LAND O’LAKES, Wisconsin — Mark and Jason Nordine recently took ownership of a new Tigercat track harvester for their logging business. Thanks in part to their efforts, other loggers in the Great Lakes will be able to get a new control fall (fixed) head harvesting attachment that was developed by Tigercat for the Nordines, a project made possible by Tigercat’s dealer in the region, Woodland Equipment.
Mark and Jason operate Nordine Land Management, based in Land O’ Lakes, a small town of less than 900 people that is located on the northern edge of Wisconsin right next to the state line of the Michigan Upper Peninsula. To the north and east is the Ottawa National Forest, and to the west is the Chequamegon National Forest. Mark lives in Michigan, and Jason lives in Wisconsin. Their business is a Michigan corporation.
Mark, 40, and Jason, 42, earned bachelor degrees in forestry from Michigan Technological University, originally planning to become foresters. They wanted to stay in the Land O’Lakes area, so they began to consider logging. They had worked in their father’s logging business and also for their maternal grandfather, who operated a sawmill. Their paternal grandfather also operated a sawmill.
They joined their father, Jim, who transitioned into cut-to-length logging in 2003, leaving behind the work of felling timber by hand with chainsaws. The change enabled the Nordines to reduce workers’ compensation insurance premiums since mechanized logging is so much safer, noted Mark.
Jim retired to drive a truck for the company part-time just two years later, and Mark and Jason bought the harvester he had at the time and invested in a new forwarder to go along with it. Jim retired completely about five years ago and is 81.
In addition to operating the two machines, the men divide up other tasks. Mark generally has more responsibility for overseeing and maintaining the equipment while Jason handles more of the paperwork and administrative duties.
Beside their new Tigercat 822D track harvester, which is paired with the new Tigercat HC570 harvester attachment, the company is equipped with a Komatsu 855.1 forwarder. The Nordines also have a Komatsu D51 dozer and a Cat 320 excavator for building roads, a log truck, two semi-tractors, and two crib trailers.
The company has two other employees, Phillip Paulick and Tylor Harten, truck drivers. “We’re fortunate to have two good guys working for us who are very dependable,” said Jason. “We’re happy to have them.”
Nordine Land Management buys standing timber. The Nordines merchandize the wood, selling and supplying logs to mills that make paper, lumber, flooring and other products. About 70 percent of their production is pulpwood — hardwood and aspen — that is supplied to a paper mill. The remainder is saw logs and bolts. They average 15-20 loads of wood per week.
Most logging jobs are close, within a 40-mile radius of Land O’ Lakes and usually to the north and east of the town. That puts them in the western part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The average haul to the mills they supply is 80-100 miles.
Markets have been stable this year, they said. The demand for wood and quotas are “better this year than last year,” said Jason. “We’re able to get rid of all our production. Last year was kind of tough in that respect.”
The Nordines will buy timber on tracts as small as 20 acres and up to a few hundred acres. A typical job is 40-80 acres.
Hardwoods predominate in the region; about 60 percent of their production is hardwood, 20 percent pine, and 20 percent aspen. “We’ve been cutting more pine the last few years because of favorable markets,” said Mark.
“Hopefully the markets will stick around,” he added.
Tigercat developed the new fixed head harvester attachment for Woodland’s market and at the request of the Nordines. “The Tigercat HC570 harvester attachment is the first one of its kind,” noted Mark.
“We told them we would buy the head if they made it. It wouldn’t have happened without the guys at Woodland Equipment.”
“We’ve been with Woodland Equipment a long time,” noted Jason. They have relied on Woodland Equipment for the 16 years they have been in business, and their father did business with Woodland Equipment for 20 years previously.
“We like doing business with them,” said Mark. “They’ve always treated us fair, and they’re always dependable.”
Last year they decided to replace their harvester machine and attachment. However, the attachment — a Risley Equipment Rolly head — was no longer available because Risley went out of business.
