BTB 41: STEADY GETS IT

BTB visits Michael Bedgood Logging in Shreveport, Louisiana.

– Samantha Paul, Tigercat marketing

After graduating high school, Tigercat customer, Michael Bedgood, had a football and track scholarship. At the time, his father Gary owned four logging crews and was contracting to forest management company, RoyOMartin. When the logging market started to decline, Michael let his football coach know that he needed to go to the woods to help his dad and the coach suspected that Michael wouldn’t be back on the field. So while the city boys on Michael’s team got odd jobs in the summer, Michael was toiling in the woods behind a shear with his father. “It quickly made football practice seem like a breeze,” claims Michael. He took over his father’s logging crew entirely in 2000. Now known as Bedgood Logging, Michael is working just outside of Shreveport, Louisiana and owns three all- Tigercat crews.

(L-R) Matt Wiggins, 630B operator; Mike Wiggins, 724G operator; Chad Huff, 630C operator; Ted Stroud, 234 operator; Michael Bedgood, owner; Jason Waters, foreman; Jason Norman, 234 operator; Heinz Pfeifer, Tigercat district manager.

(L-R) Matt Wiggins, 630B operator; Mike Wiggins, 724G operator; Chad Huff, 630C operator; Ted Stroud, 234 operator; Michael Bedgood, owner; Jason Waters, foreman; Jason Norman, 234 operator; Heinz Pfeifer, Tigercat district manager.

Football philosophy

At 48-years-old, Michael still loves football. He has two boys (sixteen and ten) that play the game and currently coaches a youth football team. Michael’s wife, Kerri is the glue that keeps the whole operation together. She manages the books, runs parts and does all the administrative work.

Michael uses the same philosophy managing his logging crews as he does with coaching – it’s all about teamwork. “One bad apple can spoil the bunch,” says Michael. “Everyone needs to work together and flow together.” He tries to keep a core set of guys that get along and work well together. All it takes is one guy to mess the whole operation up.

In his younger days, patience was at a premium and Michael was easily angered when issues came up. He had a tendency to push the man out of the way and do the job himself rather than discuss the

Michael and Bo Bamburg (foreman and 718E operator) on his newest thinning operation in Saline, Louisiana.

Michael and Bo Bamburg (foreman and 718E operator) on his newest thinning operation in Saline, Louisiana.

situation calmly, discover what went wrong and find a solution.

His dad told him, “Son, it’s going to be hard to run all of it yourself one day. You might want to learn how to calm down and learn to work together.” Michael has taken his father’s advice when dealing with less than ideal situations with his own crew. Turnover is low and he acknowledges that he is lucky – the crew clicks and flows together very well.

The team

On Michael’s clear fell job in Jamestown he has two 234 loaders, a 630B skidder, a 630C skidder, a 724G drive-to-tree-feller buncher equipped with the 5600 bunching saw and a spare 630B. The foreman, Jason Waters has been operating Tigercat equipment for twenty years. “We run some older machines but they sure are dependable. My whole crew loves Tigercat,” says Jason.

Tigercat 234 loader delimbing 28-year-old pine in Jamestown, Louisiana.

Tigercat 234 loader delimbing 28-year-old pine in Jamestown, Louisiana.

Michael’s second crew in Hall Summit uses a 720G feller buncher with a 5500 saw, a 630D skidder and a 240B loader. Michael actually started up his third crew the same day BTB visited
on October 2. This is a thinning operation in Saline where he has a 718E drive to tree feller buncher with a 5500 saw that has 13,000 hours on it, two loaders, a 230B and 234, and two 630D skidders.

The 234 loaders have electronic boom control, which Michael was not used to at first. “I am old school and like the pilot control, but after an hour with the electronic control you realize how much faster it is and you don’t have any hydraulic hoses to worry about.”

The field

Michael’s clear fell crew is harvesting 28-year-old pine that average 16 to 24 inches (405-610 mm) in diameter. His second and third crews are thinning twelve to thirteen-year-old pine that average 10 to 12 inches (255-305 mm) in diameter. Michael hasn’t worked a hardwood tract in over two years and he favours the pine thinning tracts. “However, everything does work harder on thinning jobs. You are dealing with smaller trees and longer skidding distances. That’s why I need Tigercat,” he explains.

Matt Wiggins and his son Mike Wiggins operate the Tigercat skidders on Michael’s logging site.

Matt Wiggins and his son Mike Wiggins operate the Tigercat skidders on Michael’s logging site.

Michael is happy to work in the sandy areas of northwest Louisiana as the crews can operate almost every day of the year with hardly anything shutting them down. The sandy soil allows the rain to drain quickly compared to the clay rich soils in other parts of the state.

However, Louisiana does get its fair share of rain. When driving to the first job site Michael shared his recent memories of the Red River flooding that occurred the previous spring. The Red River reached its highest levels in 70 years, leaving hundreds of homes under water throughout Louisiana. On its way to the Mississippi River, the Red flows past Shreveport and the runoff from flooding in Texas and Oklahoma at that time all funneled into one big stream, causing big problems for residents. “There were alligators in people’s yards,” exclaims Michael.

The goal

Bedgood Logging runs a day shift, five days per week from daylight until 5:00 pm. The clear fell job will average about eighteen loads per day and the larger thinning job will average sixteen loads per day. The new three- machine thinning job is aiming for ten loads per day and everything over that is a bonus. “Times have changed, it is not like it used to be when eight loads per day was enough to pay off your equipment. You have to have volume now, so it is unfortunate but

A Tigercat 630D in the thinning corridor in Saline, Louisiana.

A Tigercat 630D in the thinning corridor in Saline, Louisiana.

there is no time to train anyone new. You need to get the volume when you can until the mill puts you on quota.”

With his two existing jobs Michael will try to average about 175 loads per week with an average of 28 tons per load. Therefore, a good year will total over 245,000 which will increase now that he has started his third thinning crew. Bedgood hauls to about ten different mills around the southern US and the new thinning job is the product of a supply agreement with the International Paper Mansfield Mill.

The support

Based in Many, Louisiana, Patrick-Miller Tractor Co. has been a Tigercat dealer for nineteen years. Sales manager Wayne Ammons has been providing Tigercat equipment to Michael since 2001 and Michael can always count on him and Tigercat district manager, Heinz Pfeifer for any support he needs. “The service at Patrick-Miller is second to nobody and service is everything,” comments Michael. “You used to be able to have a machine go down for a day or two but now it will really cost you.” Gene Stockton is a well-respected road technician for Patrick-Miller. “Good mechanics are hard to come by but they sure do have a good one. He is worth his weight in gold,” claims Michael.

Jason Waters, the crew foreman agrees, “Patrick- Miller is first class.” Michael Bedgood plans to keep running his favourite equipment, working with the best dealership in the area and growing his crew slow and steady, so the whole team can retire together.