If you’re interested in the evolution of the logging trade, look no further than Corbett R. Caudill Chipping Inc., a family-owned company based in Hamden, Ohio. Owner Corbett “Corb” Caudill Sr. logged with his father using handsaws and horses to cut and move the timber when he was a boy.
Today the company relies on state-of-the-art machinery to perform those tasks, with a Komatsu Forest XT465L at the heart of the operation.
Caudill Chipping traded in a previous-model Komatsu Forest feller buncher for the new one in 2020, and the company is impressed with the new machine.
“The uptime has been unbelievable,” said Kevin Caudill, the feller buncher operator. He has put about 2,000 hours on the machine in a year. “It runs non-stop. I cut for five or six skidders that load after me, and the dependability of the machine lets me stay ahead of them.”
The Komatsu Forest 465 is much more stable than the other brand the company demoed, he added. Because Caudill Chipping works in hilly Southeastern Ohio, stability is not only a significant benefit but a necessity.
Kevin also appreciates the upgrades Komatsu Forest incorporated into the redesigned machine. “It has a lot more boom power. They beefed it up in places that matter most.”
He also likes the redesigned operator’s cab. “You can’t beat the visibility out of the new cab. Everything is at your fingertips, and the new AC system actually cools it down.”
Besides dependability, stability and comfort, service from Columbus Equipment Company was a major factor in purchasing the 465. “The service Columbus Equipment gives us has been outstanding,” said Corb’s son, Cory, woods foreman for the logger. “Service makes the machine. You can have the best machine, but if it breaks down and no one comes to work on it, it doesn’t do you any good.”
"I call at 7 at night, and everyone from the salesman to the service manager to the mechanics will all answer their phones. That means a lot to us."
Corbett “Corb” Caudill Sr.; Owner, Corbett R. Caudill Chipping Inc.
Caudill Chipping has several purchased chippers and cutting machines from Columbus Equipment Company through the years, and “Columbus Equipment has been really good on service. When we break down, they are right there for us,” he added.
The company cuts about 100 loads a week, totaling about 100 acres a month, Cory said. Caudill Chipping cuts mainly on land it owns or through private sales with landowners who want their land cleared. The company doesn’t do bid sales or work on federal or state land.
The long timbers go to a sawmill, and the company chips the tops for two main customers—the Pixelle paper plant in Chillicothe and Globe Metallurgical. “We use every stick of the tree,” Kevin noted. The company runs three chippers and, in the busy season, has two in-woods crews plus a wood crew.
Overall, the company has 30 employees, including office staff, Cory said. The vast majority are members of the extended family (Cory and Kevin are cousins). Founder Corb still comes to work every day. “Dad runs a loader every day,” Cory said. “He’s 78, and he just likes to work.”
The company is self-contained down to doing its own trucking, with 13 trucks in its fleet. Caudill employees also work on equipment but count on the dealer for warranty work. Bob Stewart, Environmental Division sales rep, “has been super on warranty stuff. He’s my go-to guy,” Cory noted.
“Bob Stewart and all the mechanics at Columbus Equipment have been nothing but outstanding,” said Kevin, who does some maintenance on the feller buncher himself. “Sometimes we don’t have cell service during the day, so I call at 7 at night, and everyone from the salesman to the service manager to the mechanics will all answer their phones. That means a lot to us.”
Caudill Chipping is an active member of the Ohio Forestry Association (OFA). It also has Master Logger Certification and follows procedures for a safe, efficient jobsite. Master loggers use best management practices to reduce soil erosion and improve the property's appearance after the timber is harvested.
Under Corb’s leadership, the company has twice been named Logging Business of the Year by Timber Harvesting magazine. It was also OFA’s 1994 Logger of the Year.
Working in the woods seems to be part of the Caudill family DNA. “I’ve been with the company since I got out of high school in 2005,” Cory said, but he has been working with his dad “since I was a little kid out in the woods whenever I was allowed to. Dad really made this business from scratch.”
At Caudill Chipping, a solid work ethic and the wisdom and courage to adopt new technology and practices have created a business that can support generations to come.