NEW CANADA, Maine – It’s a long day for Braydon Paradis on the logging job he is on right now. He wakes up at his home in northern Maine at 3:30. The job is almost 100 miles south, a two-hour drive. He works 10 hours, operating his new Eco Log 594F forwarder from Scandinavian Forestry Equipment. By the time he gets home, it’s about 7 p.m.
It’s even a longer day for the Eco Log machine because Braydon has a fellow who works for him, and his employee works a night shift, operating the forwarder another 10 hours. In fact, on jobs that are closer to home, they operate the machine in two 12-hour shifts.
Braydon usually puts about 4,000 hours per year on a forwarder. He is expecting good performance from the Eco Log, which he has owned for about a month when he talked to TimberLine. “I don’t see anything going wrong,” he said. “I have a lot of faith in Eco Log.” The brand has been used successfully in Wisconsin and elsewhere, he noted.
Braydon lived near Syracuse when he was young, moving to Maine when he was 12. At 29, he already has been in business for himself for 10 years. His home is in New Canada in the northernmost part of Maine in Aroostook County. It is less than 10 miles to Fort Kent, which is on the St. John River, the Canadian border.
Braydon is a contractor – B. Paradis & Son Logging – who only does forwarding. He started working with an old John Deere skidder before moving on to get a Rottne forwarder, working on private land for LandVest, a company with real estate and timberland operations.
Braydon has been a contractor for Irving Woodlands for about two years. He had sold the Rottne. When he heard that Irving was looking to hire a forwarder contractor, he pursued the opportunity. He contracted to work for them and bought a Ponsse Buffalo King forwarder from Irving.
Irving Woodlands is a division of Canadian-based J.D. Irving, which has operations in the Canada and the U.S. and business units in agriculture, consumer products, transportation and logistics, shipbuilding and industrial fabrication, retail and distribution, and more. The forestry business unit prefers to contract individual owner-operators instead of larger contractors who are equipped and staffed for all phases of timber harvesting operations.
Irving, which buys stumpage as well as timberland, requires contractors to work so many hours per week. It is “a very good company to work for,” said Braydon. He has been working for them for about two years.
“They help you out to get started,” he added, by financing an equipment purchase for the first three months. Another benefit of working for Irving is that the contractors are paid every week even if their logs have not been delivered to a mill. Braydon and other contractors go on an Irving website and enter in their volume for the week and are paid.
Before contracting to work for Irving, Braydon had always worked alone. His employee, Walker Thornton, has been working for Braydon for over a year. Braydon was riding around in the woods when he met Walker by happenstance, and Braydon asked him if he would like to work for him at night.
They normally work 12-hour shifts, but since the current job is so far away for Braydon, the men are working 10 hours each shift. It’s a shorter commute for Walker, who only lives about 45 minutes away from the job.
After 18 months of working for Irving, Braydon decided to upgrade to a different forwarder.
He researched manufacturers online and Eco Log – manufactured in Sweden – caught his eye. The Eco Log 594F was a 20-ton machine, while his Ponsse was rated to carry 18 tons.
The Eco Log website steered him to Scandinavian Forestry Equipment, which distributes the brand in the U.S., and to Timber Equipment Sales, its dealer representative in Washington, just over 20 miles west of Maine’s capital of Augusta, which puts it roughly in the middle of the state’s coastal region. Timber Equipment Sales is owned and operated by Nick Fortune.
Braydon called Nick, and the two men ended up flying to Scandinavian Forestry Equipment’s other dealership in Wisconsin so Braydon could look at Eco Log forwarders.
Braydon was impressed with the design and layout of the Eco Log 594F operator cab and the design of the bunk. “It has a Volvo engine,” he noted, “which I like.” He also was impressed by Scandinavian Forestry Equipment’s commitment to parts availability.
He also connected with Nick. Besides operating an equipment dealership, Nick has a logging business and an excavation-construction business. “That’s why I like dealing with him a lot,” said Braydon. “Because he understands the woods.” Other sales reps “want to sell a machine,” he added. “They don’t understand the business part of it I guess.”
Nick’s dealership, located about four hours away, but Braydon frequently works south of New Canada, in a region where he is only about two hours from the dealership.
The Eco Log 594F forwarder is one of the latest F-series of Eco Log forwarders. It is powered by a 6 cylinder Stage V Volvo Penta engine that generates 320 hp. The Volvo Penta engines are known for their high reliability, efficient performance, quick response, and environmental friendliness. Engine radiators are optimized for Stage V. The machine’s gear box increases tractive effort, improving performance on difficult terrain.
The grill conveniently opens to the side, making it easier to clean the radiator; the engine hood is electrically operated for easy access and servicing. The spacious cab has been designed and equipped for operator comfort. It provides excellent visibility and a clear view to enable the operator to work efficiently.
Scandinavian Forestry Equipment distributes and sells equipment for forestry and construction operations. The company’s staff has more than 80 years of combined experience in the forest products industry. Its headquarters and distribution center in Manchester, Pennsylvania is strategically located a short distance from the Port of Baltimore for short ocean freight lead times and efficient shipping.
