In 1989, Brent Daniels launched his logging business with a Ford pickup truck and a trailer to haul both logs and equipment. He rented a log skidder and delivered logs to sawmills with his truck and the trailer.
By the year 2000, Daniels, who is based in Mooresville, Indiana, had expanded his equipment fleet to include three skidders, three rubber-tired loaders, a semi-truck and trailer. Business was good, and his volume in timber of all kinds grew to about 1.5 million board feet of timber per year.
Today, Daniels is more selective about the timber he harvests. It's more profitable to focus on harvesting high-grade hardwood and veneer logs - walnut, white oak, cherry, and red oak. So his annual volume is reduced to less than 1 million board feet, but his profit has climbed by 50 percent.
"These days I pick and choose my tracts more carefully," says Daniels. "In the early years I was trying to build volume. I thought I had to harvest every tree I could in central Indiana."
What People Want.
In fact, Daniels has carved out a niche as a logger with smaller equipment that doesn't make a big footprint on the land. "Most loggers have larger equipment, larger log landings, larger trails and larger access roads," says Daniels. "I can do low-impact logging with smaller equipment, smaller landing, smaller trails, and smaller access. That's what people want when they select-harvest these 10- to 100-acre tracts in central Indiana."
That explains why Daniels likes his Volvo L35 compact loader so much. After the skidders drag logs to the landing, the compact loader sorts and stacks the logs. "With the loader I can sort logs into 10 or 12 decks, but a knuckleboom loader couldn't do that - it has limited reach," says Daniels.
The compact Volvo L35 features low ground pressure, yet it can lift and load heavy logs. Most of the timber Daniels cuts is large-diameter hardwood; he doesn't do pulpwood or tracts of small timber. "A lot of land owners are impressed with how I can move logs out with this loader, then use it to clean up the landing and the trails," says Daniels. "A knuckleboom loader can just load logs. It can't carry logs or clean up the landing."
In the late 1990s, the state of Indiana began requiring loggers to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs). Those include grading for grass seeding, placing mulch in selected areas, and building water bars and installing rip-rap for erosion control. Water bars are small terraces that control soil erosion by slowing and diverting the downhill flow of storm-water.
"This Volvo loader gives me the versatility to handle all those tasks," says Daniels. "When the state implemented BMPs, I didn't have to buy any new equipment. Some people say that to build a water bar you need a bulldozer. But I say I can build a better water bar with this Volvo loader, because in certain situations I can compact and smooth the water bar and then install rip-rap. With a dozer you couldn't do all those things."
Daniels bought the Volvo L35 in January 1999. He had run non-Volvo loaders, but says he likes the L35 the best. "I like the quick-attach forks and bucket," says Daniels. "It has good maneuverability and features excellent visibility. Other loaders were slow and heavy and would compact the farm fields. This loader has the traction and the clearance to go into the woods and build water diversion bars.