REMSEN, New York — Opportunity knocked, and Peter Stone and Matt Edwards stepped through the door, adding logging operations to their excavation contracting business in upstate New York.
Since then, opportunity knocked again, and they have expanded to two logging crews partnering with CJ Logging Equipment for two new Tigercat cut-to-length logging machines.
Peter, 57, is the owner of PEMS Tool & Machine Inc. in Little Falls, N.Y., a business he has operated for about 30 years. He launched another business, ALX Hunter Excavation Inc., about 10 years and later hired Matt, 43, to be the general manager of the new company.
ALX Hunter, a member of the Empire State Forest Products Association, has its offices in Little Falls, which is roughly half-way between Albany and Syracuse, and a shop in Remsen, about 35 miles northwest. The excavation business has 12 employees.
The company’s logging operations are equipped with a mixed fleet of forestry machines. The most recent additions are a Tigercat 1185 wheel harvester and a Tigercat 1085 forwarder purchased from CJ Logging Equipment a year ago.
Matt recommended adding logging operations because he saw a need in the market. He had some contacts with a mill, and they needed a logger.
At the same time, “We stumbled on a deal, a set of machines someone wanted to get rid of.” The TimberPro 735 harvester, equipped with a Log Max 7000XT cut-to-length harvester attachment, and the TimberPro 830 forwarder were 2015 machines — late models, low hours, and available at good prices.
Matt put together a business plan. They obtained a contract to supply wood to various mills, bought the machines and started the logging operations. Matt began operating the TimberPro harvester while still overseeing ALX Hunter.
Matt has an extensive background in both logging and excavating work. He grew up on a family farm where he helped cut firewood, and he helped uncles who had woodlots, so he has used a chainsaw since boyhood. He began logging for a living at age 18, felling by hand and skidding his logs for a select cut crew for a local family-owned sawmill. He began operating excavating equipment, too, working on excavation jobs in the warm weather and logging in the winter, working both as an employee and as a subcontractor at various times.
He gained plenty of experience, and it was during this period that he bought the 1988 Cat 518 cable skidder. On excavation jobs, he would oversee projects and run excavators, bulldozers, backhoes, graders, drum trucks, and other equipment. On logging jobs, he worked with small crews that did all felling and bucking by hand with chain saws and operated skidders to get the logs to a landing.
When 3B needed more logging capacity, Matt and Peter decided to expand the logging operations, adding a second crew and the two Tigercat machines. “We saw the need, and we saw the fit,” said Matt.
When it comes time to buying equipment, Matt shops markets “far and wide” and monitors auctions closely. Going forward, the company will invest in new harvesters and forwarders as needed while relying on purchases of used skidders.
Matt said he was attracted to the Tigercat 1185 eight-wheel harvester because of “the efficiency of the machine,” which, he noted, is the largest wheel harvester in the industry.
“In our application…we cut a lot of big wood. It has tremendous reach.” In fact, the harvester’s reach is so far that in larger thinnings the machine can fell and process 25-30 percent more timber from one location compared to other harvesters, noted Matt. That saves a great deal of additional driving and maneuvering the machine through the woods in order to reach timber.
That reduction in driving the machine through the stand contributes to greater fuel economy, too. In fact, fuel consumption is half of other harvesters, said Matt.
“It’s a very efficient machine, and it seemed to be a good fit for us,” said Matt. “We went to Washington to see one.”
The Tigercat 1185 also is “extremely balanced,” said Matt, and has leveling capability.
Matt carefully scrutinized the capabilities and performance metrics of different harvesters and determined Tigercat was the most efficient before making a buying decision. “I researched everything on the market. Every brand, everything. Nobody had anything that could compare.”
The Tigercat 1185 is a 37-ton wheel harvester designed for high production applications, extreme terrain and demanding operating conditions. It is a premium eight-wheel drive harvester with powerful lift capacity. The Tigercat 1185 combines high performance with excellent fuel efficiency through the use of an advanced hydraulic system. Dedicated pumps power the drive, harvesting head, crane, fan and cooling circuit functions; the closed loop drive system provides excellent performance on steep slopes.
Powered by a Tigercat 308 hp engine with Tier 2 or Tier 4f emissions compliance, the 1185 features a high-capacity cooling system with a hydraulically driven, automatic variable speed fan with automatic reversing cycle. The harvester has excellent access to major components and daily service points.
The Tigercat 1185 is equipped with the WideRange® drive system. The infinitely variable speed hydrostatic transmission increases working travel speed while delivering extremely powerful tractive effort for high performance in steep terrain. Tigercat-built bogie axles are hydraulically balanced and designed for extreme duty.
The powerful Tigercat crane with ER technology provides high efficiency, and the hooked crane profile offers excellent visibility. The standard crane has a reach of 26-29 feet; the optional crane with telescopic stick has a reach of 36 feet.
The operator cab, with two exits, is pressurized, insulated, and isolation mounted with constant temperature air conditioning and heat, and window blinds. It features a computerized machine monitoring system. Outfitted for comfort and convenience with an air ride seat with fully adjustable lumbar support, features include AM/FM digital stereo with CD player, Bluetooth audio and hands-free calling, and rearview camera.
The harvester is equipped with the Tigercat 570 attachment, a durable, high performance, two-wheel drive, three-knife arm harvesting head that is specifically designed to match the high performance capabilities of Tigercat carriers.
