New York Lumber Company Buoyed By Solid Market for Ash Export Logs

Bass Lumber Has Come to Rely on CJ Logging Equipment and Tigercat for Its Two Logging Crews

Bass Lumber uses a Tigercat 2160 loader forwarder to sort logs in the mill yard and to load export containers with logs. Todd Bass says the machine is ‘probably the best thing I ever bought’ because of its versatility.
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FISHS EDDY, New York – Russell Bass & Sons Lumber got along with a small logging crew for a long time, hiring other logging contractors to harvest stumpage, too, and buying ‘gate’ logs. In recent years, though, it added a second crew as it has been riding the rising tide of the export market for ash logs. At about the same time it began to turn to CJ Logging Equipment to purchase Tigercat machines.

Bass Lumber employs 33 people in its operations, including six loggers. At the sawmill in Fishs Eddy the company also has a pallet shop, garage, filing room, and three lumber sheds. The mill cuts an average of about 15,000 board feet of hardwood per day.

Bass Lumber sells all its production rough green. It sells to numerous wholesalers as well as directly to end users, such as cabinet makers and flooring manufacturers – about half to concentration yards and half to end users.

The mill is located in Fishs Eddy, about 50 miles southeast of Binghamton, near where the straight border that separates New York and Pennsylvania turns southeast, following the west branch of the Delaware River.

“We’re in the Catskills,” said Todd Bass, in the middle of the mountain range, and the terrain is steep. “We have a lot of good ground, but a lot of mountains.”

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The dominant trees in the region “depends on where you are,” he said. They include hard maple, red oak, cherry, and ash. Soft maple and birch “grows in spots.”

Bass Lumber was started by Todd’s great-grandfather Philo Bass, in the 1940s. Philo’s sons, Raymond and Donald, eventually took over the business, and Todd’s father, Russell, took the helm in 1984. Today, Russell, Todd, and Todd’s brother, Shane, are partners in the business. Although Russell, 71, continues to come to the office every morning and occasionally delivers lumber or runs a slasher saw, Todd and Shane assumed day-to-day management about seven years ago. Todd’s son, Lane, and Shane’s son, Evan, are both very involved in the business, too, working in the mill. Shane also has two step-sons who have some involvement: Ryan Smith is a teacher who helps out in the mill during summer vacation, and Matt Smith is a logging contractor who cuts his own jobs and also subcontracts to Bass Lumber.

Tigercat 610E grapple skidder, with a hitch of logs and working on muddy ground, is the newest logging machine purchased by Bass Lumber. CJ Logging Equipment delivered the machine for a try-out. ‘Everybody loved it,’ says Todd Bass. ‘All the crew loved it.’Tigercat 610E grapple skidder, with a hitch of logs and working on muddy ground, is the newest logging machine purchased by Bass Lumber. CJ Logging Equipment delivered the machine for a try-out. ‘Everybody loved it,’ says Todd Bass. ‘All the crew loved it.’

The mill is equipped with a Cleereman carriage and HMC band mill and an HMC resaw, trimmer and chop saw. In recent years the company invested in a new Nicholson ring debarker as the export market for logs heated up. The company has been selling about 75,000 board feet of export logs per week; the market has been driven by demand for ash and the availability of ash timber due to infestation by the emerald ash borer in recent years. Bass Lumber is in the process of developing a new sawmill.

Bass Lumber has had its own logging crews since Todd’s father began logging in 1973. (Russell bought the mill from his father in 1984.) It was a three-man crew for 30 years – one man felling trees by hand with a chainsaw, another man who cleared roads with a bulldozer and bunched the trees for the skidder, and another who operated the skidder.

When the market for ash began to pick up about seven years ago, they invested in a Tigercat feller buncher from CJ Logging Equipment, and then a second Tigercat feller buncher. “We decided we would be riding the wave with the ash market, and see what happens after that,” said Todd.

One crew is equipped with a Tigercat 830 track feller buncher, which has leveling capability, a Tigercat 610 skidder, and – the newest machine – a Tigercat 250 track loader with a circular slasher saw. The other crew has a Tigercat 822 track feller buncher, a Tigercat 604 cable skidder, a John Deere 648 grapple skidder, and a Barko 495 loader on a rough terrain carrier. Each crew also has a John Deere 650K dozer for building roads.

