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TimberWest January/February 2011

March/April TimberWest

Making Our Own Success
Chehalis Valley Timber

Teaming Tradition with Technology
Meadowlark Log Homes

Visionary at the Helm
Warner Enterprises

Redwood Logging Conference Review

Tech Review
Harvesting and Processing Heads

OLC Review
Portable Chippers and Grinders

Guest Column:
Loggers’ Success Tied to
Embracing Technology and
Diversifying Operations in 2011
By Nate Clark, Manager
Forestry Marketing, John Deere

DEPARTMENTS:

In The News

Association News

Woody Biomass Column

New Products

Machinery Row

 

 

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Meadowlark Log HomesVisionary at the Helm

Warner Enterprises says “Everything Matters” in this business

By Kathy Coatney
How does a logging company stay viable during a recession? For Warner Enterprises Inc., based in Redding, Calif., it starts with a visionary at the helm.Paul Warner, originally a forester for Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) in San Francisco, fell in love with the north state and moved to Redding, where he established Warner Enterprises Inc. in 1978. His son, Gary Warner, runs the operation now, and he learned from his father to embrace change and roll with the punches.

Gary Warner, owner of Warner Enterprises Inc., stands beside a Timberjack 460 skidder at a biomass operation in Old Station, Calif.

When the company first started, it was very much a conventional operation with hand fallers, skidders, and loaders. “It wasn’t long until my dad started getting into biomass,” Warner says. “My dad loved firefighting, and he loved logging. He always kind of had that duel vision, and I think he saw the biomass as going hand-in-hand with the fire suppression.”

Over the years, Warner Enterprises has been linked with fuels management — performing total forest management. “We like to take it from the stump, to the grinding on the back side. Take it from one, all the way to the other,” Warner says.

Heavy Duty Firefighting Equipment
In the late 1990s, Warner Enterprises manufactured the Fire Track, specialized fire fighting equipment for Cal Fire. “It was an armored personnel carrier that was surplus to the government. They wouldn’t release them, but they would let us borrow them through the Forest Service, Cal Fire, and the County,” Warner says. “We put blades on them and a propane fire turret out the back for backfiring. It was pretty advanced fire fighting equipment. We ran those for Cal Fire for about five years,” Warner says. The Fire Track was to firefighting what a tank is to the army.

“We would retrofit them for under $100,000, and we could have done as many as they needed,” Warner says, adding it was cheap in comparison to $250,000 to $500,000 for a fire engine.

The Precision Whole Tree Disc Chipper was especially designed for Warner. The chipper is at about a 45 degree angle and has three knives.

Warner felt their equipment was the breakthrough link between air attacks, conventional bulldozers, and hand crews. “We could bring water with the dozers up on the front lines of the fire, and we could do what air attack and helicopters couldn’t do,” Warner says.

They were doing fires and biomass at the same time, and consequently theirshop grew. “It was very large because we had to cover fire tracks, plus maintain our logging and chipping equipment,” Warner says, and at that time, they had 40-50 employees. Working with the governmentwas extremely frustrating for Warner, which eventually led to disbanding the program.

“We basically tapered the whole program off, because we weren’t getting enough calls from the government,” says Warner.

Mastication
When the company started phasing out its fire fighting efforts, the logging industry was becoming extremely competitive. Warner enterprises scaled back and focused on mastication and biomass. “We have a mastication side that does brush mowing, and then we have our conventional, biomass side, which is just a thin and remove side,” Warner says. Almost all of Warner’s mastication work is done for the government. The contracts are difficult to get because of the reduction in funding for projects. The contracts they do get can go long into the season. But even though it’s a niche market, and the contracts are getting few and farther apart, it’s a place where Warner can be competitive. Warner says the company owns two Franklins, which they use for mastication. “One Franklin is a 4550, and the other one is a 3650, and they both run a Fecon Bull Hog 120.”

Biomass
With the slow down in mastication business, Warner is currently directing its attention to biomass. “My focus has really become, do one thing really good and efficient and focus in on the jobs that we can do better than anyone else, and target those,” he says. At present, those jobs are biomass.

The company has an assortmentof rubber tire feller bunchers used in biomass operation. “My main cutting
equipment are two Valmet 603 hot saws. Those have been excellent machines — very reliable, extremely productive.

Pictured is a Tmberjack 460 skidder. Warner’s primary cutting equipment are two Valmet 603 hot saws.

He adds, “I have some other machines that I keep kind of in second string if need be. I have a Wolverine Snip, it’s a hydraulic shear, along with a Franklin 3650, which is a hydraulic shear, but 95 percent of the cutting is done with the Valmets.” Four Timberjack 460 skidders move the logs to the chipper, and a V5H High Drive Caterpillar is used for buildinglandings.

Warner also uses a 23-inch Whole Tree Disc Chipper, especially made by Precision. “The disc chipper is sideways at about a 45 degree angle, and it has three knives,” explains Warner. “I like the disc chipper because it makes a better product than the drums.”

Warner’s chipper has a feed chain table where the material is dropped onto the table and fed into the chipper. This allows him to chip small materialsvery efficiently, and that is important because the smaller stems are difficult to feed into just a feeder mouth.

“It’s extremely efficient on the smaller stems,” Warner says, and most of the material they’re chipping is three to nine inches in diameter. “A lot of the material that doesn’t go into that conventional chipper just ends up in theslash pile, but that feed table allows us to efficiently process those small stems.”

Staying Productive
Efficiency counts in this economy, Warner says. “We watch our costs, we’re efficient, only keep the best and brightest employees. No hanger-oners and that really works for us.”

“The details, right now, are where things are — keeping your equipment, lack of breakdowns, and efficiency in your cutting and skidding, and even in the way you organize your trucking. Everything matters.”

 

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