When the National Weather Service issued a winter warning in January 2017, Don Meng, owner of Meng Logging, didn’t think the storm would amount to much. But when high winds and snow whipped across the Northwest, hitting the town of Molalla, Oregon (pop. 9,139), Meng realized that the high winds were going to cause some damage. Major cleanup efforts took place in the town immediately following the storm; however, thousands of blown-down Douglas fir and Western Hemlock trees remained, located 35 miles southeast of Portland in the foothills of the Cascade Range.
This major project would require Meng Logging to use the right mix of forestry equipment, including three Doosan® log loaders, to help salvage the downed timber.
“Doosan machines have proved to be very dependable and reliable, especially while working at elevations ranging from 2,700 feet to more than 4,500 feet,” Meng says. “Using the DX380LL-5, we’ve been able to move approximately 15 to 25 loads a day, which is good for the type of timber we are working in.”
For this specific project in the Cascade Range, an area Meng refers to as his backyard, he uses a combination of steep-slope and clear-cut logging to effectively remove timber. The first step consists of using a steep-slope machine to cut all of the standing logs and position them directionally toward the road. The crew then processes and loads the logs for transport using Doosan log loaders.
“Loading timber on a log truck may sound easy, but it requires precision and a good piece of equipment,” Meng says. “Prior to using Doosan log loaders, my crew was constantly repositioning the machines. I’ve found Doosan machines are very maneuverable, plus they have solid horsepower and strength, making it easy on my crew to effectively load more.”
In addition, LED lighting helps Meng and his six operators begin their work at 1 a.m. to get a head start on the humidity and heat. The crew typically puts in an 11-hour work day depending on the project.
“Safety is No. 1 in this line of business,” Meng says. “My operators need to see what they are doing at all times.”
In His Roots
Meng was not raised in the logging industry. His family lived in town. When Meng graduated from high school in the 1970s, he decided to make a change and bought his first log truck, hauling logs from remote forest locations to lumber mills for a living. A few years later, Meng met his wife while hauling and loading logs for her father, then he moved into thinning, clear cuts and shovel logging. Two years ago, he took the leap into steep-slope logging.
“I had grown tired of trucking and was looking for a new challenge,” Meng says. “Once I was a full-time logger, I realized this was the life for me. Plus, the demand for timber was steady so I could make a living. You know, most of the time, I love being a logger, but sometimes I don’t. It just depends on how things are going, but when it comes down to it, I would much rather come out here, work in a beautiful setting, than I would driving to Portland and working in an office.”
To build up his business, Meng purchased a fleet of Doosan log loaders from Feenaughty Machinery, his local Doosan equipment dealer in Portland, Oregon, to help expedite log-loading and shovel-logging tasks.
“A safe and successful timber harvesting operation is dependent on the equipment that is used,” Meng says. “And in this dangerous line of business, the machine needs to perform well under pressure, like a surgeon, when harvesting timber. Once I had demoed a Doosan DX300LL-3, I knew the machine was the right fit.” This purchase led to a second Doosan purchase and then three more.
“The Doosan brand was relatively unknown to me and other loggers in the area at the time,” Meng says. “In fact, I was one of the first customers to buy a Doosan DX380LL-5 log loader in the area. But, in the last four years, I’ve added four more machines to my fleet. I’m seeing Doosan orange on other logging sites.”
Salvaging timber with ease
As an experienced logger, Meng has seen the progression of heavy equipment technology and how it has impacted the productivity of his crew. Previously, trees on steep slopes were felled by hand and harvested using cable yarder methods, making it a very dangerous profession. However, continuous improvements in forest engineering and operations have helped maximize all aspects of the harvest, including worker productivity and safety.
“Today, we rarely have men on the ground,” Meng says. “We strictly rely on the equipment to get the job done. I know that my men are going to be in a safer position in a machine than they would be on the ground.”
Newer technology also means complying with ecological demands and being aware of fuel consumption, Meng adds. “Fuel consumption is always something I am thinking about,” he says. “I really like the fact that I can run the Doosan machines for a lot longer than other competitive machines. I’m not burning near the fuel that I used to, plus it cuts down on environmental effects.”
At the end of the shift, Meng and his crew make sure to fill up the machines with fuel, plus conduct other maintenance procedures to make sure the equipment is up and running the next morning.
“Every day after work, the machines are greased and checked over,” Meng says. “We also change the oil and take care of other servicing needs, like fuels, oils and filters, as recommended by the manufacturer. Downtime costs money, so anytime we have a machine broken down we are losing production. And logging is a production game. The more loads a day we get out, the more money we are making.”
Reliable equipment and keeping true to old-time values, such as closing a sale with a simple handshake, has proven to be very successful for Meng. In fact, he’s been following this business practice for more than three decades, making a name for himself in the community. He has no plans to stop anytime soon.
“We enjoy living, working and raising a family in Molalla where logging was a way of life and a man’s word was as good as a written contract,” Meng says. “When I started my own logging business, I relied on truth and trust, and I will continue to operate on those values for years to come.”