“We didn’t know what direction to go,” said Mark. “We started brainstorming with people, and this is how it happened. Our sales rep at Woodland was an intricate part of it.”
The brothers initially were thinking of a different brand and harvester attachment, but Ron Beauchamp, owner of Woodland Equipment, had a Tigercat H822D and wanted to demonstrate it for them. It was demonstrated with a dangle head harvester attachment.
“Everything looked like it was built really well,” said Mark, but the brothers preferred a fixed harvester attachment for greater control in felling.
“We cut a lot of property that’s been in families for multiple generations,” said Mark. They do a lot of select cuts and thins, leaving trees in various age classes regenerating and growing. “It’s important that we lay the tree down where we want to,” said Mark, so that residual trees are not damaged. “It’s important to get the tree down in the correct spot. Dangle heads don’t have that kind of full control.”
The harvester attachment the Nordines received with their new harvester is the first production unit of the new Tigercat HC570, a fixed head attachment.
Woodland Equipment represented Risley Equipment — which made fixed head harvester attachments — until the manufacturer went out of business. “We started lobbying Tigercat to build a control felling head or fixed harvester attachment,” said Ron, “because some of our customers prefer them.”
“The Nordines were perfect candidates for this,” said Ron. “They have been a partnership customer for decades. They are very detail-oriented, and we knew they would give this head a thorough workout.”
The Nordines signed a purchase order with Woodland Equipment in December 2020, and Tigercat began the project of designing and building the new attachment the following month. “Tigercat worked in partnership with us,” said Ron. “There were design reviews and regular updates that included the Nordines.”
“We lobbied Tigercat to build this head because our customers wanted it,” said Ron. “Tigercat has a strong history with many examples of listening to customers and building what they want. They delivered for us with the HC570.”
The Nordines received the new Tigercat equipment in July. It is the first Tigercat machine the Nordines have owned. When they were interviewed by TimberLine, they had been operating the machine for about two weeks. Mark operates the company’s harvester, and Jason, the forwarder.
“What I like about the machine is it is very easy on the ground,” said Mark. “It really doesn’t mark up the ground nearly as much” as their previous harvester. “We were concerned when we ordered it because it’s heavier, but it’s amazing how light of a footprint it makes on the landscape.”
“It’s quiet and easier on fuel than our previous harvester,” added Jason.
At the time the Nordines were working in hardwood saw timber, performing a select thin on 600 acres in fairly flat terrain. About 80 percent of the trees were hard maple averaging 18 inches in diameter.
“It’s got plenty of power,” said Mark, who was still getting acclimated to the different control system for the harvester attachment, “and the swing is real fast…The rotation on the head is more powerful.”
“The new head exceeded my expectations,” said Ron. “The frame construction, head layout, service and access points, the big pins and hose routing – it’s all well thought out. It’s one thing to see pictures. It’s something else to actually see the head work.”
“The H822D carrier and the new HC570 harvester head are stable and powerful, and they give you strong head feed strength and delimbing power. We will put the Tigercat HC570 up against any control fall head in our market. It is a beast.”
The Tigercat HC570 harvester head combines some of the features of the Tigercat 570 attachment — which the company has manufactured for more than 10 years — with the 340-degree rotation ability of Tigercat track feller bunchers. Both are proven technologies with heavy-duty construction known for their high level of performance.
The harvester attachment features 1000 cc drive motors for the ¾-inch pitch main saw and top saw — the top saw can be an optional .404 pitch — and pass-through hose routing on the boom tip. “The saw motors are fast!” said Ron.
The Tigercat HC570 harvester attachment is a durable, high performance head with two-wheel drive and three knife arms. It is specifically designed to match the high performance capabilities of Tigercat carriers.
