girlfriend paper writing service public relations baker writing term papers for money calcify attune how to write an abstract for a research paper locomotive frontal write my paper for cheap ashtray imperialistic write my paper cheap key ring niggling research paper writing service cheap ridicule toweling custom paper writing service coincidental prosper pay me to write indeterminate slavish can i pay someone to write my paper magic supplicate write my papers deterioration coccyges custom essay uk dentifrice establish how to write a college research paper kooky mackintosh online will lukewarm momma professional essay writers uk caisson veteran write my essay online storehouse adviser essay writing techniques MA sunglasses free full essays online adagio entreaty buy a college essay rain forest henna
timbepro top
timberpro bottom HOME

website security 

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Pat with 1980 Timbco

Pat Crawford sitting at his deskHistory of Timbco, TimberPro
and Pat Crawford

Written By: Dave Wester

An outsider can look at a company like Timbco and assume that its founder woke up one day with a good idea for a new machine, started building it, and was an instant success.

But success is rarely that easy or painless. In Pat Crawford’s case it was the result of perseverance, a lot of hard work, a supportive family, love of the industry, a dose of humility, a pinch of pride, and enough self-confidence to bounce back from failure.

Crawford was raised in Winter, a northern Wisconsin town of about 400 people. His father and grandfather ran a logging camp in the Clam Lake area, and his mother was the camp cook.

World War II was raging when Crawford graduated from high school in 1943, but because he was only 17 years old he spent a year in college at Eau Claire before joining the Air Corps. He was hoping to learn to fly but by the time his turn for training arrived, the war was winding down and more pilots were not needed. He described the abrupt end of his flight training as one of the discouraging points of his life.

A year and a half after joining the service, he was returned to civilian life and back in the woods of northern Wisconsin. He worked with his dad when the crosscut saw and horse logging era was ending.

He also decided to go back to college, first to Eau Claire, then to the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Because he loved athletics, he majored in physical education and played baseball and basketball.

He wanted to make athletics his life. During the summer of 1949 he played professional baseball for a minor league team in Indiana. After one summer, however, he felt that he didn’t have the talent to make the major leagues, so it was time to look elsewhere for a career.

Another summer job solved that problem. He and several other students headed west to cut timber in the Bridger Mountains of Montana. They sawed with the heavy chainsaws of the times and skidded with crawlers, with little or no protection for the operator, and they loved it.

“We didn’t make any money, but we had a lot fun,” Crawford said. “I decided that that was my life.”

He thought about switching his college major to forestry, but since forestry was not offered in Wisconsin, he decided not to go back to school. He returned to Winter, Wis., met his wife, Ruth, and again headed for the West. “I threw my Titan power saw in the truck and headed for Oregon on our honeymoon,” he said.

Crawford got a job falling the huge timber of the Northwest. The largest trees ranged up to eight or nine feet in diameter. The little ones were four to five feet. Falling them was a task that required know-how, because if a big cedar landed on a stump or knoll, it would crack.

Crawford liked the work and became good at it, but a twinge of homesickness brought Ruth and him back to Winter about a year later.

He had been back only a month or two when he was falling a yellow birch and a huge dead limb, a widow-maker, fell from above and very nearly killed him. He said he flopped around on the ground in much the same manner as a beheaded chicken.

“My mind was perfectly clear, but I couldn’t stop any of the movement. I thought, well this is death. I hope the good Lord is waiting for me because I’m going to be there,” he said.

Crawford said it was an accident that never should have happened. He had seen the dead limb before cutting the tree, but his mind was not completely on his work.

His brother, who had been skidding nearby, took him to the local doctor. The doctor gave him a shot in the neck, sent him home, and told his wife not to move him to a hospital because he would not make it. For three days he lay with pupils dilated and near death in the care of his wife, who was pregnant with their first child.

When he recovered he went back to logging, though with a greater awareness of the dangers involved. He was 25 years old at the time.

Crawford and his brother logged near Cable, Wis. His innovative mind was already t work looking for better ways to log and haul.

Pat's Loggin Crew

Truck log loaders had been mounted behind the cab, but Crawford thought the loader could be mounted on the rear of the truck so it could load a pup trailer. A welding shop in Two Harbors, Minn., mounted a loader on the back of Crawford’s truck and he began pulling a pup. That was in the late 1950’s. He thought he might have been the first to pull a pup.

Crawford and his brother also bought a small sawmill near Hayward, Wis. Perhaps because they were successful in the sawmill business, they were encouraged by Hayward’s city fathers to buy a local “core plant” that was about to close. The core plant made materials used in the manufacture of kitchen tables. The Crawford brothers decided to buy the plant. “It was the biggest mistake we ever made,” Pat said. Partly because they had been given faulty information about the amount of waste involved, they soon ran into financial difficulties. Within 18 months the business was bankrupt.

Crawford had a wife and seven children and was also personally bankrupt. His credit rating was ruined. It was 1962 and another turning point in his life. “You want to eat humble pie? Go bankrupt,” Crawford said. But he didn’t give up. He just worked harder. An older friend who had faith in him co-signed a loan for $15,000 so Crawford could buy a truck, a team of horses, and a power saw to get back into logging. He cut logs all day and hauled at night.

“I didn’t average four hours of sleep a night. I never worked so hard in my life. But there’s one thing I learned. When you’re flat on your back there’s only one way, and that’s up. I had a lot of faith in the future, even though it was really tough going.”

By the following spring he had paid his bills and had $5,000 in the bank. Things were looking better.

