StumpGeek - Software for Loggers & Truckers.
“There will always be a job for the man that is willing to work really hard for not a lot of money.”
This is something I heard my dad say. It was 35 years ago when I first started paying attention to what was going on in the Timber Industry, I was a young man with a chain saw and a dream. I remember hearing from a lot of loggers how they could not make money and it was someone else’s fault. I never heard this type of talk from my father, he went to work, made a living, that fed his family, and this made him happy. Did he have hardships, of course, like when his stupid 16-year-old son cut a good portion of his foot off with the chain saw, an expensive mistake for a family with no health insurance. I do not remember him complaining then or ever. He didn’t make excuses as to why he wasn’t making a big profit. Like a lot of loggers my dad was not a good businessman, he didn’t really like doing paperwork and analyzing averages was something he simply didn’t do. His philosophy was if you make money on every stick, you just need to cut enough sticks to pay the bills. He never thought about how much it cost him to cut the stick, or if he lost money on 2 sticks broke even on 6 sticks and made a lot of money on 2 sticks, over all those 10 sticks may be more valuable in the end.
As I thought about writing this Product Showcase and the focus of this issue of the magazine Pulp and Paper in WI and MI, I thought I would focus on the problem that StumpGeek can help to solve instead of the product itself. I thought of how the industry has evolved in the 35 years since I was listening to those loggers talk. The industry has changed a great deal, the mills have been innovating to continue to post profits for their shareholders. Equipment manufactures continue to design better equipment, easier on the operator so that they can produce more efficiently and faster. This equipment is more expensive and requires more interaction with their service department thereby providing consistent cash flow to the manufacturer. Our forests here in the Lake States are healthier than ever through proper management on every level, proving that the Timber Industry cares more than the public is aware.
I wonder, has the logger changed, has he evolved with the world around him? The type of equipment we run has evolved, we have higher payments, we can produce more timber in a shorter period of time, so we have become more sophisticated in our ability to produce timber. Yet whenever I talk to loggers, I still hear the same thing I heard 35 years ago, I don’t make any money, I work really hard, its someone else’s fault, I hate doing paperwork.
During my 33 years logging, my operation has changed a great deal as well. I went from a small father and two son’s operation when my dad was still in charge to evolving into a larger operation where I had my own set of equipment, employees, and a couple of subcontract crews. I had lots of timber and money going through my hands, exposing myself to a great deal of risk but by no means getting rich. I began to understand more of what other loggers were referring to. I made a living but was not making a profit above my salary. After chasing the big numbers for a few years, I began to think back about my dad and where I saw him the happiest. I decided I did not enjoy my day anymore, so I decided to downsize, and I went back to a smaller operation.
Over those years and through all the changes I paid attention to the numbers, how much my business made both gross and net, how much time I spent working both on the job and off. My average money per unit verse the amount of wood I could produce. Many people will say you make more money when you have a small operation, this simply is not true. There are a lot less headaches when your small, but I made more money when I had a large business.
One thing was constant no matter what my operation looked like, I needed a better way to manage it, I needed to stay on top of how much stumpage I owed. What was my average per cord or ton, both gross and net roadside? How much timber I was producing in each period, and so many more things that goes into managing the products in a timber business. I also had a difficult time managing my product as a whole. The mills have different methods of scale and there is always a discrepancy from one mill to the other in the way they buy the product. One mill uses weight scale and I get paid by the ton, the next pays by the board foot, and yet another one is stick scaling by the cord. With so many mills having a different scale system I needed a way to bring this information together in one UOM (unit of measurement) so I could total it.
For many years I tried to manage my product in spreadsheet programs, building in conversion rates so that I could see my product come together in one form and understand my averages and volumes. I spent countless hours on weekends trying to get a simple way to get this information together. I wanted to be more then a good logger I wanted to be a good businessman.
This is what led to the development of the StumpGeek software. In StumpGeek you can enter a truck loads volume in ton, cord, or MBF. On that same entry you can enter in your amount you are getting paid from the timber to later create an invoice and manage the money coming into your business. On this same entry field you can also enter in the amount paid out to subcontractors or property owners, so that you can later easily create professional payment statements as well as print a check to send people you owe money to. The type of UOM that you use to get paid or you pay out can be different from the mills, so if you want to pay your property owner by the cord even though you got paid by the ton you can do so. This is accomplished through an editable built in conversion table.
Being able to create professional statements and invoices and pay our subcontractors and property owners quickly and easily is important. Saving time is one of the benefits of the StumpGeek software as is the ability to track our product. StumpGeek allows you to enter in the three different forms of measurement and you can bring the information together in one form, so even though you have entered in cord, ton, or MBF, you can see how many cords total you cut on a job or tons if you prefer. Pulling this information together you can start seeing your averages per week, per month, or annually. As you look deeper into the software you can also track your money, because even though we know production is important, ultimately if you aren’t making money on the wood, no matter how much production you have, your business is going to fail.
StumpGeek is a software program that runs on your windows computer, you are welcome to download a 30-day free trial from our website www.stumpgeek.com. You can also call 844-4stumpy (844-478-8679), Jonelle is happy to answer any questions you have, and if she is unable to answer she will get you in touch with my partner Greg or myself.