Scandinavian Forestry Equipment represents a diverse range of manufacturers of forestry and construction equipment. In addition to representing Eco Log, it is a dealer for Eltec log loaders, Log Max, Quadco and Southstar forestry attachments, Cranab cranes and Hultdins grapples, Fecon mulching equipment, and more. For construction applications, the company also offers motor graders, excavators, backhoes, wheel loaders, and more.
(For more information about Scandinavian Forestry Equipment, visit www.scandforestry.com.)
The Eco Log 594 is the first new machine Braydon has bought. “Eco Log is the quietest machine,” he said. “It’s very comfortable. You don’t hear a lot of noise. The cab is very spacious, and the crane has unbelievable power. The tractive force is great, and it’s very fuel efficient.”
His forwarder is equipped with Clark Tracks forestry machine tracks, which improve traction and flotation, reducing ground pressure and disturbance.
Nick, 34, has been a logging contractor for 10 years and has worked in logging since he was in his late teens, so he actually has about 15 years of experience. He runs his company’s feller buncher. The trees are processed by another machine and then forwarded to a landing. The company also has a pair of logging trucks and hauls wood for other loggers.
Nick had considered setting up an equipment dealership in the past. “An opportunity came up to work with SFE, so I took it.” He had been buying parts and some supplies from Scandinavian Forestry Equipment and developed a relationship with owner and president Greg Porter. When the topic of opening up a SFE dealership in Maine came up in conversation, “I jumped at the opportunity,” said Nick. His dealership territory is Maine, New Hampshire, and parts of Vermont and Massachusetts. His stepson, Austin Owen, also works in the dealership.
Greg is “very down to earth,” said Nick. “He’s very easy to talk with and deal with. He answers his phone. You can talk to him whenever you need. You don’t get that with other large equipment dealerships. The accessibility to be able to talk to the guy in charge, it’s really good with him. You just don’t get it anywhere else.”
Timber Equipment Sales has three contract mechanics with service trucks. The dealership also is backed up by Scandinavian Forestry Equipment’s commitment to parts availability. At the company’s headquarters and distribution center in Manchester, Pennsylvania, and its other dealership in Wausau, Wisconsin, it has about $2 million worth of parts in inventory, according to Nick.
“We have just as good mechanics capacity as any other forestry equipment dealer and the same or better for parts availability,” said Nick. “Greg is really serious about selling this equipment and supporting it.”
“I know what it is to have a machine and not have good support,” said Nick. “I will not sell someone something that I cannot support.”
Does being a logger give him an advantage when it comes to representing Scandinavian Forestry Equipment? “Absolutely,” said Nick. “Compared to other dealers and salesmen, I have a knowledge of the business that they just don’t have. I can relate to loggers. I know what they’re talking about. I know where they’re coming from. I don’t think that can be matched.”
Irving jobs normally are on tracts of 100 acres. Braydon moves to a different area about twice a month. His current job contains a lot of softwood that will be milled into studs. The area is almost at the end of the northernmost reach of I-95.
Six contractors with cut-to-length harvesters are busy cutting the trees and processing them, and Braydon and four other contractors go behind them with forwarders to get the wood out. The operations go around the clock. There are “quite a few” John Deere harvesters on the job and a Tigercat machine with a Ponsse H8 head. Other forwarders working on the same tract include John Deere 1910, Komatsu 895, and Ponsse Elephant King models.
Softwood saw logs from the current job are supplied to Irving stud mill in Ashland, and hardwood logs to another Irving sawmill in Ashland. Hardwood pulpwood goes to a paper mill in Woodland. Softwood pulpwood is bound for a train to be shipped to Canada.
Walker has about five or six years of experience operating forwarders. “He’s a very good guy,” said Braydon. To operate a night shift with another employee, you want someone who is reliable and dependable, he noted, and self-motivated with a good work ethic. In addition, Walker is “not rough on the machine” and “likes to keep it clean.”
Together they average getting out 1,500-2,000 tons of wood per week with the forwarder.
“We did a test load,” recalled Braydon, filling the forwarder with as much softwood stud logs as it could hold. The load was weighed when the truck delivered it to the mill. The logs totaled 37 tons.
During the winter months, Braydon will grease the machine each day at lunch time; during the summer, he will do it at the start of his shift. He performs other preventative maintenance as needed on Sundays.
The ground at the current job is covered with about 3 feet of snow. “It’s starting to thaw out,” said Braydon. “We’ve got another three weeks,” he added, before mud season. As the snow melts and ground conditions are wet, he will be idle for about 6-8 weeks, but he’ll use that time to perform additional routine service on the machine to prepare it for spring and summer.
Braydon’s wife, Megan, does all the paperwork and bookkeeping for the business, working from an office in their home. They have two children, Liam, 8, and Lena, 7.
Asked what he likes to do in his spare time, Braydon said, “Winters are tough out here. We just work. In summer time we enjoy going to the lake.” He has a boat for nearby Eagle Lake and enjoys spending time with his family there.