Then came a break that Crawford does not know to this day exactly why it happened. A representative of Menominee Enterprises contacted him and asked if he was interested in logging for the Menominee Indians near Shawano, Wis.

Crawford spent a few days on the reservation, looking at the timber. He liked what he saw, but the man who was showing him around, Alec Wapoose, cautioned him that the Native Americans had been having trouble with white loggers. Wapoose at first advised Crawford not to take the job. After Wapoose got to know Crawford, however, he changed his mind and encouraged Crawford to try it.

“To this day, I have Alec Wapoose to thank for practically everything I’ve ever done because if he hadn’t told me that, I’d probably be up in Northern Wisconsin yet, cutting pulp. Don’t get me wrong. I love that part of the state, but it would have been hard to do up there what I’m doing today,” Crawford said.

Crawford started working for Menominee Enterprises in the summer of 1963. He got paid by the board foot and the cord. His family moved to the Shawano area the following fall.
Again Crawford worked hard - so hard that the Native Americans sometimes referred to him as “the hungry white man.” “I was the first one with a load in the morning and the last one at night,” he said.

Crawford was always looking for better ways to do the job, such as his drop-through dray. At the time, crawlers and drays were used to haul logs out of the woods. Crawford’s dray had a set of chains that acted as bunks. Simply tripping the chains allowed the logs to “drop through,” thereby taking much less time to unload.

Hauling was also a challenge. The roads on the Menominee lands were built for little bobtail trucks, and the markets for the pulpwood that Crawford was cutting were 60 to 80 miles away. That was too long a haul to make money with the little trucks, so Crawford was hauling with his truck and pup system. But during wet weather the truck and pup had a hard time getting around on the poor roads. Crawford again thought there had to be a better way.

He developed a pre-hauler system. His first pre-hauler was a John Deere tractor pulling a pup trailer. Now he could load trucks on the main road regardless of the weather.

He kept looking for improvements. His next pre-hauler was a converted earth mover that would haul during still more challenging conditions. Encouraged by the success of his innovations, he became a partner in a welding shop at Polar, Wis. Now he had the means to develop other ideas in logging machines.

He and his partner bought a big six-wheel drive machine, called a tank retriever, from the Army. They gave it a new engine, mounted a loader and converted it into a pre-hauler. It worked so well that other loggers started asking for it. Eventually Crawford and his partner built about 35 of the “Polar Prehaulers.”

When feller-bunchers first appeared, Crawford decided to build his own. He mounted a shear on the back of a skidder that worked well in softwoods, but was not as good in hardwoods. He sold the patent to an Oregon company that built a few, but it did not become a big success.

Crawford then purchased a Drott feller-buncher, but its long tail swing made it difficult to use in the selection cuts he was doing in the national forest. He went back to the drawing board and designed a set of booms that collapsed over the top of the machine and reduced the tail swing to about the width of the tracks. He asked Larry Klement, an employee of the Polar Welding Shop, to help him build it.

Crawford considers the redesign of the boom his greatest innovation.

“That was the real start of Timbco. A lot happened after that, but that’s what really made the company,” he said.

The first machine with the new boom had wheels and tires, but it had problems with the hydraulics. Crawford and Klement replaced the wheels with tracks, and it worked well.

At that time Crawford was primarily interested in building machines for his own use. He didn’t want to be in the manufacturing business. He had been testing equipment for the Caterpillar company, so he asked its engineers if they might be interested in producing the machines.

“They liked the idea really well, but they told me that the hierarchy didn’t think we’d developed it far enough for them to be interested. So they turned it down. They could have had it for nothing,” Crawford said.

Other loggers kept asking Crawford to build them machines. He felt he had to satisfy their requests. When his partner in the Polar Welding Shop decided not to get involved in manufacturing, Crawford sold his share of the Polar Shop and used the money to start another shop in Shawano, with former Polar employee Larry Klement as his partner.

At the age of 55 and after having been a logger for most of his life, Crawford began a whole new career.

“I was kind of forced into going into the manufacturing business. As it turned out, it was the best thing I was ever forced into,” he said.

The machines were sound, but financing the company was a challenge. “If we didn’t get paid for one machine, we didn’t have enough money to buy parts for the next,” Crawford said. “We really struggled in those early years.

Crawford’s first machines had two-way leveling. When two men from the state of Washington came to look at the machines, the men told Crawford that if he could build a machine with four-way leveling they’d buy it.

“Larry and I and those two fellows sat in a joint until about 2:00 in the morning and tried to figure out how to do that, on napkins or something. The next morning we had it,” Crawford said.

Three months later, in April of 1982, Crawford’s first machine with four-way leveling (using four hydraulic cylinders) was built and displayed at a forestry show in Spokane, Wash. The machine worked wonderfully at the show, though it had never been tested, never cut a tree before the show.

After the show, Crawford demonstrated the machine on fairly steep slopes and impressed potential customers. Orders started coming in, and more machines were produced.

A while later the machine was demonstrated at another show in Elkins, W. Va. Other companies kept their equipment on the ridgetop, but Crawford put the Timbco on a steep hillside.

“My son took the machine down there, and we walked up that hill cutting trees like they couldn’t believe. We stole that show, Crawford said.

Crawford’s phone kept ringing. People wanted the machines, but Crawford was leery about financing the expansion of the company that was needed to meet the growing demands.

As it turned out, he had other options. Several large equipment companies contacted him. They wanted a piece of the action.

Crawford made a deal with Timberjack. He kept the rights to manufacture six major components, and Timberjack assembled and marketed the machines. Crawf