Treeline Inc.’s Forest Management Priority Assisted by Peterson Chippers
Speed and reliability make Peterson chipper an excellent fit for a diversified company. www.TimberLineMag.com
By Diane M. Calabrese
LINCOLN, Maine – If it’s a task related to forest management, Treeline Inc. does it. From road construction to chipping and trucking, the company engages in all of the activities required to be an integral part of an industry that embraces sustainable forestry.
Treeline Inc. emphasizes “forest management first,” said Brian Souers, the owner of the company he founded in 1981. Brian likens forest management to garden management.
A gardener holds the vegetables in sight, but there will not be much to harvest without preparatory and maintenance activities along the way. “Our crop is trees,” said Brian. “The only difference is instead of a four- to six-month rotation, we have a 25- to 75-year rotation.”
Road building, maintaining property lines, developing management and harvest plans — and carrying out plans with logging crews, are foundational components of Treeline. “We also develop some of the higher-valued land for recreation or other uses,” said Brian. “We have a land sales division called the Maine Land Store.”
Today, Treeline has 68 employees and a large roster of equipment. It’s quite a different company than it was when Brian started it 34 years ago with a chainsaw and a horse named Captain.
What has never changed, however, is Brian’s commitment to management of forestland. As such, he weighs carefully the recommendations from industry colleagues. Some of those recommendations led to him adding two Peterson 4310B track-mounted drum chippers to his operation; the first one was added two years ago.
The demonstration proved the capabilities of the Peterson 4310B in short order. “We had never chipped more than 12 loads in a day,” said Brian. “We had 18 loads of wood piled up. We chipped that in a day and had time left over.”
The speed with which the Peterson 4310B produced chips was not the only thing that Brian appreciated about the chipper. “We were very impressed with the design and engineering of the machine,” he said. “We also felt that the dealer’s reputation was well deserved.”
The dealer, Barry Equipment, is located in Webster, Mass. Mike Conway, the sales representative at Barry Equipment with whom Brian worked, recalled first meeting Brian at a tradeshow in Bangor, Maine. Since then, he has visited job sites of Treeline many times, as he visits all clients to get a thorough understanding of their equipment needs.
The Peterson 4310B is a good fit for Treeline, said Mike. “It’s extremely fuel efficient,” he explained. And the tracks, which add to its stability and enhance maneuverability in all terrains, and “easy maintenance” are other important features.
Peterson is located in Eugene, Ore. It specializes in manufacturing equipment that converts low-grade material to high-value products.
“The Peterson 4310B has proved to be a good choice,” said Brian. “The machines have performed well and the dealer has met our expectations.”
There are “many things” to like about the Peterson 4310 track-mounted drum chipper, said Brian. “The knives are durable, resulting in low knife cost. Fuel consumption is lower than what we see on other chippers, both smaller and larger. We like the water system they offer. Maintenance is relatively easy. Production is steady. Reliability has been high.”
A 765 horsepower C18 Caterpillar engine powers the Peterson 4310B. The Peterson 4310B is designed for frequent moves and high production. The Peterson drum chipper can be fed brush or small stock to 24-inch logs. The operator of the Peterson 4310B gets a read of complete engine and system parameters from the LCD display on the control panel.
Each Peterson 4310B sees about 1,000 hours of service per year at Treeline. They are part of an extensive equipment roster.
To trim, thin and harvest trees, Treeline relies on feller bunchers and hot saws. It has used many John Deere 753 feller bunchers over the years. “We have recently purchased several Tigercat 822s,” said Brian. There are also two additional chippers at work.
Treeline can run six or so jobs concurrently. It serves customers in central and northern Maine. Treeline is based in Lincoln, Maine, a town of 5,000 in the east-central part of the state. Lincoln is part of Penobscot County.
Species of trees in central and northern Maine include not only the state tree of white pine, but also spruce, hemlock, balsam, and many species of deciduous trees. Capable of accepting a mix of softwood and hardwood species, as well as a mix of brush, branches and so on, the Peterson 4310B is well-suited to the full variety of the day-to-day endeavors at Treeline.
Before Brian started his company, he worked as a forester for International Paper Company. He had studied forestry at the New York State School of Forestry, spending one year focused on technical topics in Syracuse, N.Y. and a second year of practical immersion in ranger school.
With the inception of Treeline, Brian envisioned a way to make a deeper contribution to sustainable forestry. “I wanted to be innovative in the area of improving silvicultural treatments in the forest,” he said. The innovation would contribute to “growing trees faster and better.”
A 55-ton low bed trailer is used to move the Peterson 4310B chippers to job sites. Chipping, however, is not the first priority. “We sort and grade all we can,” said Brian.
In addition to selling to saw mills, Treeline also sells tree-length wood for firewood to local homeowners. It does not process firewood.
All the chips that are produced by the two Peterson 4310B track-mounted drum chippers are sold to companies that burn the chips to generate electricity. Chips are sold to facilities in central and northern Maine.
“We have enjoyed an excellent relationship with Covanta, Re Energy, Expera, LP&T, Verso and SAPPI,” said Brian. “The market ebbs and flows…We plan to be there for all of them when they need us.”
In addition to its multifaceted activities on behalf of the forest management, Treeline is involved in land sales. “We sell higher-valued property to clients of all kinds,” said Brian. “Many times we owner-finance these sales, which allows many people to own land that otherwise may not be able to.”
With so many activities being a part of Treeline Inc., there is still a constant that unites them: Care in all things.
“Above all else, stay safe,” said Brian, is where his guiding philosophy in business begins. It continues: “Take good care of the customer. Take good care of [tools] and equipment. And our company – Treeline – will be able to take good care of our people.”
Brian is a full participant in the wood products industry. A member of the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine, he is also the current present of its board. And he belongs to the Forest Resources Association.
On the more personal side of the equation of being a business owner, Brian explained that the people he has the opportunity to work with – employees and customers and clients – are “awesome.” They make the profession he has chosen especially enjoyable.
“We care very much about our people, their families and our customers and clients,” said Brian. “We express this concern in many ways. We invest whatever we need to and place the highest priority on people staying safe. We celebrate our people’s success through incentives and awards. We engage our customers and clients by inviting them to most of our company events. We celebrated 30 years in business by taking our entire team and their families on a seven-day cruise.”
For Peterson, its dealers, which are in direct contact with customers, provide a source of feedback that informs design of equipment. In Barry Equipment and Treeline Inc., Peterson has a perfect example of tight, considered interaction.
“Although we had heard about the good reputation of Barry Equipment, I called many of their customers before buying,” said Brian. “They all said the same thing: no one beats Barry Equipment’s service.”
Mike at Barry Equipment, which is owned and operated by Tom and Trish Barry, would welcome the assessment. “We’re a family owned company,” he explained. “We are extremely service oriented. We listen to our customers’ needs.” Barry Equipment has been named the Peterson Dealer of the Year for three consecutive years.
It’s a genuine pleasure, said Mike, to work with Treeline, which is also “a family-owned company that employs many people.”
Reflecting on the scope of Treeline Inc., Brian developed a concise assessment. “We are anything-that-happens-in-the-Maine-forest,” he said. That is anything that serves the good, long-term and sustainable future of the Maine forest.
In his free time, Brian enjoys a bit of a respite. “I have a shack on an island with very little phone service,” he said. “Within a couple of hours of being on the island, I can completely relax.”