KENTON, Michigan — Woodland Equipment hosted a demonstration of Tigercat cut-to-length equipment on the Michigan Upper Peninsula. The event, attended by a few hundred loggers, showcased the partnership between the dealer and manufacturer and new fixed head harvester attachment as well as a new harvester head that is under development.
The event drew 200-300 loggers over two days. Loggers came from the Upper Peninsula, Lower Michigan, Wisconsin, and as far away as Pennsylvania.
Ron Beauchamp, owner of Woodland Equipment, was pleased with the turnout and response. “The guys who showed up were serious,” he said. “They weren’t just kicking tires.” In fact, some loggers who attended on Friday were so impressed that they returned the next day with other employees from their company. “We got really strong feedback,” said Ron. The focus was on Tigercat cut-to-length systems; the Canadian manufacturer also makes a complete line of tree-length timber harvesting equipment.
The demo featured a Tigercat H822D track harvester with a 575 harvester head, a Tigercat 822D track harvester with a 570 fixed harvesting head, a Tigercat 1165 wheel harvester with a prototype 534 harvester attachment, and a Tigercat 1055C forwarder.
The 822D is owned by Nordine Land Management, and one of the owners, Mark Nordine, operated it. Tigercat representative Gary McDonald operated the H822D. K.J. Jolliff, a local logger, operated the 1165 and his brother, Collin, operated the 1055C forwarder.
Woodland Equipment has represented Tigercat since 2016. Since then, Tigercat has worked with Ron to develop products for his market. “Tigercat has been very responsive,” he said, to ideas for equipment solutions for customers. “We have a very strong relationship with them.” By the same token, Ron has introduced Tigercat to a new market. “Tigercat and Woodland Equipment have done a lot together to get established in this market,” he said.
Tigercat’s machines are “really impressive,” said Ron. Nevertheless, not every logger wants to be the first in their region to try a new brand, particularly for cut-to-length machines, which are a hefty capital investment.
It has taken a few years, and Ron has made a significant investment in effort and resources to help establish the brand in the region, but Tigercat now has traction in the Great Lakes. “We’re starting to reach the part of the marketing curve where the machines are proving themselves.”
Woodland Equipment represents Tigercat throughout Michigan – with locations on both the Upper Peninsula (Iron River) and Lower Peninsula (Gaylord) – and also about 90 percent of Wisconsin.
Ron had the idea for the demo and solidified the dates while attending the Great Lakes Logging & Heavy Equipment Expo in Escanaba, Michigan, in September and talking to customers and other loggers there as well as Tigercat personnel. His idea was for a demo focused on cut-to-length machines and exhibiting and demonstrating several different harvesters and attachments so customers and prospects could get a good look at several Tigercat options at one event. “These guys are taking time out of their schedules, and I wanted to make it worthwhile for them,” said Ron.
His plan was to run the demo in a stand of hardwood. “Our customers want to see how machines will handle big hardwood – big, crotchety hardwood, so we wanted to show that.”
He turned to the Nordines, who recently purchased a Tigercat 822 track harvester with Tigercat’s new 570 fixed harvesting attachment. Tigercat worked with Woodland Equipment to develop the new 570 for the Nordines and other loggers who prefer a fixed head.
“They were working on a job in the Upper Peninsula that had the kind of wood we were looking for,” said Ron, “20-inch-plus maple. They were gracious enough to let us use their job for this demo.”
The 570 fixed harvesting head was developed for loggers in the Great Lakes region and Northeast who prefer a fixed head over a typical dangle harvester head for working in large hardwood, noted Jon Cooper, Tigercat’s vice president of engineering for cut-to-length products. Loggers also prefer a fixed attachment in conditions that require precise control of the tree, such as working near power lines or doing a select cut, where the logger wants to minimize damage to the residual stand. The 570 fixed harvesting head is based on the Tigercat 570 attachment, which has been in production for about five years.
“A lot of loggers have transitioned from feller-bunchers (with heads that swivel or rotate) to fixed harvester heads,” observed Jon, “and are more familiar with that method compared to a dangle head.” Fixed harvester heads are intended for use on track machines, he noted.
The largest concentration of fixed harvesting heads is located in his market, according to Ron. He was appreciative of the fact that Tigercat developed the fixed harvesting head for his region even though it is only a small segment of the overall market. “They had 70 active engineering projects, and they made this a priority.”
Tigercat has been manufacturing cut-to-length forestry equipment for two decades, noted Jon, after acquiring the assets of a Swedish company in 2000. Tigercat now offers two wheel harvesters, the 1185 and 1165, both available as 6-wheel or 8-wheel carriers. It also offers six track harvesters – essentially three models with three versions that have leveling capability to work in steep terrain. The company offers several harvester attachments: the 568, 570, 570 fixed head, and 575. Tigercat harvester heads excel, said Ron. “There is no comparison over time.”
