2021 Outstanding forestry Contractor of the Year nominees
The Canadian Woodlands Forum would like to congratulate all forestry contractors and their staff who were nominated for this award! Having been nominated recognizes your commitment to responsible environmental performance, employee safety and training, and professional business practices.
The 2021 nominees are:
The CWF is proud to support today’s forestry professionals!
Hudson Harvesting Inc.
Dan Hudson, Penniac, NB
Nominated by J.D. Irving Woodlands
Dan Hudson of Hudson Harvesting Inc. is based out of Penniac, NB. Dan gained experience with equipment having grown up on a farm and working on the family woodlot. He took a different path to becoming a harvesting contractor where he studied forestry at UNB, worked in silviculture for three years, and then served as a supervisor from 2012 to 2014 with J.D. Irving Woodlands. Commercial thinning (CT) was expanding at that time, and he saw it as an opportunity to become a thinning contractor as a means to follow the desire to own his own business. He purchased his first harvester, a Komatsu 901, in 2014, adding a second harvester in 2016 and a forwarder in 2019, working for JD Irving primarily in the Chipman area.
Dan is passionate about making his operation a success. He knows his numbers and keeps his crew informed by way of daily ‘tailgate meetings’. Safety is always number one, with no ‘loss-time’ accidents in seven years of operating. He is on the job every day, and still sits in the seat three hours a day.
He has developed a unique approach to operating all three machines on multi-shift schedules in order to achieve maximum utilization. One harvester is scheduled 9 + 10 + his 3 hours, where the second harvester runs 3 shifts (6 am to 2 pm, the next overlapping 1 to 9 pm, and nightshift from 9 pm to 6 am. The forwarder runs 5 am to 3 pm and another 10 hours at night, starting anywhere from 3 to 7 pm. The operators also prefer to stay on their assigned day or night shifts rather than switch every week or two. The multi-shift approach allows the operators family time and running 8 to 10 scheduled machine hours leads to high productivity.
In addition to the multi-shift scheduling, the operation provides above average wages, a bonus payment system for achieving quality and productivity targets, sick pay, an OT policy, and supplied travel to the job site, all contributing to minimal operator turnover. Regular refresher training helps operators meet productivity targets consistently.
Dan’s spouse is also involved in the business as bookkeeper, tracking costs, monitoring the financials, and delivering parts when needed. Their machines are typically replaced every three years in order to maximize machine utilization and keep maintenance costs under control.
Maintenance is kept in house as much as possible, with all operators having regular service tasks. The operation is supported by a well-equipped service trailer with the necessary tools and inventory of fast-moving parts.
Commercial thinning operations are challenging due to tree size, especially with fluctuating softwood pulpwood markets. When visiting their active operation, in order to help forwarder production, the harvester operators were building larger piles when possible.
Dan Hudson’s operation shows what teamwork, a focus on work-life balance, determination and smart management can achieve over a short number of years in operation.
Gosson Enterprises Ltd.
Steve Gosson, Saint John, NB
Nominated by J.D. Irving Woodlands
Steve Gosson has been hauling out of the woods for the past nine years, but he is no debutant to the transportation industry. He grew up around his father’s trucking business in Saint John. With that inspiration and ambition, he spent the next 20 years hauling B train tankers with Irving Oil and another 10 years with Day & Ross, providing him the experience and ‘tricks of the trade’ of running a successful trucking business.
Then in 2012 he saw an ad for hauling from the woods with J.D. Irving Woodlands (JDI) and made the business decision to switch to on/off highway hauling. Starting with a single quad semi chip van, he started hauling from JDI’s flail chippers in southern NB and from northern Nova Scotia on occasion. Where there was plenty to learn about woods hauling, and as Steve’s knowledge and comfort level increased, he added a second unit in 2015 and a third unit to the fleet in 2020 as part of a planned progression.
Most of the hauling is from the woods, with sawmill runs as required and coordinated by JDI’s dispatch system. All three units run on five days - 24 hours and with Steve’s approach to equipment replacement purchases (replaces tractors every 2 years and trailers every 3 years), it results in the potential for very high truck utilization.
There is also a strong focus on ‘smart spec’ing’ of his tractors and trailers which lead to low tare weights and components that meet the challenges of chip hauling from the woods. Steve has introduced and shared more than one idea that has eventually been adopted by the rest of the flail hauling fleet.
To achieve high utilization of his trucks, Steve maintains a strong focus on preventative maintenance, with major services and repairs completed at the dealers including tire work which is done at tire shops in Saint John and Sussex. To manage his overhead and not wanting the cost of running a shop, all the minor maintenance and repair is done out of the back of his half ton with additional spare parts out of his home garage.
Talking to Steve, you soon appreciate that he is truly passionate about the trucking business. He sets clear expectations for his drivers in all aspects of the business, from safety, to production, to cost control. Attention to his business numbers and detail is his forte. He sees his job as one of supporting his employees, communicating regularly with all of them.
Six regular drivers plus one part time and himself keep the trucks moving year-round. Employee turnover is minimal, in part due to offering a full health plan, sick day policy and RSP sharing, as well as a weekly bonus system. Working the typical 12 hour shift common to the business, all are home every day. His spouse maintains the books along with tracking the business costs.
In-house (Gosson Enterprises) safety meetings are held every three months, including a refresher in putting on tire chains before the winter hits. This focus on communication and safety, in addition to JDI courses and spring meetings have led to an excellent safety record with no lost time accidents! The operations are well run and meet stringent compliance requirements i.e. overweight, no small feat hauling from a ‘blow in the back’ flail chipper.
