L&L, Inc. Lakeview, Oregon
By Darin Burt
L&L, Inc. (which stands for Louis and Lori Mann, president and vice-president of the company, which they started in 1986) is a small logging and trucking outfit that proves the statement that size doesn’t matter.
In actuality, it DOES matter. Louis heads the family crew with sons Terry and Ted. “We really like the dynamic (of a small outfit),” Terry says. “We’ve tried to expand in the past, but it was a challenge keeping good help. The cut-to-length equipment is expensive, and you’ve got to run it efficiently everyday, and it’s hard to train guys to do that. We also bounce around so much - we’ve been everywhere from Chehalis, Washington to all parts of Oregon, and that it’s hard to keep guys interested in what we do.”
L&L has been based out of the Philipsburg, Montana until just before the start of the 2013 when they migrated to Lakeview in Southern, Oregon. The outfit began humbly with a grapple skidder and a D6 Cat in 1986, but it wasn’t long before they were contract logging for Louisiana Pacific, Pyramid Mountain Lumber, RY Timber and Molt Lumber out of Helena, and were harvesting enough timber to keep up to a dozen independent trucks busily hauling. In 2004, they sold all of their tree-length logging equipment and bought Ponsee cut-to-length machinery. That forced them to do all of their own hauling because of the shortage of mule trains in the area.
The solution was to set up a 2006 International as a mule train equipped with a 251 Log King self-loader, and a 2008 Kenworth T800 dedicated mule train. The self-loader serves a greater purpose for loading and unloading logs with different log sorts.
“It’s worked out really well with our type of logging because we tend to do a lot of small landings that tend to be spread out,” Terry says.
In 2010, Montana’s only pulp mill shut down, the cut-to-length market died, and L&L found themselves in a struggle to keep going. They were contacted by Miller Timber services, of out of Philomath, Oregon about doing a four-month job near Bend. “It was just going to be temporary and tied us over through springtime, but they liked our work and we liked them; they kept us working ever since and we’ve decided to move to Oregon permanently.”
It was a smooth transition, and with a small family crew, it was easy to just pick up and move. Having Ted on the self-loader has also helped create an efficient small operation. “The self-loader works really well for going from landing to landing and cleaning up decks. It’s nice to just let him go and do the hauling, so we don’t have to worry about it. When we need to hire additional contract trucks, we usually have him load those trucks as well,” Terry says. A lot of the sorts are done by Terry in the woods with the processor, and the logs are hauled in and decks built by Louis with the forwarder. The majority of the hauls are going to the Collins mill right there in Lakeview, which means an easy three-chip day.
The self-loader mule train weighs 44,000 pounds empty, and with a pair of drop axles, it has a gross of 105,500. “In Oregon and Washington, we’re able to utilize those drop axles and it helps to maximize our payload.
The Ponsse cut-to-length machines are expensive, partly because they are built overseas in Finland, but at the same time, Terry points out that they are well-built and purposeful, and the company also backs them up with excellent service. “When we had tree-length equipment, we had everything from Cat and Komatsu to Timberjack, but the reason we went with Ponsse is because we had a friend who was a forestry professor at Auburn State University, and he had worked with the President of Ponsee North America. He gave them great reviews, and when we saw them in action, we were very impressed with the performance - they handle bigger timber and limby timber very well, and the saw speed is fast; they’re very fast and very user-friendly.”
Part of the reason for going with the Loglift self-loader, again, was because they have been so happy with the Scandinavian machinery. The loader also has an enclosed cab, which was very nice in Montana with all the cold weather. It’s also a great safety feature because you’re so close to your work, and the cab is constructed of steel and Lexan safety glass all around, so it can take a log hit. The cab also elevates to 16-feet, so there is better visibility when stacking loads up to 14-feet tall.”
You might think that operating a self-loader mule train would be a slow process, but Ted has been clocked at 11 minutes.As for trucks, the guys like the big wide cabs of the Internationals and the heavy-duty 3/8” frame, which handles the weight of the loader really well. The Kenworth they bought used was a great deal and have had no complaints. “They’ve both been really good trucks,” Terry says.
Living on the road, at least for the moment, maintenance and repairs have been a little interesting. L&L has a cargo trailer that they take everywhere along with a 2004 Ford F550 service truck outfitted with a crane, welder and compressor. A retired Frito-Lay van serves as mobile parts and tool storage.
From processing logs, to harvesting them and bringing them to the landing, to loading and hauling, L&L takes their fate into their own hands.
“We’re very self-sufficient,” Terry says.