December 08, 2015

Changing the Forestry Game

In January, our first M-Series harvester rolled off the assembly line at our factory in Dubuque, Iowa. And our first M-Series customer, Andrew Jaroche of Maples Sawmill in Hessel, Michigan, was excited about taking delivery of this machine at a Gold Key Ceremony.

Jaroche was involved in some of the final testing of the M-Series machines. "For Deere to come out and listen to us, a smaller operation, was very impressive. It says a lot about Deere that they took my opinion seriously, and that it would make a difference."

The new 803MH Harvester will be a perfect addition to a logging operation that includes a John Deere feller buncher, two Deere processors, and two forwarders. "We were testing an 859MH, and it worked out great – very productive and absolutely bulletproof. The 803MH is a better fit for our hardwood select-cut system. M-Series machines are really a step forward, with more spacious cabs, better lighting, outstanding visibility, more accessible fuel tanks, and simpler serviceability.

"It's a great opportunity to own the first one. Deere definitely did its homework. They know what they're doing, and it's working. The company has done so much to incorporate customer-inspired changes to the machine, and we know they will throw their full support behind the new product line."

Sawdust in his veins

Twenty-two-year-old Jaroche is a fourth-generation logger. His great-grandfather started the business with simply a John Deere MC Crawler and a chain saw after returning home from World War II. "That crawler dozer got us started using John Deere. And the dependable service we've received in the remote regions of the Upper Peninsula from our Deere dealer, AIS Construction Equipment, has solidified that relationship over the years."

Jaroche was a young boy when his father moved the company to the Upper Peninsula. Over the years they continued to expand, adding a sawmill and maple-syrup operation.

"I grew up with that sawmill in my backyard since I was three years old. I would sit and watch the mill run all day. My grandmother says I have sawdust in my veins. I don't have a choice really; it's something I was born into. I really have a passion for the industry."

Youth Movement

Maples Sawmil hires mainly young loggers. Jaroche knows an influx of youth is needed to keep the industry alive.

"We're looking to employ younger, fresh minds we can mold to do things the way we want – something my father and I have been talking about for a long time. We got tired of brining in 40- and 50-year old guys who do everything a certain way. Sure, these guys were ready to go, but they were not always willing to listen to a 22-year-old about new ways of doing things. So we're trying to instill a different perspective, a more efficient attitude."

"The bottom line is that it is a very lucrative and rewarding industry. There's just an immense amount of opportunity for guys willing to go out and work hard every day."

Sustainable Future

In addition to attracting young people to the industry, Jaroche believes that loggers must change the hearts and minds of those in their community. "Many people in our area don't understand sustainable logging. There's still this common misconception that logging is bad – that the forest is simply cleared away and no one cares about what happens down the road. We have to convince them that attitude is long gone."

Jaroche has done presentations at local festivals about the benefits of logging. "People need to know this industry is very helpful to the environment. You get a lot healthier growth when forests are logged and managed properly. Because ultimately we're harvesting for future generations, not just for today."