How a 524L Loader with tool-carrier configuration offers a whole new look for log yards

Jim Rogers has seen the timber business from nearly every angle. Cutting, hauling, mulching, and now in his latest endeavor, running a sawmill. “In today’s market, you have to be flexible — that’s the only way to make it,” says Rogers. The other ingredients for success? Family and work ethic. It’s how Rogers Wood Products, based just south of Terre Haute, Indiana, has expanded to include nearly every aspect of the wood business.

ALL IN THE FAMILY
The Rogers family is a tight-knit clan, with Jim heading the operation and his wife, two sons and daughter, and son- and daughter-in-law chipping in with the myriad of tasks that accompany running a business. “Without family, you have nothing,” explains Rogers, which is a sentiment that extends to the company’s crews. “We do have foremen and bosses out there, but we don’t worry about production. We want them to treat each other like family. If you treat each other that way and do your job, production always follows.”

Much like the rain-soaked grounds surrounding the region, Rogers’ philosophy holds water. Since purchasing the sawmill, they’ve increased its production from five loads of lumber per week to 15, and have drastically cut down on employee turnover. “Before, the mill wouldn’t have a consistent supply of logs, so they might only work 15 hours a week. We have more of an end-to-end operation now — in addition to select cuts, we clear land for a local mine, so it’s easier for us to keep the mill fed.”

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CARRYING ITS WEIGHT
Also helping keep the mill fed is Rogers’ latest addition to the team — a John Deere 524L Loader, complete with tool carrier configuration that allows increased visibility to the boom and forks. “A sawmill can’t function without a loader. If your loader’s down, you can’t get logs off the trucks, you can’t get them on the deck for cutting, and you can’t get the lumber loaded. We’ve run other brands and even other models of John Deere loaders, and this 524L is the ticket.”

Perhaps more than most applications, the need for visibility from the cab is crucial in a log yard, especially toward the front tires and forks. “This is the first loader I’ve run where you can actually see what you’re doing when picking up a load of logs. The way they set up the boom on this tool carrier model makes life a lot easier — it takes the guesswork out so you’re not jabbing into the logs anymore.” Fewer damaged logs means crews have more usable material, helping minimize waste and improve efficiency.

The 524L is no slouch when it comes to lifting capacity, either. “We handle a lot of 40-foot trees, and I was worried the machine would be too small, but so far there isn’t a task it can’t do. Last week, in two-and-a-half days, we had 31 loads come in, and the only time it slowed down was when my operator needed a break. On top of that, it’s fast and can cut tight turning radiuses — that goes a long way in a full yard. “If you told me to name three things wrong with that machine and you’d give me a brand-new one for free, I’d still have to make my payments. I’m pretty picky and I like free things, but that loader is a great piece of equipment.”

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ON THE BALL
Should the need arise, Rogers anticipates that the new West Side Tractor Sales dealership in Terre Haute will be just as dependable as his new loader. “Our sales guy is really good. He comes and watches how we work in the log yard here and out at cuts, and he sees where we’re having trouble, where we could do things differently. It’s great to have someone that proactive about helping our business. I think the support will be even better now with the new store being that much closer. “As for the loader, it’s like I said, I can’t pick on the machine, and I usually have something to say about everything. John Deere hit a good one.”