CRANDON, Wisconsin –
Matt Jensen, the owner of Whitetail Logging, could not be more firmly committed to logging. Cordial yet direct, Matt has a deep knowledge of the industry. He served as president of the American Loggers Council in 2011 and currently is on the organization’s board of directors. He also currently serves as vice president of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association.
Matt is equally committed to sound land and timber management, a commitment that dovetails with a passion of his — hunting.
His company is based in Crandon, which is located in northeast Wisconsin, about 110 miles northwest of Green Bay. Crandon is a town of about 2,000 people. Located in Forest County, it is surrounded by the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The region is predominantly mixed hardwoods.
“I’m a third-generation logger,” said Matt. After graduating from high school in 1983, he worked in construction for a few years; he also studied forestry. Following the path his father and grandfather had taken seemed a good fit. “Just growing up in the forest and wanting to have a profession in the outdoors” made logging a good choice, said Matt.
In 1987, Matt and his father, Pete Jensen, established Whitetail Logging. In 2003, son and father were among the first in Wisconsin to attain Master Logger certification. Pete has since retired.
Matt bids on timber sales on national forest land, and he also gets referrals from private landowners for whom he works. He has plenty of work lined up. “We’ve been very fortunate,” said Matt.
Most jobs for Whitetail Logging are within a 50-mile radius of Crandon. The company works on both private land and federal land. When he was interviewed for this article, Matt was doing clean-up and salvage logging on a large forest tract that suffered severe damage from a tornado.
Whitetail Logging performs cut-to-length logging with two machines; the business is small — Matt and two employees. The company is all about service to customers, too. “We’re a small forestry company,” acknowledged Matt. “Our niche is small landowners and hunters. My niche is using my love of hunting (to improve the land).”
Hunting is foundational to Matt’s outlook on logging. “I’m a very, very avid hunter,” he said. He travels to some Western states to bow hunt big game.
Matt offers services to consult with foresters to write management plans for landowners and to mark timber for harvesting. Land and timber management can improve habitat for wildlife and create more diversity for more varieties of wildlife. Matt’s services include developing food plots, openings and corridors to benefit wildlife on a landowner’s property. His company can also construct roads and ponds to improve properties where those improvements are permitted.
When Matt needs a new piece of equipment, he assesses many variables at once. Aiming to buy a new forwarder, he looked to Scandinavian Forestry Equipment, which is headquartered in Manchester, Penn., and has a location in Rhinelander, Wis.
“The first thing that drew me to them is they always have parts,” Matt said of Scandinavian Forestry Equipment. “And they have really good service and people.”
When we spoke with Matt in early January, he had recently purchased an Eco Log 574 eight-wheel forwarder from Scandinvavian Forestry Equipment. Mike Carter, one of Matt’s two employees, was operating the new Eco Log 574.
As for the performance of the Eco Log 574, Matt said that it is “absolutely” meeting expectations. “We’re thrilled with the machine,” he added.
Scandinavian Forestry Equipment is the U.S. distributor for Eco Log, which is headquartered in Sweden. Eco Log specializes in making forestry equipment that allows the operator to adjust to meet varied and often tough ground conditions
Eco Log machines trace their ancestry to the Spider machine, given that name because the wheeled carrier was mounted on pendulum-like arms that could be adjusted hydraulically for greater flexibility to operate on uneven and sloped terrain. It’s a stand-alone company now (Spider Excavators) although it has been owned by other entities (e.g., Caterpillar, Log Max.)
Matt’s new Eco Log forwarder is part of the E-series. The Eco Log E-series forwarders incorporate a redesigned cab that puts a priority on three things: space, visibility and comfort.
The Eco Log E Series forwarders are powered by a Volvo Penta D8 engine, which provides plenty of power while offering fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. The control system is an IQAN MD4, which has a 7-inch touch screen. Options for the Eco Log E series forwarder include utility blades and brush guard.
The high-quality service that Matt gets from Scandinavian Forestry Equipment begins with the company’s strategy to build a business plan around customers. The company chose Manchester, Pennsylvania, for its headquarters because it is close to the Port of Baltimore, where the machines are imported. That speeds both access to arriving machines and delivery to customers.