The Tigercat 1165 wheel harvester, although relatively new, has been well received. The company has shipped machines around the world, including Scotland, Sweden, Russia, and countries in South America. “It’s worked out to be a good product for us,” said Jon. “And it fits very well in the Great Lakes states.”
Tigercat is “very excited” about its development of the 534 harvester head, said Jon, which is a good match for the 1165 carrier; in fact, the attachment was designed specifically for use with the 1165 harvester. The 534 is being designed as “an all-around head for select cutting and clear cutting,” said Jon. Tigercat is not releasing technical information about the harvester attachment yet since it is in prototype form and still under development.
The terrain where the demo was held was relatively flat with some sloping ground. The stand was mainly maple with some hemlock. The demo was conducted on 50-60 acres of a 600-acre tract owned by the Nordines. The tract had been thinned 10-20 years earlier, and the Nordines came back to remove the mature trees. They were doing a select cut and harvesting maple 20-inches in diameter and larger and hemlock up to 30 inches on the stump.
Mark Nordine has told Ron that with his new Tigercat harvester and the 570 fixed harvesting head, he is felling, handling and processing trees he could never have done in the past because of their size. Now he regularly can harvest and process bigger timber.
Equipment demonstrations are an integral part of Ron’s marketing efforts. He strives to hold fall and spring demos in each of the three geographic areas – Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, and Lower Michigan. He also conducts individual demos for qualified loggers.
Tigercat is a privately held business that is dedicated to quality. “That fits what I was looking for,” said Ron. Built with a North American design, the machines are known for their durability and longevity. “They’re very well engineered, and Tigercat provides strong support,” said Ron. “These machines are easy to service because they are engineered well.”
Although Tigercat markets its equipment as being of premium quality, and the purchase price may be higher, the company maintains that its machines enable loggers to operate at the lowest cost per ton of processed wood at the roadside.
The purchase price gap between Tigercat and other manufacturers has narrowed in recent years, noted Ron. Several factors contribute to Tigercat’s leadership position in lowest cost per ton. One is significant fuel economy. “We’re going to be the most fuel efficient,” said Ron, and the difference is substantial. “The cost savings on fuel consumption alone usually make the price differential negligible within the first couple of years.” Using figures provided to him by a logger, a Tigercat machine with its Tier 4 engine could save him about $25,000 annually in fuel, according to Ron.
Another factor that contributes to low cost per ton is the durability and longevity of the machines. “The life cycle is usually four years or more,” said Ron. “These machines are built to run 20,000, 30,000 hours, not 10,000. If you get an extra year or two on the life cycle, that’s a cost savings. Plus, they have higher resale value.”
Durability also means loggers save on parts. Ron knows that by his dealership’s experience. “We’re not selling a lot of parts,” he said.
Although durability and longevity take time to demonstrate, “Most guys can see it the way they are built,” said Ron.
Ron’s initial interest in representing Tigercat dovetailed with a need for the manufacturer. “With a void in Tigercat’s distribution in this area of the U.S., we welcomed Ron’s interest,” noted Kevin Selby, Tigercat’s sales manager for the U.S. The early discussions with Ron “were obviously quite positive,” and now Woodland Equipment has blossomed into a successful dealer and enabled Tigercat to establish a footprint in the region.
“It helps with them being geographically close to Tigercat,” noted Kevin. Tigercat’s headquarters and manufacturing facilities are located in southern Ontario, between Toronto and Detroit, which makes the Great Lakes region accessible, particularly Lower Michigan.
“That has helped build the relationship,” he added. The fact that Tigercat’s operations are within driving distance has made it possible for Tigercat engineers and support staff to make trips to the region as well as Woodland Equipment customers to visit Tigercat facilities. “It’s been convenient,” said Kevin.
A good portion of U.S. loggers who use cut-to-length systems are located in the Great Lakes region, he observed. “Having a place where we can work with a dealer and customers is certainly beneficial for our engineers and developers,” noted Kevin. “It’s just a good recipe.”
“Ron has increased the Tigercat footprint and knowledge to customers in the region,” said Kevin, “and now he is gaining momentum. Now that the seeds have been planted, we look forward to a growing relationship with Ron and his customers.”
“They’re a good group,” said Jon, “and we’re happy to have them as a dealer and a partner, which is why we’re sending things like the new harvester head their way.”
Woodland Equipment has represented TimberPro until recently and continues to represent several manufacturers of forestry attachments: Log Max, Risley, and Kesla. Tigercat has become his leading brand “by far,” said Ron, who opened his second dealership location, in Lower Michigan, in 2017.
“Tigercat is very quality focused, and they’re very genuine,” said Ron. “They back up what they do.”
“They’ve been very good to us,” added Ron. “They act as partners, and they’re very responsive. I think very highly of them.”
(For more information on Woodland Equipment and its product lines, visit www.WoodlandEquipment.com or call (906) 265-9904. For more information about Tigercat equipment, visit www.tigercat.com.)