Don White has been operating heavy equipment most of his life. Three years ago, when the opportunity to purchase two used Bobcat A220 all-wheel-steer loaders came along, Don and his sons Wes and Jason bought the machines and went into business for themselves, creating White Enterprises.
The Repton, Ala.-based business began in property and small brush clearing and hurricane cleanup. Now, the company is starting to focus on forestry management. As with any new business focus, new tools and equipment are required to complete the tasks. To complete their forestry management work more efficiently, White Enterprises worked with Joe Ecker of Bobcat dealer Beard Equipment, Mobile, Ala., to purchase Bobcat T300 and T320 compact track loaders and a Bobcat forestry cutter attachment and forestry applications kit.
"When we first purchased the T320, we were clearing buffer lanes for fire zones on a federal preserve near Fort Morgan, Alabama," Don White says. "We were finding out that we needed something more in addition to the brush cutter we were using to clear the areas. We started talking with Ecker about the Bobcat forestry cutter attachment, and he sent one to the job site."
Beard Equipment allowed White Enterprises to use the attachment for three weeks. By the end of that time it was obvious to the White family that the forestry cutter attachment was the right piece of equipment to make their work easier.
"Before we got this forestry cutter attachment, we could only cut brush and rake roots with grapples," says Wes White. "After we purchased the Bobcat attachment, we stepped up into contracts with forestry management companies."
The Bobcat forestry cutter attachment has a 60-inch cutting width with 30 double-tipped carbide cutting teeth. It is mounted with the Bob-Tach system. Operators can shred trees with the attachment and quickly bring the uppermost limbs to the ground. Then, the forestry cutter's tube-style drum and carbide teeth cut through the rest of the tree, even working below grade to process mulch in the soil. That mulch acts as a barrier and slows the re-growth of unwanted material.
One feature of the Bobcat forestry cutter attachment is the forestry applications kit that protects the operator and the machine. This attachment is typically used under very rugged conditions, so Bobcat has equipped the cab with a special 3/4-inch laminated polycarbonate front door with an emergency exit feature to protect the operator from flying objects and debris. Without this door installed, the attachment will not operate. The forestry applications kit also includes a fire extinguisher, ISO 3449 Level II Falling Object Protective Structure, top and rear windows of 1/4-inch polycarbonate, and debris guards to protect the muffler, lights and hydraulic components. The debris guards allow for longer operation time and easier cleanup of debris during daily maintenance.
The forestry cutter attachment has proven particularly helpful in helping clear inspection lanes at a timber tract at the Alexandria Plantations in Mineola, Ala. When a forest management company wants to sell timber, buyers are invited to the tract to inspect the timber and determine if a purchase can be made. If the tract is overgrown with briar and brush, making it hard to inspect, the chances of the timber buyer making a purchase decrease.
To make it easier for buyers to inspect the timber, the forest management company hired White Enterprises to create inspection lanes. These lanes are placed at random points in the tract and are 15 feet wide and a quarter of a mile long. Timber inspectors can use the inspection lanes to get a good idea of the quality of the timber throughout the tract.
The land owner provided White Enterprises with GPS coordinates for the location of the inspection lanes. White Enterprises then used their hand-held GPS devices to place the inspection lanes exactly where the owner wanted them.
"I thought we were going to have a problem with the hand-held GPS inside the cab because of all the steel on the T320," says Don White. "It surprised me that it gets a perfect reading."
To begin clearing the inspection lane, the Bobcat T320 with the forestry cutter attachment goes to work cutting the initial line.
"We use the forestry cutter attachment to clear trees 7 inches to 9 inches in diameter," says Wes White. "You couldn't do this work with a rotary cutter because it just couldn't handle this type of work."
A Bobcat T300 with a brush cutter follows the T320 and clears smaller brush. White Enterprises can clear a 15-foot-wide, quarter-mile-long inspection lane in 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how many trees there are and how thick the brush is.
"The forestry cutter attachment allows us to move quickly on these projects," says Wes White.
In addition to the inspection lanes, White Enterprises has also been clearing an area of the timber tract that was burned in a wild fire. The timber tract was planted in 2004, and the fire destroyed 40 acres. Normally, before a timber tract is planted, there is site preparation work involved. In order to get these 40 acres back into timber production quickly and at minimal cost, the forestry management company decided to forgo site preparation and instead hired White Enterprises to clear the area so that new trees can be planted. This will allow the new trees to be as close in age as possible to the existing trees so that the entire tract can be sold at the same time.
In Alabama, tracts of timber aren't the only thing maturing. White Enterprises is a business coming into its own. Any business will grow and mature when the owners realize what equipment they need for a job and have a dealer backing them up. With the Bobcat forestry cutter attachment and forestry applications kit, Don White and his sons are set to continue to cultivate their business.