BUSINESS: Alstat Wood Products
IN BUSINESS SINCE: 1985
LOCATION: Du Quoin, Illinois
DOOSAN MACHINES: DL250TC-5 and DL250TC-3 (two) wheel loaders
DOOSAN DEALER: Bobcat of Marion
Through one conversation from a stranger, Alstat Wood Products of Du Quoin, Illinois, discovered its largest business line.
“We had an individual pull into our sawmill one day – I think it was 2006 or 2005,” says Daniel Alstat, owner of Alstat Wood Products. “He asked my dad how long of a product he could saw. Most mills are set up to cut 15-foot material. And my dad’s mill just happened to be set up where he could cut a 24-foot log.”
This lucky coincidence led to a lucrative business deal. Alstat Wood Products’ highest-selling product at the time was railroad ties. The stranger was looking for a mill that could produce longer logs for use in timber mats. (Alstat Wood Products can now saw logs up to 30 feet.) Contractors use the timber mats to create temporary roadways that enable heavy construction equipment to reach areas without existing roads. To Daniel’s knowledge, no one in his region was making the mats at the time.
That conversation led to an exclusive wholesale agreement between Alstat Wood Products and the company the stranger represented, a supplier near Chicago. The business relationship has been going strong for almost 20 years.
To get its wood, Alstat Wood Products mostly contracts with local logging crews who work on private land in the forests of southern Illinois.
“We’re looking for oak, hickory, ash, maple; basically anything with a leaf,” Daniel says. For building the timber mats, operators in two Doosan® DL250TC wheel loaders will unload trucks of rough logs in the mill. The mill then grades the logs to a uniform size and saws them from eight to 30 feet long, depending on the specific needs. An operator in a third DL250TC will take the logs, which are now in the shape of uniform blocks, out of the sawmill. He’ll place the desired width of blocks onto a drill, where they are drilled and bolted into mats.
New Business Line Leads to New Equipment
Timber mats almost immediately became lucrative for Alstat Wood Products. In fact, in 2008, Daniel’s father bought a new saw mill and a new wheel loader to handle the increased production. The company expanded and added four more wheel loaders, although none of the machines were Doosan models.
Eventually, a sales specialist with Bobcat of St. Louis noticed Alstat Wood Products’ growing fleet of wheel loaders and asked Daniel if he would like to try a Doosan DL250TC-3 wheel loader.
The tool carrier (TC) iterations of the popular DL250 wheel loader provide operators with enhanced visibility to the attachment area. A parallel-lift linkage allows operators to more clearly see the attachment and the material they’re lifting. A good application of this feature is when operators use a bucket to load wood into a horizontal grinder to be processed into a smaller product.
A hydraulic quick coupler simplifies changing attachments on the Doosan machines. Operators inside the DL250TC wheel loaders can easily transition from a bucket for loading wood to a pallet fork to lift and carry logs.
After testing the Doosan machine, Daniel was impressed with its fuel economy.
“The DL250 is actually one size class above the wheel loaders we always had,” Daniel says. “We get better fuel consumption on the Doosan machine than what I was getting on the smaller machines I owned from those other brands.”
That fuel savings matters to Daniel, who says he notices the difference in his expenses.
“For my machine to run all day and use less fuel, and to add that up over a year, it was big for me,” Daniel says. “It turned into a big savings in fuel consumption.” Daniel buys his oil and filters from Doosan, and his on-staff mechanic does maintenance on the machines, which he says is easier with the Doosan wheel loaders.
“When I open the side panels on the Doosan loader, I can actually stick my head in and look around and see the filters,” Daniel says. “Everything is easy to get to. When you open some of the other wheel loaders, you can’t tell where the machine stops and the door begins. It’s all smashed in there.”
Since purchasing his first DL250TC-3 in 2014, Daniel has bought two DL250TC-5 wheel loaders from the local Doosan dealer. And he says he’s has noticed differences in the DL250TC-5 machines compared to his DL250TC-3.
“The newer model has some improvements,” Daniel says. “It's a little bit quicker. A little snappier.”
Daniel says he’s been happy with his machines, and he’ll be considering Doosan when he goes to buy more. Especially because of the service he has received from his salesperson. “He always seems to go that extra little bit to make sure that you’re happy,” Daniel says. “That may not always be the bottom line of what somebody wants, but if you can walk away feeling like they're trying to do their best to make things right for you, it makes you feel a lot better. It definitely makes you want to come back and buy a second machine and then a third machine from them.”
Alstat Wood Products sells railroad ties, pallet material, sawdust, timber mats, mulch and firewood – pretty much any wood product other than furniture lumber. Experience has taught Daniel Alstat that his timber mill needs to be able to adjust its outputs depending on market demand.
“If one product slows down, I can concentrate more on the product that’s not falling down at that point,” Daniel says. “What the customer needs at that moment tops everything else, and then you switch to something else for awhile.”