Inside This Issue
COVER: Young Logger Griff Wilson Thrives In South Carolina
LOWRYS, South Carolina – Griff Wilson, 28, began his logging career in the summer of 2012 with a chain saw and old-school chain near the farm in Lowrys, in Chester County, South Carolina, where he grew up. He had just graduated from high school and was headed in the fall to North Carolina State University in Raleigh. By that time he was a seasoned farm hand, having gone to work baling wheat straw at age 12.
Article by May Donnell
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CAMERON, Missouri – Mark Dotson, 59, the owner of Tri Rivers Enterprise, runs two crews. Both crews work in a variety of tract types, but when Southern Loggin’ Times caught up with them last fall, the Tri Rivers team had a very atypical job. On that day, instead of deep in the woods off a rural dirt road, SLT found Dotson’s equipment at Lord’s Park in downtown Harrisonville, a suburb of Kansas City. This bid job, with timber marked by private forestry consultants, was full of large walnut trees, and a few oaks. One oak in particular presented an intriguing logistical challenge. Near the back end of the park, this one measured seven feet in diameter on the butt.
Article by David Abbott, Managing Editor, Southern Loggin’ Times
WOODVILLE, Texas – Plagued by never-ending drama—from financing to fire—the former Texas Pellets facility never saw the consistency that many other industrial wood pellet operations in the pine-rich U.S. South have experienced over the last decade. Instead, it battled engineering issues, machinery issues, staffing concerns and then finally a bankruptcy. When Baltics-based Graanul Invest, one of the world’s largest and most reliable wood pellet producers, purchased the mothballed six-year-old plant at auction in 2019, to be blunt, the facility was a mess.
Article by Jessica Johnson, Senior Editor, Southern Loggin’ Times
SPOTLIGHT ON: Tires, Tracks, Etc.
Southern Loggin’ Times invited manufacturers of tires, tracks, chains and related components and services to submit editorial.
- Despino’s Tire
- Forest Chain Multi-Ring
- McCarthy Tire Services
FROM THE BACKWOODS PEW: Whiter Than Snow
Without the benefit of experience, and with little equipment in comparison to their northern counterparts, the South braces for the onslaught of bad winter weather with the same attitude it faces the summer hurricane. Get some groceries, kick back, and let it rip. Storms come into our lives in the same way. Often, they are announced, sometimes warnings are ignored, and others come out of nowhere.
Article By Brad Antill, forester and author. Excerpted from Pines, Prayers, and Pelts.
INDUSTRY NEWS ROUNDUP
- As We See It: Logging Workforce Development
- Northeast Texas Receives Heavy Timber Damage
- American Truckers Cite Fuel Prices, Drivers
- Stihl Plans Expansion At Virginia Beach
Collision With Train Injures Log Truck Driver
Young Logger Griff Wilson Thrives In South Carolina
Article by May Donnell
LOWRYS, South Carolina – Griff Wilson, 28, began his logging career in the summer of 2012 with a chain saw and old-school chain near the farm in Lowrys, in Chester County, South Carolina, where he grew up. He had just graduated from high school and was headed in the fall to North Carolina State University in Raleigh. By that time he was a seasoned farm hand, having gone to work baling wheat straw at age 12. He managed to put together 10 log loads that summer and with the proceeds and help from his father, he purchased a used skidder. Each summer for the next four years, he worked that skidder.
He’s upped his production considerably since that time. And then some. The company now averages 80 loads per week, 45% sawlogs and 55% pulpwood. Wilson estimates his crews cut or thin some 40 to 50 acres a week of mostly plantation pine with the occasional hardwood loads.
Wilson earned a degree in forest management at N.C. State, graduating in June 2016. He had spent all of his summer vacations in the woods, learning the business as he went along. He was determined while still in school that he would go into logging and timber procurement and didn’t mind sharing with others he dream of joining the industry.
“I remember when I met Griff Wilson at a logging expo in Smithfield, North Carolina,” says Kevin Wright of Tidewater Equipment Co. in Newberry. “He was fresh out of N.C. State and he was intent on going into logging full time. He was young and enthusiastic and I predicted he’d make a go of it even though he was pretty much starting from scratch.”
Wright and Wilson over time became friends and business associates, with Wright furnishing WilRidge (Wilson’s company) with its inventory of mostly Tigercat forestry equipment.
“After graduation, I sold the skidder I’d bought just before college and that’s the money I started with,” Wilson says. He has had help all along the way from his very busy father, a successful crop farmer, cattleman, feed store proprietor and trucking company owner.
“My dad had helped me get started by giving me the money for a down payment on that first 1991 Timberjack 380B skidder. His father had done the same for him when my dad needed farm equipment during the years he was just starting out.”
Griff’s dad is Joey Wilson. Joey contracted his trucks to WilRidge in those early days to do the new company’s trucking since he knew the business and still shares his shop with Griff.
Griff was a young upstart for an industry where the average age of owners and crews keeps going up. But if there was any skepticism about Wilson’s ability to make a go of it, that died down when, still in his 20s, he started his own wood dealership, purchasing stumpage and marketing the timber that his company crews harvest.
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