FORWARD THINKING EVENSON LOGGING COMPANY CLATSKANIE, OREGON
According to an Internet post, industries that have played an important part of Clatskanie’s growth have been mainly those concerned with logging. A leading figure in this industry was Simon Benson, who financed and supervised logging operations, mills and the Benson log rafts. Another key figure in the field was O.J. Evenson, who was a partner with Benson in the construction of the ‘revolutionary' cigar- shaped log rafts used to transport timber to San Diego. Evenson eventually bought out Benson, and the Evenson family members continue in the logging industry in Clatskanie today.
Evenson Timberland today holds some 30,000 acres of timberland in the Clatskanie area. Originally purchased as stump land from Benson, the timberland matured until it was ready once again to start being harvested in the early 1960s. Evenson’s son Everson approached the family about starting a logging company for the task. That original business was known as E.H. Evenson Contractor, and it’s still stenciled on some of the old equipment and on the front door of the office in downtown Clatskanie. In the mid-1970s, Edvard’s sons Eric and Willard joined the business, and that’s when the name was changed to Evenson Logging Company.
Eric’s son David acts as forester on the family tree farm and hook tender on the yarder side. Eric is still a forester, and up until recently, he was operating the processor; now he scaled back to being fill-in shovel operator.
This is still very much a family business, and little has changed over the years in terms of dedication and commitment. The company grew in size, and today they operate a tower side and shovel side.
Trucks have been part of the operation for the majority of the time, and the fleet currently consists for five logging trucks – one of which quick changes to pull the Aspen lowboy trailer, and another that is a dedicated hayrack. They also have four dump trucks that they use on road building and maintenance projects.
It might not seem that only a handful of logging trucks could keep up with two full-time logging sides, but the timberland is close-in and the majority of loads are going to log yards in Longview. That means that the trucks can make as many as five cycles a day.
Evenson Logging harvests approximately 270 acres of timberland each year for long-term sustainable yield. They operate a tower and shovel side, and during the summer months, because they have oftentimes reached their quota, they will put the yarder away and switch to cutting right-of-way. With the decrease in production, the trucks will haul for other local loggers including Morisse Logging, Nygaard Logging, Big Horn Logging and C&C Logging, to stay busy.
“It’s nice knowing that we’ve got X-amount of trucks everyday for sure,” David says. “There’s a sense of pride in that we’re doing everything from putting the trees on the ground to sending them to the mill. It’s neat to see your name on trucks going down the road hauling your logs.”
Having a lowbed on call to move equipment is the ultimate in convenience, but it also represents a sizable investment. “We’ve got a lot of short moves,” David adds, “and it doesn’t really make sense to have somebody else come out to move a shovel four miles down the road. We can just hook up the lowboy trailer after hauling the last load of logs and make the move.”
Until recently, when two new Kenworths were added to the fleet, the trucks were “cookie cutter” KW 900B models. Driver Mike Cruize wanted a long hood, so when it came time to upgrade, Lovegren priced out the trucks and the L-model was less than a thousand dollars more. It was a good deal for a good driver.
Truck boss Walt Lovegren says the idea is to give the drivers what they’re comfortable with, but also maintaining horsepower around 550 and making the trucks last with durable components. “We’re not into the whole lightweight thing,” he says.
The newer trucks turn out 550 horsepower, but they were spec’ed 2050 torque. The price was drastically less than going with a 600 that has the same torque rating.
“We’re not drag racing,” Lovegren says, “We’re pulling hills.”
Everson has shifted over to General logging trailers. ‘They have really good customer support after the sale. We have a parts guy that comes through or calls once a week. When we did the new trucks there was a lot of specific things that we wanted done – like moving the chainbox back so as not to rub on the wiring near frame, and they were very helpful in taking care of the issue,” Lovegren says.
All of the logging trucks are equipped with a drop axle. “We’re in the quality of timber that you can cut the 40-foot logs,” says Lovegren, “and for the most part we stay stretched out for that so we can get the full payload.”
In the normal cycle, Evenson keeps a truck about 10 years and up towards five or six hundred thousand miles. They cover them with an extended warranty. “Guys might say that it’s a lot of extra money, but if you lose a turbo or water pump or any of the emissions stuff, and it pays for itself,” Lovegren states.
Evenson has a single mechanic, Phil Escola, to take care of the logging equipment and trucks. Some of the larger repairs are farmed out to Peterson Cat, DSU and Pape Kenworth. Preventative maintenance is also crucial, as are upgrades to improve functionality.
“If there is a failure in a certain location, such as cross members where we’ve had some serious (faults) due to engineering by manufacturer, we just redesign it,” Escola says.
Escola and Lovegren agree that having a quality, conscientious driver at the wheel plays a big role in keeping trucks in good condition.
“It’s important that our drivers have enough mechanical ability that if something happens out on the road, that they can get it patched up enough to get it home, or be able to give the mechanic a good idea about what happened and what tools and parts they may need to bring out to take care of the truck in the field,” Lovegren says.
“We’re a close-knit group so we need guys that will fit in and get along. Drivers need to be good log haulers who don’t need to be babysat,” Lovegren adds. “During the summertime, want to be able to turn them loose and know that they are going to be doing their jobs without much supervision.
Evenson is a longstanding company with a history of satisfied employees who give their best for the company. In turn, the company treats them with respect, good benefit and a great place to work. Some of the recently retired crew called Evenson home for more than 40 years.
“You don’t want to put a lot of effort into a driver just to have them leave because they think the grass is greener someplace else,” Lovegren says. “We’re kind of like the next generation of drivers to be here until we’re ready to retire.”
“We’re all like family, and there are a lot of people who would like to come to work here because they know it’s a good environment,” EvenPson says. “When guys come here they stay a long time.”
“I’m proud of what my grandpa started and my dad and uncle kept going. I want to keep ‘er going.”