A late October snowfall, one of the first of the 2011 winter logging season, has left a slippery blanket of white over most of the logging road Joanne Kineshanko is tackling in her massive Ford F-350 pickup truck. Riding shotgun with Joanne in the cab is her daughter-in-law, Dawne Kineshanko.
By Trina Dillon
The pair are heading to a logging block just off B.C. Highway 6 and about an hour east of the Interior town of Vernon. On the agenda for the morning is the Kineshanko Logging monthly “tailgate safety meeting” and monthly logging truck safety inspections as required by the B.C. Forest Safety Council.
|Joanne Kineshanko on a logging block near Lumby, B.C., on a cold October day.|
For Joanne, this regular ritual on the logging block wasn’t in her life plan. The perky mother of four and grandmother of nine (“soon to be 10,” Joanne excitedly adds) has always been involved in the business, but her husband, well-respected and well-known logger Terry Kineshanko, had taken care of the hands-on bush work, while Joanne handled some of the office responsibilities from their home office in Lumby, B.C. But that all changed in May 2006 when Terry succumbed to a massive coronary. “Before losing Terry, I was doing books, running the office and taking care of payroll,” explains Joanne, who today is the company president and general manager. “When we lost Terry, I worked together with my sons, Jeff and Jon as we had to get up to speed very quickly on the layout of the blocks and the logistics of the business, like how much wood we could fall and skid in an hour and the trucking side of the business.”
Joanne says in the first couple of years following Terry’s death, she spent more time in the bush than she does now. “I tried to be the cheerleader and rally the troops,” she explains. “But they don’t really need me out there as our crew does such a good job. And I have to say, along with our amazing, hard-working crew, Jeff is the main link that keeps the bush operations functioning efficiently. He makes the day-to-day decisions. However, I still need to be involved as some of the final decisions for the company fall on my shoulders.”
Strong family support has also helped Joanne get through what she describes as the biggest challenge of her life. “I couldn’t have done this without the support of my kids and my family,” she says.
Jeff and Jon both grew up in the business and today they play key roles in the operational side of Kineshanko Logging. “My dad taught me everything I know about the logging business,” says Jeff, who is the company’s logging supervisor. His wife, Dawne, is the office manager and safety co-ordinator, while Jon is the trucking supervisor.
“We all have our own roles, but everyone jumps in and does whatever needs to be done,” notes Joanne. “We support each other and it works well for us.”
Today, Kineshanko Logging has a production crew of seven, including Jeff and Jon. “We also have three truck drivers on staff who run our three brand new 2012 Kenworth logging trucks and a 2007 Kenworth lowbed used for transporting equipment,” Jon says, adding that at any given time they can also have between three and six contract truckers on the job, depending on volumes and turnaround times.
In terms of volume, the Kineshankos harvest and deliver between 100,000 and 120,000 cubic metres of wood annually to Tolko Industries, most of which goes to the company’s White Valley veneer mill, Lavington planer mill and Armstrong sawmill. Some wood will also go to pulp production.
|One of Kineshanko Logging’s Caterpillar 320s processes logs using a Denharco delimber.|
“They are a good bunch,” notes Tom Jones, one of Tolko’s woodlands supervisors who has worked with the Kineshankos for three years. “They are strictly a roadside logger but they are very flexible and adaptable. They are all about getting the job done, but safety and quality are always at the top of the list.”
Wayne Lintott, general manager of the Interior Logging Association (ILA) agrees. “They are just a great logging company and Joanne is old school. She treats the entire crew like family and it shows in the quality of their work and in their safety record,” says Lintott who heads the ILA, an organization that Terry was involved with for almost 30 years. In continuing on with the ILA, Jeff became a director of the organization in 2006.
Today, the Kineshankos are a stump-to-dump contractor, but it wasn’t always that way. Terry, who was born in Saskatchewan but grew up in Lumby, started out in the 1960s hooking chokers as a summer job while still in high school. He went from there to to falling and bucking and, after finishing school, he took a job with a local contractor, Chaput Logging, where he worked for seven years. He then bought his first skidder, a used John Deere 540-A, and went to work for the Riverside Forest Products’ mill in Lumby, which is now owned by Tolko. A few years later, he started working for Tolko’s Lavington mill and built the business up from there. In 2005, he celebrated 30 years as a Tolko contractor. For a few years in the early 2000s, Terry worked with Tolko and another local logging contractor, R.J. Schunter, on a unique project aimed at maximizing productivity. Called a “superside,” Terry was doing falling and skidding and R.J. Schunter, handled the processing, loading and trucking. In 2006, when the “superside” ended, both the Kineshankos and R.J. Schunter each went back to handling the entire stump-to-dump process for Tolko on their respective blocks.
For equipment, the Kineshankos run primarily Caterpillar gear, and mainly newer models. “We have found that turning our equipment over on a regular basis keeps our productivity up,” Joanne says. “Some other loggers run into equipment failure issues but we don’t have that. We get good value for our used equipment and we know in the long term that we won’t have breakdown problems.”
For newer iron, Kineshanko Logging has a 2007 Caterpillar 552 feller buncher; a 2010 Caterpillar 545C grapple skidder; a 2007 Caterpillar 320CL FM processor with a Denharco DM4400 monoboom delimbing head; a 2007 Caterpillar 320C FM log loader; and a 2006 Cat 320C log loader with a powerclam grapple. They also keep several older pieces of Cat gear on hand, including feller bunchers, skidders and a delimber.
This year, the Kineshankos invested in the new logging trucks Jon referred to, replacing three 2007 Kenworth models with the three 2012 models, also from Kenworth. They kept one of the 2007 trucks to use with the lowbed.
“We try to stagger our equipment purchases so that we are not having to face the cost of replacing too much at one time,” Joanne says. “Our philosophy is that if the machines aren’t working due to mechanical downtime, they are not giving us a return on our investment.”
Early on in his career Terry started using Caterpillar equipment as he noticed at used equipment auctions, the CAT gear generally fetched a high price, which meant he could afford to sell his equipment while it was still valuable and upgrade. The Kineshankos have continued on with this strategy, and today, Joanne says for major equipment, they still only use Caterpillar and Kenworth.
As for production, it is mainly long logs, but Jeff says they can have up to 10 sorts in the bush, which can be challenging. “We can be sorting for peelers, pulp, sawlogs, size, mill, and species,” he explains. “That can be a huge job.”
There was never any question about the company continuing on following Terry’s death. “We needed to carry on with what Terry started,” Joanne says. “He built this company from scratch and he loved what he was doing out in the bush.”
Joanne adds that Terry was also very supportive of what she was doing in her life, including 12 years she spent in municipal government – 1.5 years on Lumby Council and 10.5 years as mayor of the town. She currently serves on the board of the Whitevalley Community Resource Centre, a position she has held for over 20 years, and she has been involved with a number of other boards and organizations, including the Canadian Women in Timber and several provincial forestry committees.
Recently, she applied her experience to the Vernon Jubilee Hospital foundation, which just concluded a $7 million fundraising program for equipment in a new tower of the hospital. Kineshanko Logging adopted the hospital’s new stress test unit in Terry’s memory. Ironically, he was on a wait list for a stress test when he died.
When asked what Terry would think of what she has done with the company, Joanne sits back for a minute and reflects on the question. “He would have been very, very proud of me and our sons for how we have jumped in to continue on with the business,” she says, as a tear runs down her cheek. “He’s with me every day, even more so when I go to the bush. He’s my strength and inspiration and I think he would have said that of me and our kids as well. In everything I have done, he was always my greatest supporter, and in going forward, I’m extremely blessed to have this big, beautiful family we created together.”