Tigercat specializes in the design and manufacture of premium quality forest harvesting systems, specialized off-road industrial machines and material processing equipment.
Tigercat is a privately owned, vertically integrated Canadian corporation with deep expertise in engineering, fabrication, manufacturing, and the support of machinery suited to severe duty applications.
Our roots are in forestry
Tigercat has decades of experience in the forest harvesting sector with the expertise to design complex structural, mechanical, hydraulic and electronic systems that perform every day in extreme and adverse conditions. Tigercat is taking this vast experience and using it to expand into other sectors that require tough, reliable machines to take on demanding duty cycles in other niche industrial applications.
The off-road industrial product line includes land clearing, silviculture and site preparation equipment as well as other specialized severe duty carriers used in a variety of industries including utilities, oil and gas and construction.
Built in Canada, global reach
With headquarters in Brantford, Ontario, Tigercat operates from eleven southern Ontario locations, along with additional facilities in the USA and Sweden. These facilities house the design and production teams for all Tigercat products as well as steel fabrication, administration, customer service and parts distribution. Serving the US, a large parts distribution and training centre is located in Ailey, Georgia. A second US facility based in Fremont, New Hampshire houses a portion of the material processing design team. Tigercat also operates a sales, service and parts distribution facility in Hede, Sweden.
Hands-on Tigercat customer support field personnel in ten countries
Over 170 dealer locations worldwide
Tigercat machines in over 40 countries
1,000,000 square feet of office, manufacturing and parts warehouse space
A Tigercat axle spindle goes through the heat treat process at Tigercat’s drivetrain production facility in Kitchener, Ontario.
Tigercat machinery is well known for structural integrity, long life and the ability to withstand the extreme challenges of full-time forest-duty applications.
In addition to superior engineering, it is Tigercat’s deep fabricating expertise and high-quality welding and machining that account for the durable nature of the machines. The result of Tigercat’s tight, in-house control over steel fabricating is longer useful life, increased machine availability and higher resale values. Recognizing that in some cases, purchased components hold back the productivity and availability rates of Tigercat machines, the company has sought to take control of the design and manufacture of a selection of key components — including axles and transmissions — in an effort to provide parts that are able to withstand the additional stresses that go along with the high performance and capabilities characteristic of Tigercat machines.
Tigercat began in 1992 when a small group of professionals with extensive experience in all facets of the logging equipment industry teamed up with the Cambridge, Ontario based fabrication company, MacDonald Steel.
At the time, MacDonald Steel was engaged in the fabrication of components for many well-known mobile equipment manufacturers. However, owner and CEO Ken MacDonald envisioned the creation of a new company that would build upon MacDonald Steel’s fabricating expertise, a company that would design and manufacture purpose-built forestry equipment. It was a gamble because at the time there were many large and established companies competing in a crowded forestry equipment market.
The original team members performed exhaustive field research in the southeastern US, one of the world’s great wood producing regions. This on-the-ground experience with logging contractors determined that even with four manufacturers competing for market share, drive-to-tree feller bunchers were falling well below the expectations of the customer base, foremost in terms of mechanical reliability and longevity.
Focusing on the input and reactions of southeastern US loggers, Tigercat set out to design a technically superior alternative. The result was the 726 feller buncher, quickly recognized as a more durable, reliable machine capable of achieving greater production. The 726 also proved to deliver a longer useful life with significantly higher uptime than competing machines.
The immediate success of the 726, coupled with Tigercat’s high regard for customer feedback and satisfaction, set a high standard early in the game which the company constantly aims to surpass.
The Prototype 726
Pulled off a north Florida highway in 1992 was a Mack truck hauling a strange-looking feller buncher. Two guys stood armed with a punch and die set and a ball-peen hammer: a truck driver called Don Snively and a tradesman named Jim Wood. Both worked for MacDonald Steel. Serial numbers and paperwork were minor details that no one thought of during the rush to get the prototype Tigercat 726 feller buncher built — until the prospect of jail loomed that is.
When it came time to build the prototype Tigercat in 1992, Wood was the obvious choice. As a licensed electrician, millwright and automotive mechanic, he had the skills and talent to deal with the complications and uncertainties that were sure to accompany the assembly of a new machine in the back corner of a steel fabrication plant.
