturer’s machine before deciding on the Tigercat.
“The operator liked it a lot better,” said Scott. The Tigercat machine was faster and more productive than another brand, he said. “I feel that Tigercat’s the best quality,” he added.
Logs are skidded to the landing, where both loaders are set up. Scott normally operates the Tigercat loader, delimbing trees for saw logs and bucking them to length. The other loader is used for delimbing and bucking the pulp logs.
The slash at the landing is accumulated and picked up by the grapple skidders and returned to the woods to create a mat on the skid trails to prevent rutting. “It makes for a nice bed,” said Scott.
Scott and employees participate in logger education programs and safety training sponsored by the Empire State Forest Products Association.
Scott normally leaves the shop around 6 a.m. to head to a job. The crew normally calls it a day at 4 p.m. “Me? You never know.” Scott may end up working past 4, maybe even as late as 9. “It depends on what happens during the day.”
In his spare time Scott enjoys spending time with Amanda and their two children, a daughter, 9, and a son, 6. They take the children camping on occasion. The children also like to visit Scott at the shop and go for rides with him in his truck.
It’s been a long winter, noted Scott, who was taking some time off in Florida at the time he was interviewed for this article. It started in November and is still cold in the region, he noted. “Usually we get a pretty good thaw in the winter,” said Scott. “This year we didn’t have one…It’s been cold right through.” In fact, he and his family left to drive to Florida on a Saturday, and it snowed the night before.
His father obviously has been a very important figure in his life, noted Scott. “I wouldn’t have any of this if it wasn’t for him.”
“He helped me a lot with everything over the years,” he added. “I’d like to keep the business going.”