On job sites, the new Eco Log forwarder works in tandem with a Komatsu 931.2 harvester. The Komatsu is equipped with a Komatsu S132 harvester head, which Matt explained is actually a Log Max 6000 head. (The arrangement between Komatsu and Log Max allows the Log Max harvester attachments to be re-labeled and re-numbered.)
Choosing the Log Max 6000 for the Komatsu 931.2 was an easy decision, said Matt. That’s thanks to his experiences talking with loggers across the country through his leadership roles with the American Loggers Council.
“Log Max heads are all over the United States,” noted Matt. “In all, I’ve never heard a negative word about Log Max. Dependable, they work every day, they’re easy to work on.”
Matt operates the Komatsu 931.2 harvester. A chainsaw is rarely needed, but when it is, Husqvarna has long been Matt’s choice.
Matt bought the Komatsu 931.2 harvester two years ago from Roland Machinery Sales in Escanaba, Mich. “This is the third Komatsu rubber-tired harvester we’ve had,” he said.
Over the years Matt has had many Komatsu and Valmet cut-to-length logging machines, and he’s been very happy with them.
Matt’s company owns several logging trailers made by Great Lakes Manufacturing in Suring, Wis. The Eco Log forwarder loads the trailers, and they are picked up with semi-tractors by trucking contractors and hauled to their destinations. Using trucking contractors to pull his trailers is a bit unusual, acknowledged Matt, but it is a good approach for his company.
The Eco Log 574 forwarder has good power and reach, noted Matt. That makes it easy for the forwarder operator to load the trailers. Yet the forwarder is relatively light – an important consideration when minimizing ground impact is a priority.
Reducing impacts to the soil is just one component of an approach geared to keeping forests healthy. Another component is encouraging the diversity of fauna that not only live in and among the trees, but also contribute to the health of the trees.
“I’ve been involved in the professional side of the (forest) industry though organizations,” said Matt. “I’m passionate about forest management.” The dimensions of forest management are many, he explained. “Do things in the right way. Defend the good people in the forest industry.”
Scandinavian Forestry Equipment is also all about getting the right fit for customers. In addition to distributing Eco Log rubber tire harvesters and forwarders, Scandinavian Forestry Equipment also distributes JPS saw systems, Cranab cranes and grapples, and Eltec track feller bunchers. Beside the dealership in Rhinelander, Scandinavian Forestry Equipment has two more in the Great Lakes region, two in the Northeast, and one in the West. For more information about Scandinavian Forestry Equipment and its product lines, visit www.scandforestry.com
Scandinavian Forestry Equipment strives to exceed customer expectations. That philosophy is mirrored at Whitetail Logging. The team at Scandinavian Forestry Equipment has more than 80 years of experience in the forest industry. It’s a good match for the more than 70 years of experience built into White Logging through Matt and Pete.
Pete started cutting wood on his father’s farm in Marinette County. He served in the Army and worked in Chicago before returning to logging. The experiences Pete brought to Whitetail Logging were broad and deep. They include skidding logs with horses, felling timber by hand with a chainsaw, and operating a forwarder after the move to cut-to-length logging.
Matt’s experiences are also expansive. Besides working in construction, he delivered and installed hardwood staircases around the country. With his understanding of the scope of the industry from timber harvesting to the wood products that emerge through secondary manufacturing, Matt has an especially profound connection to logging. That is also reflected by his service in professional organizations.
Matt is wholly enthusiastic about logging and the future of the industry. He arrives at his optimism through experience. “Pay attention to the customer,” he said. “Do professional work — professional, ethical, forest management — and you’ll never be short of work.”
Matt is particularly happy that he can carry on his work without leaving a region he loves. He grew up in Wabeno, a community near Crandon.
Whitetail Logging is a participant in Log-a-Load for Children Foundation, which raises money for children’s hospitals.
The commitment to his profession comes through loud and clear in everything Matt tells us about it, but he emphasized the point. “I’m very content and happy with my occupation,” said Matt. “I was born and raised in rural America. I was taught work ethic. I love my job. I look forward to coming to work every day. I feel really blessed to really enjoy what I do.”