50 Years and still Strong
Hagedorn Logging’s flexibility
and commitment to quality keep them successful for over 50 years
By Bob Bruce
Terry Martin skidding with
a Prentice 490 skidder.
the northeast corner of Oregon out around La Grande, the Umatilla and
Wallowa-Whitman National Forests are home to billions of board feet of timber.
Unfortunately, federal timber sales within these regions have been neither
plentiful nor dependable in recent years. As a result, about the only thing that
has kept logging operators afloat in this area has been bidding on commercial
harvesting and thinning operations on privately-owned land.
Terry Martin, operator,
George Hagedorn, owner, and Steve Dick of Glenn Dick Equipment
The available work can often be on
small acreage jobs, and frequently comes with a fair number of challenges, both
environmental and procedural. For a small family-owned logging company like
George Hagedorn Logging, being able to stay in business under such conditions
and remain successful for over 50 years requires a lot of flexibility, a strong
commitment to quality, and a well-chosen selection of dependable and efficient
Growing Up in the Trees
George grew up in the logging industry, working for his father George Sr. (who
everybody called Ray). Ray got the business started back in 1953, working jobs
for Georgia Pacific up around Walla Walla. In 1971 (when George Jr. was about 14
years old), Ray got his first contract with Boise Cascade doing clearing for
road right-of-way around La Grande. Two years later, Boise awarded Ray and his
crew their first harvesting contract. Sadly, only six years later, in 1979, Ray
passed away. George was 22 at the time and just one year into his life as a
newly-married man with wife Vanessa. Even so, he was old enough to step into his
dad's shoes as best he could to continue the family business. While George's
mother, Maita, ran the financial and contractual end of things, George handled
the woods crew. Later, George and Vanessa bought out George's mother and took
over operation of the company in its entirety. George stayed in the brush, while
Vanessa managed the office.
Dave English piliing brush
with a Hitachi 200.
Top Notch Equipment & Team
By all accounts, George runs a first-class operation in terms of its ability to
meet tough customer requirements and environmental mandates, all the while
producing a high-quality product. George gives most of the credit for his
company's sterling reputation to his crew, most of whom have been with him for a
number of years. For example, Gale Martin, who operates their Cat D5 skidder,
has been with George for 24 years — literally since the beginning when George
took over. Dave English, who operates the Hitachi 200 loader, has been with the
company for a dozen years. While George's 21- year-old son Brad is pursuing a
premed program at OSU, George's other son, 18-year-old Danny, has entered the
family business and runs the Yutani 200. And it's a family operation in more
ways than one, since Gale's son Terry also works for George, operating the new
Prentice 490 skidder. Rounding out Hagedorn's equipment and crew lineup is Bill
Shaffer, who operates the Cat 518 skidder, and Russ Smith, who works the Cat 322
outfitted with a Denis stroke delimber. Dennis Smith (no relation) is the cutter
for the crew. And whenever needed, George jumps into the cab of his Prentice 610
loader, which is mounted on a Lanco rubber-tired carrier.
Danny Hagedorn loading
with a Yutani 200.
One of the main things that sets George’s guys apart and makes them such a
valuable asset is their professionalism. "Dave and Gale set the example for the
rest of crew," says George. "They protect reproductive habitat. They don't tear
up the ground. They pile the brush with our loaders so it will burn better. They
have pride in doing a job right." They are also willing to learn and adapt to
stay in sync with changing priorities and pressures within the industry. For
every logging company that has survived, at least two others have gone under.
As Hagedorn sees it, one of the
major contributing factors to success or failure under current conditions is the
ability of a crew to think on its feet, make intelligent decisions in the brush,
and pay attention to detail. Fall down in any of those areas and you run the
risk of damaging the environment, delivering unacceptable product to the
customer, or running afoul of some governmental agency or public watchdog.
Either way, it can end up being an unpleasant hit to the bottom line.
For example, most of Hagedorn's
work comes by way of Boise Cascade. Their most recent job involved over story
removal on some 185 acres of Boise land east of Union, Ore., up along Catherine
Creek near the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. This is a follow-on project to a
similar 160- acre thinning operation they completed earlier, also on Boise land.
The task requires a fair amount of "heads up" thinking in the field, with pine
going to Boise's La Grande mill, fir tagged for Boise's Elgin mill, and pulp
headed for Boise's Umatilla mill. In the completed 160-acre cut, approximately
600,000 bd. ft. were removed, but because of Boise's BFI requirement and the
need to work around the weather to minimize mud and erosion, the work is
restricted to only about nine months out of the year, with anywhere from 15- 20
loads per day being pulled out of the forest and sent to the mill.
Typically on such jobs, Boise
sends its own crews out into the harvest units to mark which of the trees need
to be left standing for habitat maintenance and such. But sometimes the markers
don't make it out in time, or forget to mark a tree that clearly should have
been marked. In such cases, the operator has to be willing and able to make a
judgment call on the spot to leave an extra tree or two and then perhaps come
back later after receiving confirmation from Boise's forester.
Prentice 490 skidder.
Environmental & Practical
According to Hagedorn, the recently purchased 490 skidder fits in well with
their style or work and their in-thebrush demands. The large window space in the
cab, combined with the simple gauge design and clear instrument layout, won high
marks in particular. Terry Martin says he loved the visibility, adding that "No
one will have trouble making production with this unit." The 490's grapple also
receives Martin's approval. "It really holds the bunch tight," he says. "You
don't have to grab the butt long to allow for any slippage." Amore secure load
translates into faster production, more accurate placement, and less damage to
the logs, all of which is important when trying to maintain high quality output.
Finally, the 490 comes with a beefy and reliable Cummins 6BTA-173HP power plant,
driving a 6-forward, 3-reverse gear torque converter.
As a result, the 490 works great
in tight spots and can handle uneven or loose terrain with a minimum of ground
tearing, wheel spinning, or driveline stress. Hagedorn first saw the 490 at last
year's OLC show. While he's been a heavy fan of Cat equipment over the years, he
said that some of the key features that swung him over to the Prentice were its
easy serviceability, the fact that it is built with proven components, and then
what you might call overall bang for the buck. "I own a Prentice 610 log loader,
and it has outlasted three engines," he explains. "You can't buy a unit that is
cheaper to operate. I figured if Prentice can make a loader that good, their
skidder had to be strong."
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