Valiant Log Sort Case Study
Lance Ouwehand, Owner and President of Valiant Log Sort, took on the challenge of his lifetime when he purchased the land of a shut down sawmill operation to start a log sort operation. Ouwehand purchased the facility in the early 1980’s but it wasn’t his first exposure to the site or the forestry related industry in general. The site had a sawmill operation there for more than 120 years which was ran by the Thomas family. Ouwehand was very close with the family, and worked at the mill for many years, starting there as a teenager. “I spent a lot of time there—at 28, I had pretty much learned everything you needed to know to keep a mill going,” said Ouwehand. “I had one piece of equipment to get it rolling, and then got another. And another, and another.”
Ouwehand always envisioned owning his own business but never imagined it would manifest into the large-scale operation it is today with upwards to 30 pieces of equipment, over 40 years of operation and 4 log sort sites in total including Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge, Princeton and Washington state. Initially, the operation did not do any chipping—but it has kept with the times and diversifying needs of the industry including wood processing, wood recycling, biomass and co-gen. Today it has large chip supply contracts with major pulp and paper mills throughout Western Canada and USA.
With the shutdown and curtailment of many sawmills in B.C.—mills that would be pumping chips into the fibre supply chain, for pulp and paper mills, the chips that his equipment is producing are more in demand than ever. “It’s difficult to keep up with the demand—but we will keep up,” says Ouwehand.
In order to keep up with the market demands, Valiant Log Sort needed to look at adding a new piece of equipment to their existing fleet which included two other portable log chippers. Ouwehand notes that Valiant is employing its chippers in a different way than most other users, in that in its locations, the chippers are stationary, rather than portable, as they would be in the bush.
In 2018, Lance Ouwehand initially engaged with Frontline Machinery for the rental a horizontal grinder for biomass production. Through this relationship, Frontline Machinery became aware of Valiant Log Sort’s chipping business and the ever so growing demands for increased chip supply.
Frontline Machinery committed to a demonstration of the newly designed CBI 7544 Flail Debarker and Disc Chipper – something Ouwehand had never seen or ran personally. Combining the CBI Magnum Force Flail 604 and the CBI Magnum Force 754 Disc Chipper, the 7544 Flail Debarker/Disc Chipper combo offered a standalone for debarking and chip production on a single chassis.
Since Valiant Log Sort was operating two other chippers from other manufacturing brands, an on-site demonstration was critical for Ouwehand to consider purchasing the uint.While the company did buy new equipment with various brands, it makes those purchases selectively, and strategically. “Uptime is the key thing for us—the chipper is the heartbeat of our sort yard. The biggest thing in all our operations is keeping our equipment in good shape, and keeping it running,” Ouwehand says. “We can’t afford to be buying new equipment all the time.”
After a long tenure of testing and pushing the limits of the machine on-site, Valiant Log Sort made the decision to purchase the newly designed 7544 – the first unit operating in Canada. In making the purchase decision, Ouwehand says he considers features such as low financing—but what he is truly looking for is solidly built equipment that is going to work, day-in, day-out, and for good parts and service support. “The CBI machine does a good job with the heavy wood, and we can go to larger logs, up to 24 inches [and the] Frontline people are doing everything they can to make the equipment work for us” say Ouwehand.
The new 7544 Flail Debarker and Disc Chipper has ultimately allowed them to process increased volumes compared to their previous equipment and additionally, they can process larger diameter logs, thus outsourcing less thus reducing costs.