Three new Logset machines within one year
It has rained two inches (about 5 cm) earlier in the morning. Therefore, the gravel road is still wet and muddy. Our pick-up truck is headed to a 70-acre thinning site close to Marquette in Michigan, US. We are on our way to see Premier Forest Products Inc. work with two Logset forest machines: a Logset 8H GTE harvester with a Logset TH75 harvester head and a Logset 5FP GT forwarder.
Once we get to the site, we are greeted by one of the two company owners Randy Wirtanen, who operates the harvester, and operator Max Fisher who operates the forwarder. Both gents are in strikingly good mood and excited to hear that the journalist is from Finland.
- We cut mainly hardwood, and the trees in this area are very challenging because there is not a straight tree in the forest. Also, the trees have big crowns. Here everyone knows what the Finnish term paska puu means. According to Greg that is why we bought an 8H. I have cut 36-inch (91,44 cm) trees with it, says Randy and laughs.
At the moment, the other company owner Greg Trowbridge is not at the forest site. Randy says they have known each other since they were teenagers. The men had their own small forestry businesses before they joined their forces in 1993 and founded Premier Forest Products. The work distribution between the two founders is so that Greg takes care of the office work, like plans where truck drivers need to go and manages contracts with the mills. Randy operates the Logset harvester that the company bought from Fabick Cat in October 2018. Fabick Cat has been a Logset dealer since 2017, and their territory includes the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the entire state of Wisconsin, as well as major parts of Missouri and Illinois.
In addition to Greg and Randy, Premier Forest has three employees who work as forest machine operators.
- Our Logset 5FP was bought from Fabick in January 2019. We would like to expand the company even further, but finding good operators is difficult, says Randy.
Intimidation turns into excitedness and higher production
Premier Forest Products typically cuts maple, birch, cherry and aspen. 80 % of the work sites are thinnings and 20 % final cuts. Randy says that he can run the comfortable harvester for 12 hours without a problem. A normal workday is between 8–12 hours and in that time, he produces approximately 75 cords of pulpwood (272 cubic meters).
- When we got the harvester, I was first intimidated by the cabin. There are so many buttons and I was used to doing full tree harvesting. After a while I found that the harvester is easy to use, the visibility is great, and our production went up remarkably. I can climb a huge hill or drive through a swamp. With the boom reach I can work 30 feet (approx. 10 m) in both directions.
There haven’t been any long downtimes on the new machines and Randy praises the Fabick Cat service team.
- The Logset machines are reliable and easy to service because the hoses are nicely laid out under the hood. When doing a fuel refill, I never spill a drop thanks to the flat face coupling. The Fabick service is also phenomenal. I can call them, and they bring the parts to my garage. Two of the service men live in the same town as me, so it is convenient.
Logset 5FP GT operator Max joins the discussion by commenting the forwarder.
- The Logset forwarder is well built. It has a real sturdy frame and bunks. Operating the machine is comfortable even with random length logs. Previously, after such a rain, I would have needed tracks in this area, but not with Logset. I agree with Randy. I can climb hills in soft terrain with full load without a problem. The forwarder seems to be filled with advanced technology, but it is simple to use. I think the company’s current Valmet tractor should be replaced with another Logset forwarder, he adds smiling.
Great Lakes Logging Expo in Escanaba
Two days after the Premier Forest Products interview Fabick Cat and Logset have a joined exhibition site at Great Lakes Logging Expo in Escanaba, Michigan. The exhibition is held Sep 5-7, 2019. Four Logset machines are exhibited and one of them is a Logset 8F GT forwarder. When Greg and Randy arrive to the show, they are ready to sign the purchase contract for a larger sized forwarder.
- I like what the Logset machines can do. Our work goes faster, and everything has worked out well so far, says Greg.
Soon the Logset 8F GT forwarder becomes the third new Logset machine for Premier Forest Products within one year. Congrats!