Hot and Cold: Jason Watts Notes the Ups and Downs of the Pulpwood Market
Watts Logging Inc. owner Jason Watts, 37, knows what too much of a good thing can sometimes be. As an operator focusing primarily on first thinnings, it’s good for him that pulpwood demand remains steady. Unfortunately, as with so many cruel ironies of the logging business, a good market for pulpwood can also spell trouble for pulpwood producers. The market gets glutted quickly as mills find too many eager suppliers. In February, Watts said his primary mill outlet was only 20 minutes from the job site, but trucks were facing better than three-hour turnarounds. “It’s backed up like a soup line,” he says. “I knew it was gonna happen. The building side is no good so everybody is cutting pulpwood.”
One area where he doesn’t see too much of a good thing: productive uptime in the woods. “When you’re able to work, you need to be working, not in a shop with something broken down.” That’s his philosophy, and that’s why he believes in keeping newer equipment rather than maintaining older machines. He turns over equipment roughly every three years, after it is paid off but before it reaches 6,000 hours (he notes that the warranty is up at 5,000 hours). “For me, that is better than repair costs.” He notes several other reasons for keeping new equipment, including tax incentives that allow the owner to claim depreciation.
A Boom of Her Own
Amber Yokum handles heavy logs many times her weight and doesn’t think twice about it. Not that it’s easy. She’s clear on that point, especially to guys who don’t believe it’s a tough job because a girl is doing it.
Commitment Keeper: Paul Gunter's Faith, Name and Timber Buying Skills Sustain Him During Tough Times
Paul Gunter, 62, made a commitment 45 years ago when he started logging. “I’d cut and, when my help didn’t show up, my wife would operate the skidder. We didn’t have a grapple so I would have to hook the cables for her and she would pull the logs out,” he recalls. “It was really hard work. It would have been very easy to quit.”
Sterling Opportunity: Third Generation Adam Sterling Steps Up to the Plate in Southwest Mississippi
February 1 is a red letter date for 29-year-old Adam Sterling. It was on this date five years ago that he realized his lifelong ambition to have his own logging job. “I’ve got logging in my blood,” he says. “I got it from both sides—my mom’s dad, my dad’s dad and my dad were all in it.” Three uncles—each married to sisters of his dad, Aubrey Sterling, also own logging businesses in southwest Mississippi.