Bass Lumber has been partnering with CJ Logging Equipment for buying logging machines for about seven years. “They’re a family-owned business,” noted Todd. “They want to help any way they can. They’re just good people, very easy to deal with.”

When he bought his first Tigercat machine from CJ Logging Equipment, Todd acknowledged the dealership was 2 hours away. He was somewhat hesitant that the dealer could deliver prompt service, and he told them that was one of his concerns. CJ Logging Equipment has delivered on that commitment, he indicated. “They’ve been very good as far as service, very good. That means a lot.”

That first machine he bought from CJ Logging Equipment was a Tigercat 610 grapple skidder. At the time, Bass Lumber had a skidder, but it was too small. “We were looking for a bigger grapple skidder,” recalled Todd. They tried another brand but didn’t like it. CJ Logging Equipment delivered the Tigercat 610 to try out. “Everybody loved it,” said Todd.

“All the crew ran it.”

From left, Zach Tator, Todd Bass, Noah Bass, Lane Bass, Russell Bass, Shane Bass, Evan Bass, Harold Swartwout, and loader forwarder operator Tom Kravetsky. Bass Lumber employs two logging crews.

“We ran with Tigercat then and there,” said Todd. “I’ve been buying Tigercat ever since.”

The performance of the Tigercat brand has been “very good,” said Todd. “We’ve been happy with all of the machinery.” The Tigercat 2160 loader forwarder is “probably the best thing I ever bought,” he said, because the multipurpose machine saves work in other areas.

CJ Logging Equipment Inc., headquartered in Boonville, New York, has been serving loggers in the Northeast for more than 40 years. It represents Tigercat, TimberPro, Komatsu (formerly Timbco), Hood, Link Belt Forestry, Delfab, Rotobec, CSI, and Great Lakes Manufacturing.

The equipment company has grown in recent years, opening three other locations, including one in Pennsylvania. The newest location, in Fremont, New Hampshire, positioned the company to serve loggers throughout New England in addition to the other Northeastern states, New York and Pennsylvania.

CJ Logging Equipment has service personnel stationed at its locations. It also has service technicians located strategically throughout its service area who are dispatched from their home and are equipped with service trucks in order to assist customers in the field.

CJ Logging Equipment is a family business led by Mark Bourgeois and his wife, Linda. Their two sons, Chad and Aaron, also work in the business.

“As a family-owned and managed company, we specialize in building relationships with customers,” said Mark, “and earning their trust. Our customers are our top priority. We go the extra mile to provide the dependability they deserve.”

(For more information about CJ Logging Equipment or the manufacturers
it represents, visit the company’s website at or call 1-800 541-4214.)

Tigercat, with manufacturing facilities in southern Ontario, specializes in equipment for forestry applications and machines designed specifically for severe duty, off-road logging and harvesting jobs like track loggers, material handlers, and wheel harvesters. It offers both tree-length and cut-to-length options for timber harvesting.

(For more information about Tigercat equipment, visit

In the past Bass Lumber always used bar saw slashers to buck trees. “The main reason we bought the Tigercat (track) landing loader,” said Todd, “was because we wanted to try the circle saw slasher. It’s so much faster. You can cut a lot of wood with it in a day.”

Sometimes, notably with low-grade wood, like firewood logs, the machine stacks multiple stems in the slasher and cuts them all at the same time.

“We top everything in the woods,” said Todd. The Tigercat feller bunchers are paired with Quadco 2900 intermittent saw heads. “They work great for felling, delimbing, and topping,” said Todd. The feller buncher processes the trees on the ground to tree-length and can form them in piles for the skidder.

The company invested in a Tigercat 2160 loader forwarder four years ago. “It’s been a huge asset to what we’ve been doing with export logs,” said Todd. “It’s been a great machine for us.” The machine, which Evan has been operating for four years, is used to sort logs in the mill yard and to load export containers.

Todd, 51, worked in the mill as a boy and later worked on the logging crew, filling in at the mill from time to time. He spends most of his time scouting timber and overseeing the logging crews. He runs a loader once in a while or hauls logs, and he also spends some time at the mill. Shane oversees the sawmill and scales logs and sells lumber.

A typical tract or job is hard to define. “It varies so much,” said Todd. In recent years the company has been fortunate to be harvesting timber on two tracts owned by hunt clubs close to the sawmill that are a combined 4,000 acres. “We don’t have to move so much,” noted Todd. The company has been cutting both tracts, harvesting the ash and other hardwood.

A typical timber sale may be about 100,000 board feet, or 50-100 acres. “That’s a pretty good sale,” said Todd, who just hired a full-time forester and a forester-log scaler. He buys timber on private land, dealing with six foresters to get most of the wood the company needs.

The logging employees receive New York state logger training. The two crews normally work on separate jobs. Each crew produces about 15 loads per week plus about five loads of firewood. Todd occasionally will sell surplus logs to other mills. On a big tract, particularly in winter, the crews will work on the same job.

When Todd talked with TimberLine, both crews were working on hunt club property salvaging ash timber. He expected both crews to be there for a few weeks. The Tigercat 830 feller buncher was working on steep terrain.

Beside the company’s two logging crews, it hires three logging contractors to harvest stumpage Bass Lumber has purchased. Logging accounts for about 70 percent of the company’s raw material, and the remaining 30 percent consists of ‘gate logs’ purchased from other contractors.

Beside debarking logs at the mill on a Nicholson ring debarker for the company’s own lumber production, they debark additional logs for customers of other logging contractors and log yards and load shipping containers for them. “We’re really big into debarking,” noted Todd.

The company purchased an old sawmill with 10 acres in nearby Cadosia three years ago, although initially Todd and Shane were not sure what they would do with the property.

Eventually they decided to build a new mill on the site, and it is in progress. The Fishs Eddy mill is old, noted Todd. “The new saws are unbelievable,” he said. There wasn’t enough room on the existing mill site to upgrade, and a project of that type would have required shutting down the mill for some time, so the brothers decided to build a new mill from scratch.The old mill was demolished. The roof on the new 100×200 building was recently finished.

They hope to begin debarking logs on a new Nicholson debarker by November and to do debarking at both sites, but the new mill will not be operational until the spring of 2025.

Bass Lumber has ordered a Cleereman carriage and Lumber Pro double-cut band mill and a Cleereman optimized edger. All decks and material handling equipment will be supplied by Mellott Mfg., which also will provide a drop-saw trimmer. When the new mill is ready, the company’s HMC resaw, which is only three years old, will be removed and installed in the new mill. Todd and Shane also are considering adding drying operations at the new mill.

Todd is not sure yet what will become of the old mill, although the company will continue to make use of the yard, where the firewood operations are conducted. The company is in the process of scaling up its firewood operations. “We’re getting big into firewood,” said Todd.

He invested in a Multitek 3040XP2 firewood processor, the largest model offered by Multitek. Evan is taking on a bigger role in the company’s firewood operations. Lane also is involved in firewood production but mainly runs the company’s Tigercat 830 track feller buncher.

In addition to the Multitek firewood processor, the company has two Kiln-Direct firewood kilns on the site and has ordered four more. “We think this business (kiln-dried firewood) is really going to take off,” said Todd. Although the company has cut and split firewood in the past, it only recently has added kiln-drying of firewood.

Firewood is something “most mills don’t get involved” with, noted Todd. However, that part of the business will keep a five-man crew busy filling orders.

Bass Lumber used to sell tree-length firewood logs to a firewood business that kiln-dried its production. However, the firewood company had difficulty obtaining enough raw material. Bass Lumber purchased the accounts to take over the business. Bass Lumber just began its kiln-drying operations a few weeks ago.

Pallets are just a small segment of the business. The company sorts out appropriate boards at the mill, and three men assemble the heavy-duty pallets by hand in a separate shop.

Bass Lumber is part of Bass Enterprises. Another business unit sells bluestone flagstone, and the pallets are used for storing and shipping flagstone. The other businesses include a golf course, hotel, cabins, and a convenience store with a gas station.

Lumber markets are very challenging. “Thankfully, ash is still moving okay,” said Todd. “We have to hope the market stays until we cut it all.”

Todd’s sons enjoy racing dirt bikes. “That keeps us pretty busy,” he said, in his free time. Another son, Noah, 15, helps out in the mill in the summer. “He’ll be involved in the business some day, I hope,” said Todd.

Todd and Shane are active in a local church, Sherman Bible Chapel.

According to Todd, work is more than a vocation for both of them. “My hobby is to work,” said Todd. I look forward to going to work every day. I just love this business. It’s my brother’s hobby, too. Dad must love it, too, because he’s here every day.”