A John Deere Publication
Spring 2024

Turning Point


Mississippi logger Edwin Taylor adapts and grows

Clock Icon 6 MIN READ

The year 2005 marked a watershed moment for Edwin Taylor. He started a logging company in 1986 at the age of 18, when he bought a pulpwood truck with a “big stick” loader, as he describes it.

For years, Edwin Taylor & Son Logging ran a single crew. But in 2005, Taylor’s operation became more mechanized. “That’s when I really got started using feller bunchers.”

Beginning around 2010, the company began adding roughly one crew every year. “There’s plenty of timber in this area, and these yards need it,” he says.

Since then, the company has expanded to 10 crews, growth that can be attributed directly to Taylor’s focus on maximizing efficiency while reducing costs. But in 2005, something also happened that changed his perspective and course.

Save it for a rainy day

At a woodyard near his office in Duck Hill, Mississippi, Taylor surveys a seemingly endless mass of hardwood pulp: “That’s 20,000 tons of hardwood down there.”

The impressive mountains of wood represent about 1,000 loads. Taylor purchased the woodyard over two decades ago, which says a lot about his foresight and business acumen.

“The woodyard comes in real handy,” says Taylor. “At the end of the week when we’ve met quota, I have my trucks keep hauling to my yard. Everybody stays busy and keeps the wood moving.”

Then during the winter when the company can’t log because it’s raining, trucks can haul this wood directly from the yard to the mill to fill quotas. “We usually haul more in the wintertime, which is when the mills really want wood,” says Taylor.

Out with the old

Building a large logging operation didn’t happen overnight. Before starting his own company, Taylor would help his father, who was cutting wood for a logger. At the time, most large operations would leave the pulpwood behind. Taylor would follow behind, cutting up the tops with a chain saw and handloading them onto a truck. “I’d do two loads a day and make around $60 a load. That was good money back then.”

After starting his logging company, Taylor worked with his father and uncles for many years. Today he and his son Ryan run the company together. “All we know is moving wood,” observes Ryan. “We have a good relationship.”

“The most valuable thing Dad taught me is you can always spend more than you make,” he adds. “You always need to know how to manage your money.”

For years, that translated into only buying used equipment. Then one summer day in 2005 that all changed. “I had three skidders break down in the woods,” Edwin recalls. “I had five or six people just standing there looking at me. When you are not moving wood, you’re not making money.”

Edwin estimates he’d get around 5,000 hours out of used machines, but when they were past their prime, they declined rapidly and started breaking down. That not only can bring logging operations to a screeching halt; the machines cost a lot to fix and maintain.


In with the new

Edwin called his local John Deere dealer, Stribling Equipment, in nearby Winona. “I told [Territory Sales Manager] Allen Holmes that if he brought me out the new skidder he’d been trying to sell me, I’d buy it,” he remembers.

On a wall of the sprawling rec hall that Edwin owns is a photo of that machine, a John Deere 648G-III. On rainy days, he’ll cook breakfast here for his employees. On the day the crew for The Landing comes calling, he and Ryan share numerous family photos and memories, including that fateful day.

“They had the machine out there the next morning,” Edwin says. “I’ve been buying new John Deere equipment ever since.”

Both Edwin and Holmes remember exactly where they were when Edwin made that call. Like the last line in the movie “Casablanca”, it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Today Edwin Taylor & Son Logging owns over 60 pieces of John Deere equipment, including 648L-II, 848L-II, and 948L-II Grapple Skidders; 843L-II and 643L-II Wheeled Feller Bunchers; and 437E Knuckleboom Loaders.

True to the spirit of Edwin’s advice to Ryan, the company strives to maximize its investment. “We try to take care of the machines and run them until we get the most life out of them,” says Ryan. “We run our Deere machines up to 10,000 to 15,000 hours. We haven’t had much trouble with them, and Stribling is just down the road from us. They’ve always done a great job keeping us up and running.”

Keeping up with Ryan is a full-time job and then some. An anonymous source calls Ryan the hardest-working logger he has ever seen, which is high praise in an industry where 10- to 12-hour days are the norm.

Ryan shrugs off the compliment: “I just do whatever it takes to keep things moving. We live in a logger’s paradise, honestly. The ground is good here. But I do love a challenge. I daydream about swamp logging, but that’s not where we work.”

Fuel and other rising costs are making it more difficult to stay profitable. But reliable John Deere machines and the support of Stribling Equipment helps the company minimize costs. “John Deere machines are just very dependable,” says Edwin. “And we’ve had a great relationship with Stribling that dates back to even before 2005, when we bought parts from them.”

As Edwin and Ryan share more photos of their family and logging operations with our crew, Edwin pauses to reflect. “We both just love logging,” he says. “And I’m grateful to have worked in the woods with Ryan, my father, and uncles. And my wife Tammie and our daughters Amy and Karley work in the office. It’s a family operation.”

Edwin is optimistic about the future, with a new sawmill recently opening in the area and a pellet mill coming online in a few years. “The future is looking good,” he says. And he’s proud to know his family has the knowledge, commitment, and passion to keep it going for generations to come.

Edwin Taylor & Son Logging is serviced by Stribling Equipment, Winona, Mississippi.

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