At age 79, C.W. Freeman has learned a few things about life. He knows how to successfully run a logging company. Knows the importance of family. And understands that waiting for your ship to come in, never, ever works. Success is almost always preceded by hard work, lots of it.
Freeman is the owner and co-founder of Long Bay Trucking, Bolton, North Carolina. The company runs two logging crews, and also operates a fleet of trucks and trailers to transport logs to sawmills. Long Bay Trucking works primarily in eastern North Carolina.
The company does contract work for a handful of sawmills, mostly clear-cuts of pine and a small amount of hardwood. “Most of the jobs don’t have any hardwood,” he says.
As a contract logger, Freeman works to meet the mill’s specifications. Having his own trucking fleet enables him to take advantage of market fluctuations. When market demand is high for certain types of material, he can truck as much as he can to mills to meet the demand.
Owning his own fleet of 10 trucks and 12 trailers, material produced by his crews is always top priority. “If I have to, I can run all our trucks on one job to meet market demand,” Freeman states. “It’s expensive to start, but it pays off.”
Freeman knows that to be a successful logger, he must work smart. “You have to be smart, and willing to work hard. It’s not easy,” he says. “We bought scales, so we can run the trailers at the legal limit. We know exactly how many pounds are loaded on them. That’s doing it the smart way.”
He’s found that running a pair of five-person crews enables him to move machines and personnel to meet demanding conditions such as working in a water-logged site, as well as continuing working when quotas are down.
“There are ups and downs logging. If there are machine problems, we’ve moved equipment to keep working,” he notes.
The company produces approximately 120 truckloads, each weighing 27 to 28 tons, every week. One of the crews works with a single knuckleboom loader, and the other with a pair of loaders. Both crews are prepared to work in wetlands.
Skidders, including a pair of Cat® 525Cs and a 545D, run on dual wheels to improve traction, and reduce the machine’s footprint to decrease damage when working in wetlands. Inside wheels are 30½ inches wide and outer wheels are 24 inches wide. “The dual wheels run better than 44s or any other single set of wheels,” Freeman says.
Typically, the dual-wheeled skidders run on a path of downed trees to minimize rutting and access areas that other machines can’t. “When there’s eight, ten inches of standing water on the logging road, we’ll get through and we won’t tear the ground up,” Freeman says. “We don’t want to rut the ground too much.”
Long Bay Trucking has had great success since moving into wetland logging five years ago. The week after Hurricane Matthew swept through North Carolina, for instance, Long Bay Trucking was able to produce 220 truckloads of wood, 100 loads more than a typical week. “The mills were taking the wood,” Freeman recalls. “And we were able to get into the brush.”
No one can make it alone, of course. Cat dealer, Gregory Poole, provides outstanding support to help keep machine uptime high. “They have a lot of good people who have helped us over the years,” Freeman says. “If it’s an emergency, they’ll come right out and correct the problem.”
Machine purchases are often financed through Cat Financial. “Thank the Lord for Cat Financial. They came on board, and have helped us out a lot. They have been a life saver for us.”
Freeman began using Cat Financial when he had difficulty borrowing money from a bank. This exemplifies Freeman’s fighting spirit—when traditional financing wasn’t available, he found another way to obtain the money that he needed. “We’ve been punching this as hard as we can to keep going. That’s the whole thing in a nutshell, you have to keep going. You’ve got to work, that’s all there is to it.”
North Carolina’s Big Woods
Long Bay Trucking’s work area includes North Carolina’s Green Swamp. Originally covering 140 square miles, some of the Green Swamp has been taken over by farms, but much of the area is reserved for logging.
“It’s 25 miles long and 25 miles wide. It’s a lot of plantation wood,” says C.W. Freeman, owner and co-founder of the Bolton, North Carolina, logging company. “My uncle, way back yonder, helped clean up that swamp. They cleaned up all the debris wood that was growing. It was all twisted, and wouldn’t grow straight. They fertilized it, and planted all the plantations.”
Commercial logging in the Green Swamp, which is an important habitat along the Atlantic Flyway for migrating birds, dates back to about 1904.
True Family Business
C.W. Freeman founded Long Bay along with his son, Harry, in 1979. “We were working construction, and decided that we would do a little logging,” Freeman recalls.
Much of the Freeman family has followed C.W. and Harry’s lead.
C.W.’s wife, Haleen, serves as president and secretary. Sons Freddy and Darren have both been part of the crew for decades. Two daughters, Glenda and Jennifer, have full-time careers outside of logging, but contribute by doing spreadsheets and other computer services. Grandsons Ty and Trey also work for Long Bay Trucking. With a couple of exceptions, all company employees are family.
Long Bay Trucking’s Cat Fleet: