In recent months, TimberWest has profiled several Washington companies: Barnes and Sons Logging in Lewis County, Swanson Bark and Wood Products in Longview, Precision Forestry in Arlington-Darrington and Cascade H & A in Snohomish County.
Reading their stories, it’s clear that the industry is about hard work, commitment, camaraderie, innovation and teamwork with other forestry companies.
There is also a unique amount of gumption required, as TimberWest wrote in its profile of Barnes and Sons.
For well over 150 years, the West Coast forest industry has been, in good times and bad, an attraction to free enterprise entrepreneurs seeking opportunity. Even in times of economic stress, like those faced in recent years, there are those willing to take a risk and approach a challenge in a new way. They “go for it” — establishing the new businesses needed to preserve the future of the industry.
An example of optimism and entrepreneurial spirit in 2014 is Lewis County’s Barnes and Sons Logging LLC, a newly formed company that logs tracts defined by the Forest Service as being at the urban public forest lands interface or “Forests at the Edge.”
Swanson Bark and Wood, a wood recycler, has thrived because it’s never content to rest on its laurels.
Swanson has shown itself to be an innovator with staying power. By way of example, Swanson recently partnered with Rooflite, the only FLL Certified Green Roof Growing Media available in North America. Rooflite, manufactured with material from Swanson’s plant, has been successfully used on a variety of projects including a 12,000 square foot roof in Tacoma on the Center for Urban Waters building and a 26-story building in downtown Seattle.
Swanson is also looking to expand its market reach. In 2010, the firm added a rail spur to its Longview facility to increase its capability to ship product throughout the United States.
Expanding, even in a down economy, Swanson Bark and Wood Products is positioning itself as a national leader in the use, reuse, and repurposing of wood.
Cascade H & A, which builds logging roads, cultivates long-standing relationships.
Cascade H & A, does the road work for companies who bid on Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) timber sales, and they do repeat work for Sierra Pacific Industries, Hampton Tree Farms, Hancock Forest Management, Pilchuck Tree Farm and, and Weyerhaeuser, which now owns Longivew Timber.
Amberson likes working for the bigger companies, and of these landowners, it has been Pilchuck Tree Farm that Cascade H & A has worked with the longest. Amberson says that the tree farm logs 250 to 300 acres each year, which keeps one crew busy with road work and maintenance, and brush stacking. He appreciates Pilchuck as being “hands-on forestry.”
During the course of a year, Amberson estimates that their company builds 15 to 18 miles of road a year, give or take a mile, mostly all brand-new construction, though they do some reconstruction work. A request for a bridge or two comes along once or every other year. Depending upon the job, the roads may be temporary, as is the case for many on DNR land, or permanent on private lands such as Pilchuck Tree Farm.
Forestry is also a family affair, as seen with Precision Logging, and a job often done with tremendous love and passion.
Along with listening to the stories and learning from the experience of other folks in the industry, (33-year-old company owner Blair Stadin) is active with Washington Contract Loggers Association and Hoo-Hoo. His company also has a Facebook page, which he credits for helping him connect with others in the industry.
In the future, he sees Precision Forestry possibly branching out into cable logging or into trucking, but even with this expansion, Stadin expects to stay small. “I don’t want to change. Why change something that’s working?”
He also sees his company becoming more of a family affair, with his wife eventually taking over the books when Bonnie retires, and his son likely joining. His son’s interest reassures Stadin that the younger generation is considering logging as a career. And having read articles that tell of the environmental groups and timber industry starting to see more eye to eye, he feels good about the future.
Stadin recognizes how unusual it is for someone his age to be an owner of a logging company, but he believes he and his company have earned the respect of his colleagues. And youth has its benefits. At the 2013 Deming Logging Show, he and Todd Covey earned the title of Best of Show Load of Logs and Best Load of Doubles.
“Even if I win the lottery,” says Stadin, “I would still be here on Monday.”