Business: Osprey Logistics
In business since: 2020
Location: Everett, Washington
Doosan equipment: DL550-5 wheel loader, DX225LL-5 and DX380LL-5 log loaders
Doosan dealer: Cascade Trader
It’s rare for construction equipment to have sea legs. When local timber companies needed help floating material down a waterway, Osprey Logistics came to the rescue. And that solution meant making their machines comfortable in a seaside location.
The Pacific Northwest is well known for both logging and barge transport. This small business found its own way to bridge the two.
Osprey Logistics started in May 2020, in the midst of the global health pandemic. Owner Rob Janicki founded the company to serve the logging community in Northwest Washington.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many logging companies found themselves in a bind, including Rob’s family’s business, Janicki Logging. Any harvested timber on nearby islands or wood meant for overseas transport was stuck. The effects on trade meant they had little to no way to get their timber moved. That’s when Rob realized he had to do something.
“We are working with the San Juan Island County residents to come up with ways to help them cost-effectively remove timber from their lands,” Rob says. “All the barge loading and unloading facilities in the region went out of business when the tariffs on China started happening. So, we didn't have a place to land our barges. We decided we needed to go ahead and start a brand-new business in the middle of the worst pandemic since 1918.”
After leasing some land, Rob worked with Star Marine, a company that owns and operates barges. Together, with Janicki Logging Company providing financing, they built a ramp and set up operations. They now have a staging area for loading and unloading barges and also offer temporary storage.
‘THE PEOPLE ARE REALLY GOOD’
Rob has been a part of the Washington forestry industry since he was young. His father, Stan, started Janicki Logging in 1957. Although Rob took a detour to explore the computer business, he returned to the family logging business. The people pulled him back.
“The people are really good in this industry,” Rob says. “They’re down to earth and honest. You can trust them.”
Another person who has been instrumental to the start of the business is Dennis Buss. Some know him as the procurement manager for Osprey Logistics. Others refer to him affectionately as the Timber Yoda. He met the Janicki family when he was running facilities at tree farms in Washington. Their relationship kept up from there. In all, he has approximately 48 years in the logging industry.
Rob Janicki (left) and Dennis Buss
We decided we needed to go ahead and start a brand-new business in the middle of the worst pandemic since 1918.
HOLD THE SALT, PLEASE
In the past, barges weren’t always necessary for transporting timber. In fact, Dennis remembers simpler times when boats towed rafted logs through the water.
“We used to route logs all the time,” he says. “We’d dump logs in the water, and then we’d tow them from one place to the other, and it went on for years. Maybe 70 years we’ve been doing it, 80 maybe, and that’s the way it was done. But what we have found now, is that most of these mills have a CoGen plant or boilers that feed their fry kilns.”
CoGen plants use the process of cogeneration to produce electricity and heat at the same time. It’s an efficient process that burns excess wood to produce the power. Unfortunately, saltwater can contaminate the wood and cause negative side effects. The salt will melt, coating the boiler and requiring an expensive cleaning process to remove the salt. And as the salt melts, it gives off an emission that pollutes the air. Shutting down the boiler and cleaning it of the salt is necessary.
Transporting trees in Puget Sound’s water isn’t an option anymore if companies want to keep their product versatile. The trees can’t touch the salt water since, according to Dennis, “as soon as the wood hits the water, it starts taking on salt like a cork.”
This is where the barges come in.
BY LAND OR SEA
The decision to get into the barge business fell right into place for Rob and Dennis. Being on a major coast and in a port, transportation by water makes a lot of sense. Not only does it give access to island locations, but traffic becomes less of an issue.
“Trying to get a truck through Seattle or Tacoma, you get one truck a day through there going south,” Dennis says. “And that’s a big problem considering today’s truck rates. As for rail, most of the local trains are unit trains that are going up to Canada with coal and coming back with fuel, so rail rates are tough too. The barge becomes the highway around all that traffic and puts it back on the water.”
TOOLS FOR THE JOB
After setting up their site and hiring a crew, Rob and Dennis purchased equipment for their operations. They bought a Doosan® DL550-5 wheel loader and a DX380LL-5 log loader from Cascade Trader, the local Doosan dealer. Jim Wark and John Griffin of Cascade Trader helped Rob and Dennis through the acquisition process.
The decision came after looking at the financing and previous experience with the brand. Before working for Osprey Logistics, Dennis managed an operation for FORMARK, his previous employer. They used Doosan equipment and were impressed with the reliability, fuel economy and performance.
“We didn’t really know anything about a Doosan machine. Man, that thing was awesome,” Dennis says. “We had to make two passes to unload the truck, but it was the only machine that we had in the log yard, and it did everything over there. The fuel economy was incredible; it never broke down. I mean, it was incredible.”
The DL550-5 wheel loader is the second-largest Doosan model. It features a hydraulic locking front differential, which improves the machine’s traction. That’s something that comes in handy when operating in wet environments. The DX380LL-5 log loader has a loading height of 38 feet and 5 inches, allowing plenty of room to stack logs.
The wheel loader and log loader efficiently load and unload barges when the company has a shipment. The task sounds simple, but the Doosan equipment traverses a narrow ramp. If the machines stray, they could end up in the water. The wheel loader and log loader work in tandem to transport and stack material in the staging area.
PUSHING PAST THE PANDEMIC
Even though Osprey Logistics just got going, Rob already has a vision for what it can become:
“Our main initial product is logs, but over time we expect to be handling containers and rock aggregate chips, bark and topsoil,” Rob says. “Pretty much any bulk product that people want to put on and off of the barge, we will have that capability.
“We have a lot of land there in Everett [Washington] and I could envision us getting into a much bigger distribution opportunity that goes beyond barges,” Rob says. “There could be a lot of synergy because there’s over 100 acres of potential industrial land in this area.”
Though the pandemic prompted the creation of Osprey Logistics, Rob and Dennis now look forward to the future of the company. There is uncertainty, but there is also excitement for what they’re achieving.
“That’s why we’re so excited about it, because there hasn’t been any real barging done,” Dennis says. “There’s been some log barging done around this area in the last few years but barging like we plan on doing hasn’t been done for a long, long time. So, this is a real opportunity.”