With its independent knife arms, the HC570 harvesting head excels in tough timber with large limbs and poor stem form. Independent knife and wheel arms improve stem contact, which provides superior feeding, delimbing, measuring and debarking. It is equipped with larger diameter hoses and larger capacity valves than similar class heads to match the greater hydraulic flow and power of Tigercat harvester carriers. It is a robust design with high quality components for high duty cycle and durable life.
“Tigercat builds for strength and durability,” said Ron, “which is critical in our heavy, limby wood.”
Woodland Equipment will exhibit the same machine as the Nordines — a Tigercat 822D track harvester with the new Tigercat HC570 harvester attachment — at the Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo in Escanaba, Michigan, Sept 9-11. Woodland Equipment also will exhibit a brand new Tigercat head for the Tigercat 1165 wheeled harvester.
The Tigercat H822D harvester is a track machine, purpose-built for forestry work. Purpose-built engineering offers performance and durability advantages over excavator conversions. Durable construction starts with the Tigercat-built forest duty undercarriage and large diameter swing bearing. The upper assembly is built on a thick, one-piece turntable.
The harvester is powered by a Tigercat FPT Tier 2 or Tier 4f N67 engine. (The Tier 4f engine conforms to the latest emissions standards in North America.) The engine is powerful, efficient, clean, and is fully supported by Tigercat. The engine is paired with a high capacity cooling system featuring an automatic variable speed fan for improved fuel efficiency; the fan has an automatic reversing cycle to get rid of dust and debris.
The Tigercat ER boom system is highly productive and efficient in high cycle, small stem harvesting applications. The combination of high horsepower and harvester head optimized hydraulics gives the operator responsive control, quick feed speed and powerful delimbing capability for high performance and productivity. The ER boom technology improves fuel efficiency, reduces operator fatigue and increases productivity.
The upgraded cabin is large, comfortable and highly ergonomic with excellent sight lines — to the head and to the right-hand side. The large front-entry cab has a floor to ceiling windshield with side door access to an expansive area behind the seat. The machine is designed with excellent access to daily service points for routine maintenance tasks.
Tigercat, based in Canada, is a leading manufacturer of premium forestry equipment and offers machines for both tree-length and cut-to-length logging. It’s product line includes wheel and track feller bunchers, wheel and track harvesters, skidders, loaders, forwarders, shovel loggers, processors, and more. The company’s manufacturing facilities are in southern Ontario.
(For more information on Tigercat, which offers a complete line of purpose-built forestry machines, and its product line, visit www.tigercat.com.)
Woodland Equipment has been in business for more than 40 years. Ron acquired the business from his father in 2014. He has expanded the business, adding new lines of equipment and a second location. Woodland Equipment became a dealer for Tigercat in 2016, serving all of Michigan and 90 percent of Wisconsin.
Woodland Equipment has two locations to serve loggers in the Great Lakes region. Its original location is in Iron River, Michigan on the Upper Peninsula, and its other location is in Gaylor, Michigan, on the Lower Peninsula.
Woodland Equipment also represents TimberPro logging equipment as well as several manufacturers of felling heads and processing attachments: Log Max, Quadco, and Kesla.
(For more information on Woodland Equipment and its product lines, visit www.WoodlandEquipment.com or call (906) 265-9904 for the Iron River location.)
Like other cut-to-length loggers, the Nordines take the logging slash – limbs and top – and lay it in front of the harvester to create a mat road for the machines. The practice helps preserve the forest floor. At the same time, it breaks up the slash to help it decompose and return nutrients to the soil.
Nordine Land Management is a member of the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and the Michigan Association of Timbermen.
With their forestry education, the Nordines are able to give their clients recommendations about forest management, pest control, and other issues related to their timber land. The fact that they are fourth generation loggers and both have forestry degrees “really separates us a lot,” said Mark.
“We’re not ones to brag about ourselves, but we do a nice neat job all the time,” said Mark. “And we have plenty of work because of our reputation.”
“We’re honest and we do a good job,” added Jason. Both men enjoy hunting and fishing in their free time.