CLC Logging


Oct 12, 2011

“Komatsu builds quality into the machines”

Harvesting and processing lumber from the woods to mills involves several steps. One of the first is building a road into the forest so that trucks can get equipment in and out, as well as haul out logs as they’re harvested.

Logs go to area mills, where they’re stored before being turned into all types of lumber and pulp products. CLC Logging, and its sister company, Cowan Brothers Transport, are involved in nearly every step.

“About the only thing we don’t do is cut the trees,” said Supervisor Jay Cowan, who along with his brother Clay, operates Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan-based CLC Logging and Cowan Brothers Transport. “We used to do that back when our dad founded CLC in 1994, but we sold that portion of the business.”

The Cowans’ focus is now threefold; first, CLC Logging stores and moves logs at the Tolko Industries mill in Meadow Lake. Twenty dedicated people work shifts that cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at the mill, which produces oriented strand boards. CLC estimates it handles between 800,000 and 900,000 tonnes of logs per year at the yard, including putting them in water “cells” for 24 hours to wash them and make them easier to debark. Later, it feeds the logs into the plant, where they’re used to make lumber.

In addition to stacking, storing and feeding logs at the plant, CLC collects processing waste that’s later used as fuel for heating up the mill’s boilers and presses.

A second focus is CLC Logging’s work with logging companies, building roads into logging sites and reclaiming them after a project is finished. The third area of focus is Cowan Brothers Transport, which contracts to load and haul logs from the logging sites to area mills. The Cowans estimate they have built more than 40 kilometres of road and hauled about 400,000 tonnes of wood.

“Considering that logging is fairly seasonal, that’s a very good volume,” noted Clay. “We’re able to do that because we understand the industry and its demands. We grew up working in the woods. Our employees also deserve a good deal of credit for our success. They’re dedicated to ensuring our customers are well taken care of.”

SMS, Komatsu always deliver

In addition to a dedicated work force, CLC Logging relies heavily on Komatsu equipment at logging sites and in the mill. The company runs PC220LL log loaders — including a new Dash-8 model — and PC270LCs on logging sites to load everything from eight to 60-foot logs onto trucks. Komatsu D65PX and D85EX dozers work on road building and restoring, and a PC220LC excavator is used to help construct culverts and berms. At the mills, CLC employs PC300LLs.

“Because we’re working around the clock at the mill, it’s imperative to have equipment that’s both productive and reliable,” observed Jay, noting that puts a significant number of hours on a machine in a short amount of time. “Komatsu is our machine of choice for that reason, as well as the fact that it lasts. Other than the new one, the other log loaders at the mill all have more than 20,000 hours on them. We even have one with 50,000 hours.”

“We’re able to do that because Komatsu builds quality into the machines,” Clay added. “Sure, there are components that wear out, and we’ve replaced an engine, but the base machine is still in good shape and holds up well. Komatsu machines just keep going.”

When the Cowans do need parts, or additional help in repairs and maintenance, they call on SMS Equipment’s Saskatoon branch. “Our relationship with SMS Equipment is one on which we place a high value,” acknowledged Jay. “They’ve bent over backwards to help us every time we’ve called. A few times when they didn’t have a part on hand, they were able to get us one the next day from another SMS branch. The level of service we get from the parts and service departments, as well our Sales Representative Bob Arsenault and PSSR Larry Kuznitsoff, is very high.”

Considering expansion

While the Cowans have always focused their attention on the logging industry, they’re not opposed to looking at other opportunities to expand the business, should they arise.

“If the right situation comes along that we can take advantage of, we’ll certainly take a shot,” said Clay. “The oil and gas industries are just now starting to come into this region, so that’s an area we can consider expanding into. Our road-building experience can be used in site preparation, for example. We also have trucking experience, which can be helpful.”

“Obviously, if that detracts from our ability to take care of our current customers, we’d have to reconsider,” concluded Jay. “Our growth and success have been dependant on our ability to provide a high level of customer satisfaction. That will remain our highest aspiration.”