Annual Report | Logging: Family's three generations of loggers keep tradition going
SOLWAY - Entering its third generation of loggers, the Lundberg family has been in the logging business since the late 1950s and they know all too well how much of a rollercoaster the industry can be.
"Lumber is what I know, and nothing else is that special," said Dan Lundeberg, second generation owner of Lundberg Forestry Products. "Everything is going to have its cycles and the people that don't understand that are going to have a miserable life."
Lundberg, 48, followed in his dad Paul's footsteps, growing up on a piece of land just south of Solway, helping his dad, using a pickaroon to straighten out the sticks. After high school he started trucking, spending his time driving back and forth from the forests to the mills, learning the business.
Lundberg said he has seen the logging business change from people using a power saw to cutting the trees down to today's equipment, which has made the business far more efficient and taken out a lot of the manual labor.
"There isn't a whole lot of manual labor," Lundberg said. "We might not even start a power saw for two to three months at a time nowadays."
Lundberg said the lumber market has also changed due to the elimination of the smaller mills over the last 20 years and more recently with Ainsworth closing its oriented strand board plant east of Bemidji.
Lundberg said the lumber business is all about cutting down trees and driving a lot of miles to distribute it. He recently finished cutting a site near Bear Den, where he took the pulp to Norbord, some of the lumber to Potlach, the bigger cuts went to Bagley, the balsam fir is scheduled to go to Duluth, the spruce to Grand Rapids and the aspen was taken to International Falls.
"It's a market," Lundberg said. "It's not something we do all the time as far as the spruce and balsam stuff."
Lundberg said it is important not to burn any bridges with the mills in the area because it is important to keep the market options open.
There has been a push for loggers to utilize every last stick and twig of the trees they cut down, grinding it down into biomass to use for power companies. Lundberg said it is a great idea but there needs to be a local market for the biomass for loggers to justify hauling the scraps.
Lundberg said there is a competitive mindset among loggers when it comes to stumpage. He goes to timber auctions where he buys wood and some where he is not able to because other loggers beat him to it.
"You can have one now or then to get the contract full and keep busy that you are not going to make some money on," Lundberg said. "But in general you have to make enough money to pay the fuel bill, the insurance bill and the help or you can't continue."
Lundberg said he has grown to enjoy the business because there will always be trees to cut down and though the markets climb and fall, he has been able to live happily off of them through the years. He hopes to continue working as a logger for another 20 years or so before letting his sons Matt, 26, and Kyle, 19 take over. The two followed in their dad's footsteps, giving Lundberg Logging its third generation of workers.
"I didn't encourage them but they started helping as soon as they could be out there," Lundberg said. "School wasn't their thing and I wasn't going to force them to go to school."