With headquarters in Brantford, Ontario, Tigercat operates from 10 southern Ontario locations. These facilities house the design and production teams for all Tigercat products as well as steel fabrication, administration, customer service and parts distribution. A large parts distribution and training center is located in Ailey, Georgia, to serve loggers in the Southern U.S.
The company’s line of premium forestry equipment includes drive-to-tree and track feller bunchers, skidders, loaders, track and wheel harvesters, forwarders, felling heads and harvester heads, and more.
(For more information on Tigercat or to locate a dealer, visit www.tigercat.com.)
Although Matt neither owned nor operated Tigercat machines previously, he was very familiar with the brand and had observed them working on other jobs. “Finest in the world for logging,” he said.
He and Peter also visited the Tigercat factory in early 2018. “Very impressive,” said Matt. “Extremely impressed.”
Both Tigercat machines have lived up to his expectations, said Matt. “Exceeded them in many ways,” he added.
CJ Logging Equipment sales representative Chad Bourgeois has been very responsive whenever the company has needed technical assistance. “He’s a jack of all geniuses I call him,” said Matt.
“Everything goes through Chad. He collects the information, and if he needs to, he goes to Tigercat for product support.”
CJ Logging Equipment has been serving the logging industry since 1981. The family-owned and operated business began in Boonville, New York, and has expanded to additional locations in New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont to serve loggers in the Northeast.
The company represents Tigercat, TimberPro, Komatsu, LBX, CSI, Quadco, and other forestry equipment manufacturers. The dealership offers both new and used equipment, and its inventory of used machines includes loaders, skidders, feller bunchers, hot saws, trailers, and more. CJ Logging Equipment recently was appointed as the Northeast distributor for Great Lakes trailers.
(For more information, visit www.cjloggingequipment.com or call 1-800-541-4214.)
In recent years, beside buying the two Tigercat machines, the company also purchased a used skidder and tractor-trailer from CJ Logging Equipment. The dealership also represents Link-Belt Excavators, and Matt is looking at investing in one of them.
Besides Matt’s Cat 518 cable skidder, the crews are equipped with a Cat 525 grapple skidder, a Prentice 2432 grapple skidder, and two loaders — a Volvo 250 excavator set up as a loader, and Hood 2400 knuckleboom loader mounted on an old all-wheel drive military surplus truck. The logging unit also has two small whole-tree chippers, a Morbark 16 and a Vermeer 2100.
“Our main line of work…is softwood production,” said Matt. Red pine and scotch pine are used exclusively for the utility poles, and spruce and white pine for lumber. Matt also buys stumpage on some private woodlots and bids on state timber sales.
The two crews together produce about 160 loads of wood per month. The grapple skidders are used to skid the pole logs out of the woods, and the forwarders are used to move the pulp and saw logs to the landing. Slash is used to cover and protect areas of soft ground as well as to create paths for the harvesting and forwarding equipment.
The company harvests all the wood on a given tract of timber that 3B Timber has purchased and delivers it to 3B Timber and its markets.
ALX Hunter has one truck, so the two companies hire trucking contractors to haul most of the wood.
The excavation operations do site preparation work for a myriad of projects. “You name it,” said Matt. They include new manufacturing facilities, cell phone towers, roads, underground infrastructure for water and sewer projects, and bridges.
The company focuses on doing excavation and site preparation work in the spring, summer, and fall, when weather conditions are favorable, and ramping up logging in the winter. Most jobs, for excavation and logging, are within a 2-hour drive.
Matt tries to keep the two logging crews working near each other as much as possible. “It’s ideal, but it’s not very common,” he said. All crew members hold logger training certification, a requirement to harvest timber on state forest land.
The terrain in the region is mixed. It can range from sandy soils to mud, from flat ground to steep, rocky ground.
Most stands are mixed with hardwoods and a variety of softwoods. Although red pine is the dominant species the company harvests for 3B Timber, other common species are spruce, white pine, sugar maple, red maple, ash, cherry, beech, and yellow birch. Further south there is more red oak and larch. “We see it all,” said Matt.”
Winters have been tough for logging in recent years, indicated Matt, because they haven’t been cold enough to freeze the surface adequately.
Markets for hardwood saw logs are down but those for softwood are “decent,” reported Matt. Markets for hardwood and softwood pulpwood are good, he said.
“The chip market in our region right now is absolutely terrible,” said Matt. The chippers normally would be used on land-clearing jobs. When markets are good, chips can be supplied to fuel pellet or paper mills.
Matt is married with five children. “That keeps me pretty busy with their sports,” he said. The family has a camp in the Adirondacks, and Matt enjoys deer hunting when he can get away.
The machine shop business keeps Peter pretty occupied. The company makes components for the aerospace industry, among others.
Matt keeps pretty busy, working as much as 80 hours a week, he estimated. He operates the Tigercat 1185 harvester plus oversees the other logging crew and the excavation work.
Despite that hectic schedule, “It’s not that difficult,” he said. Operating the harvester two or three days a week produces enough wood to keep the forwarder busy for five or six days, so on the days he’s not operating the harvester he can travel to the excavation jobs and also work on preparing estimates and other tasks.
“I keep everything going,” said Matt.