Branching out: Log loader operator starts up new business
By Andrew Snook
Luc Langevin has been immersed in heavy equipment his entire life. Long before jumping into the forestry and construction sectors as a heavy equipment operator, he was up close and personal with some of the equipment in the forestry sector.
“My father was a truck driver for 48 years,” Langevin says during an interview in the Ottawa Valley, a couple hours away from his base of operations in the Maniwaki, Que. area.
His father hauling logs for nearly half a century has certainly had an influence on Langevin’s choice of careers. At 17 years of age, Langevin began working in the construction sector as a dozer operator. He worked in the industry for five years operating dozers and wheeled excavators before deciding to join his father in the forestry sector working as a feller buncher operator. Langevin worked in the bush for two years before switching to operating a log loader for another company. Shortly after the switch, an opportunity came knocking in 2016.
“My dad and the CSEG co-op [Coalition of forest entrepreneurs of the laurentians and outaouais] in Maniwaki was looking to buy a log loader but they needed someone to run it,” Langevin says, adding that the co-op ended up financing the purchase of the equipment to help get his company, Chargement LL, up and running. “Once the machine is paid off, it’s mine.”
CSEG helped Langevin purchase a Liebherr LH 30 mobile material handler equipped with a Rotobec grapple.
“The co-op ordered it, and I knew right away this was the right machine,” he says, adding that other manufacturers couldn’t offer him the options he wanted; such as the hydraulic thumb.
Langvein has operated the Liebherr LH 30 for three years now. The only significant issue that came up over that time was a problem with the diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), but he says Liebherr worked with him to rectify the problem.
“Liebherr came down and changed all the wiring and changed all the parts,” Langevin says, adding that after the issue was remedied Liebherr extended his warranty on the DEF-related parts. “Now it works fine.”
Langevin loads a variety of softwood and hardwood that is harvested in the Réserve faunique La Vérendrye area, located between Maniwaki and Val-d’Or, Que. The spruce logs and much of the other softwood species go to Resolute Forest Products’ sawmill in Maniwaki; the maple, poplar and other hardwood species go to Louisiana-Pacific (L.P.) in Bois Franc; and the white pine sometimes goes to Low, Que. in the Outaouais Region.
Langevin’s loader typically operates 24 hours a day, five days a week, with the help of a second operator.
“Sometimes in the winter we’ll go through the weekend,” he says. “The best harvesting time is in the winter when the roads are nice.”
He typically loads all year round with the exception of spring breakup, when he performs as much planned maintenance as possible.
“We try to push it as much as we can, but usually stop around April 10,” he says.
One of Langevin’s favourite things to do while loading logs is to challenge himself to see how quickly he can load a truck.
“You always want to load your truck faster, get as many loads as you can in 12 hours,” he says, adding that loading trucks comes with its challenges, like having to sort through a variety of species while trying to keep efficient loading times. “It’s not only putting logs in the trailer. Sometimes we’ve got five different woods, sometimes one wood.”
As far as future goals go, Langevin does see potential for a small expansion in his business.
“Maybe I’ll get another machine if things go well in the future,” he says. “I don’t want to be huge. I just want to stay like this.”
Langvein says the idea of becoming a manager that spends their time overseeing a fleet of machines and a bunch of employees isn’t something that really appeals to him.
“I always want to work, I don’t want to be a boss,” he says. “Maybe one day I’ll get my son into it.”
Chargement LL is very much a family affair. In addition to potentially bring his son, Andrew, into the family business one day – who is only eight month old at the moment; Langevin’s girlfriend, Jessika Charlebois Morin, does all the administration work; and he regularly exposes his nine-year-old daughter, Maélie, to the forestry sector.
“Sometimes when I’m in the bush I bring my daughter with me,” he says. “My daughter loves to come with me in the bush ’cause she can see some animals and she can sit with me in the machine. Every time she comes back home she draws me something about me and the machine.”