As a successful forest trucking contractor, Steve Gosson sets a high bar for himself, yet is willing to share all that he has learned to help others in the sector, as well as supporting his local community.
Mira Forestry Development Ltd.
Gary Reginato, Albert Bridge, NS
Nominated by Port Hawkesbury Paper
Gary grew up around woods equipment operated by his father, and in 1986, Gary and his wife Dale established Mira Forestry Development. In the early years, they focussed on private land silviculture and harvesting in eastern Cape Breton, starting out as a manual trail cutting operation. In the early 2000’s, they purchased their first harvester, allowing them to expand the harvesting operation to supply pulpwood to Port Hawkesbury Paper, softwood studs and logs, and hardwood for their own sizeable firewood operation.
Clearly having an entrepreneurial spirit, they were in the hardwood flooring business in the early 2000’s, shipping to Germany, and most recently, they have moved boldly into the wood heat business – designing, building and operating wood chip heating systems for two large schools in the CBRM area.
Today, Gary and Dale are joined by their two sons, Ryan and Landon in the business where they look after the trucking and firewood operations and the wood chip heating operation respectively. Even though it is very competitive for labour in the area, Mira’s workforce is very stable, with most employees having over 17 years of service. The company has 13 employees – five operators and three at the woodyard, one forest technician who does all the planning and layout and four family members involved in managing the business.
The move into chipping for heating, a dream of Gary’s going back 30 years, has opened up some unique opportunities for their private land harvesting operation. Often challenged by mixed wood stands with a high ratio of unmerchantable stems, there is now a cost-effective outlet for hardwood tops less suitable for firewood, as well as full tree stems of unmerchantable diameter softwood and hardwood.
Operating exclusively on small non-industrial private lands and on one shift, their current equipment-mix fits well; this includes one feller-buncher doing the initial sort for two processors, all of which are on JD 753 carriers. All products are moved roadside by two older 1010 forwarders where both softwood roundwood and higher value hardwood are trucked right away; hardwood firewood five inches and up is moved to the firewood processor as needed. The tops and small full trees will dry at roadside where it will be chipped by a new truck mounted Mus-MAX drum chipper, blowing into a live floor trailer for direct delivery to the two heating plants.
To support their operations, they build approximately six to eight km of road per year using a company owned excavator. Rather than extending the road network, the excavator is often used to upgrade forwarding trails to increase productivity.
The new harvesting method also means less maintenance on harvesting heads where those rough Cape Breton hardwood limbs and tops are now destined for the chipper. The harvesting site that was visited is being managed under the Cape Breton Private Land Partnership and having only the limbs and softwood tops to deal with, is now ideal for follow up treatments – i.e. planting - even without site prep in most cases.
Being very community minded, Mira Forestry are long time supporters of local school teams and the Vince Ryan Hockey tournament.
A.K. Goodwin enterprises limited
John & Crystal Goodwin, Southhampton, NS
Nominated by Great Northern Timber (GNT)
Both John & Crystal Goodwin come from families with a long history of logging, sawmilling and maple syrup, dating back to the 1800’s. Situated in Southhampton, Nova Scotia, the present company was started by his father in the late 1940’s, first in logging, then into small engine sales and repairs.
John took over the company 27 years ago; today A.K. Goodwin Enterprises Limited provides a full range of harvesting treatments in all stand types as well as trucking roundwood with five self-loaders and operating one or two full tree chippers for the biomass market when there is demand.
The business employs over 25 people and is definitely a family affair with John’s spouse, Crystal looking after the financial side of the business along with John’s two sons, Nick and Alex taking on both operational and repair/maintenance supervision & support. One full time employee looks after the office i.e. admin, parts, maintenance, and implementing their certified safety program.
They are very strategic and wise with any capital purchases, often focused on ‘good used’ which they then “re-life” before putting to work, allowing them to operate entirely single shift. This works with a comprehensive inhouse maintenance program, including one day-shift mechanic, supported by a large inventory of spare parts. On the trucking side, they currently operate with five self loaders, and would have more if not for the driver shortage; all trucks return to the shop for ‘out of shift’ service and repair, with one steady nightshift mechanic. Service trucks with slip tanks supply transportation and fuel. At the end of shift – only the machines spend the night.
When visited, they were operating nine harvesters and six forwarders. Treatments ranged from single tree and group selection in hardwood, to commercial thinning in softwood and selection harvest in mixed wood stands. Formerly a feller-buncher based operation, they are almost entirely harvester based today, keeping one buncher for specific treatments and stand parameters (high UMT’s). Diversification is not just between treatments, but also working for three different large landowner companies, along with some small private land work.
A very stable workforce is the result of John’s solid leadership & work ethic, very competitive wages and full health benefits. Daily communication with all the employees by John, Nick and Alex keeps ahead of any operational or maintenance issues with a strong emphasis on safety, job quality and machine utilization. The way John puts it; his job is to provide support to the employees, so they can focus on getting the best job done.
Perhaps unique for a harvesting contractor, they operate a large sugar bush, dating back to pre confederation, now running 25,000 to 30,000 taps annually. For the 2022 season, they have upgraded their reverse osmosis system to further improve syrup production.
In addition to running one of the largest & successful “stump to dump” forestry companies in Nova Scotia, their involvement in the local community is an important part of their lives. Managing the local cemetery, supporting the community center, ball teams, snowmobile club and horse-riding events complete already full calendars.