The clock was ticking and Wood recalls being questioned by Tigercat president Tony Iarocci regarding the machine’s state of readiness. He answered, “We can ship it now or wait three more weeks. Tony said ‘ship it tomorrow.’ We had the batteries bungee corded into the belly pan.”
Snively climbed into the old Mack truck bound for Expo Southeast in Tifton, Georgia. Wood followed in a pick-up. They worked on the machine at rest stops in the evening. By the time they reached Georgia, it was acceptably finished. After the show, the two of them, often accompanied by Iarocci and Ken MacDonald, toured the southeast with the machine.
Recalling Expo Southeast and the representatives of another equipment manufacturer who brought them, Williston Timber co-owner Eddie Hodge says, “They were rushing us through the show to get us to [they're] machines and we wanted to stop and look at this new Tigercat. The damn engine was turned around the wrong way… Besides it was a catchy name.”
Shortly after the show, Eddie and his operator flew to Louisiana where the machine was being demonstrated and met up with Iarocci, MacDonald, Snively and Wood. There were not many trees left on the site but they made do. “We cut some stumps and drove it around on some hills and found a few standing trees,” explains Eddie. Then he proposed the one-month trial.
Eddie recalls, “I said to Tony, ‘If you want to you can bring that thing to Florida. We don’t know anything about it, so you’ll have to leave the mechanic with it. If it stays together for a month, we’ll buy it.’ So that was the deal. It didn’t even have a serial number on it. Don gets stopped by the Florida DOT. They’re calling us. He calls Canada and he’s down for like half a day. You know stolen equipment moves like that, you grind the serial numbers off… They’re from Canada. They don’t have any paperwork. They’ve got a day cab truck. And all they wanted was to get rid of that thing and go home.” By the time Snively dropped the machine to the Hodges and headed for home, he had been away 40 days.
Tigercat rebuilt the prototype 726 as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations. Eddie Hodge hands the keys to the prototype 726 back to Ken MacDonald and Tigercat after 25 years. Robert Clary, owner of the first production model 726 and former Tigercat president, Tony Iarocci look on.
Tigercat employs 2,000 people, a far cry from the handful of individuals that designed and built the first 726 feller buncher in 1992. The Tigercat team is the company’s greatest asset.
Similar to end-users, suppliers and dealers, Tigercat employees are considered business partners. Unhindered by a myriad of rules or a long chain of command, Tigercat employees are highly customer focused and empowered to solve problems quickly. As a result, operations at Tigercat are characterized by a high degree of responsiveness, flexibility and proficiency.
Tigercat product development is ongoing and customer-driven and field research is essential to the development process. Designers, customer service and management personnel frequently visit logging operations and logging professionals frequently spend time at the Tigercat factories. Although the pandemic has temporarily curtailed many of these opportunities for information sharing, Tigercat has adapted quickly and continues to maintain close contact with the customer base. This open collaboration between Tigercat designers and logging professionals and ongoing end-user contact is unsurpassed in the industry. The process ensures that Tigercat’s product development is rapid, responsive and aligned with the current and future needs of the customer.
Chris McMillan explores the latest capital investment at Tigercat – specialized equipment for the manufacture of critical component parts. In this issue, the focus is on the induction heat treating and tempering process for the manufacture of Tigercat axle spindles.
The first article in a new Between the Branches feature series. ‘On the Floor’ showcases different aspects of Tigercat’s manufacturing process. The company has made significant investments in advanced machinery and technologies in an effort to continuously improve manufacturing efficiencies and quality. In this issue Chris McMillan talks to VP of manufacturing, Joe Barroso about Tigercat's latest robotic welding cells in the skidder production facility.
25 years ago, a very small company with a single prototype and no distribution showed up at a logging show in Georgia. What led up to it and what happened next? Some of the earliest Tigercat team members look back for the answers.
20 is a film by Tigercat that premiered in June 2012 as a part of Tigercat's 20th anniversary. 20 tells the story of Tigercat through a cross section of customers located in Canada, the United States, Sweden and South Africa.
25, a film by Tigercat, was made in conjunction with Tigercat's silver anniversary. The film explores the importance of the prototype 726 feller buncher, the machine that started it all and launched a company that would go on to change the business of harvesting timber around the world.
This is the English language release. Now available with subtitles in French, Spanish, Portuguese and Swedish. Russian coming soon.