ESCANABA, Mich. (WZMQ) – The Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) is hosting its 77th annual show now through Saturday in Escanaba.
“It’s basically what we call a logger’s holiday,” said GLTPA Executive Director Henry Schienebeck. “It brings all of our members together with all of the industry folks, all of the people that manufacture equipment, that type of thing.”
The Great Lakes Logging & Heavy Equipment Expo draws industry professionals from throughout Michigan and Wisconsin each year. Escanaba has hosted the event numerous times, and Schienebeck says it’s the perfect place for it.
“Escanaba is basically a forestry-minded community,” he said. “You have a large paper mill here, you have a lot of forest, a lot of our members come from this area.”
The expo showcases the latest advances in logging technology, like firewood processors and log splitters.
“We have all the equipment manufacturers out here,” Schienebeck said. “They come as far away as Sweden, Finland, basically global.”
One vendor with a large selection of products on display is Komatsu. Marcus Steigerwaldt, sales director for Komatsu Forest and TimberPro, says while some products are made in Sweden, others represent the Great Lakes region.
“Some of this equipment, like the TimberPro, is made just four hours away from here,” he said. “It’s very local manufacturing and a big part of the community.”
Vendors will host demonstrations and activities throughout the expo. Komatsu is holding a forwarder skills competition all day on Friday, with the final round on Saturday. Twenty participants will go head-to-head in hopes of winning a whitetail hunting trip in southern Ohio.
“It brings in operators as far as Kentucky this year and some other states, so it’s really a big event,” said Steigerwaldt.
Komatsu also has engineering staff on-site to answer questions about their products. Steigerwaldt says the Great Lakes Logging & Heavy Equipment Expo is a great opportunity for vendors to connect with their current customers and reach new ones.
“This is the largest cut-to-length expo in North America,” he said. “This show is one of our best shows because it brings in people from all over the U.S. and even some from Canada. It’s a very important show for us as an organization.”
Schienebeck says the expo also highlights the impact of the industry on the country’s economy.
“We need somebody to purchase the wood that we’re harvesting,” he said. “If we didn’t have the markets, it would actually cost the public money to make sure that our forests were maintained for health.”
According to Schienebeck, logging is an essential part of forest management. He says that is something people outside the industry often have misconceptions about.
“Our forest needs to be managed,” he said. “Like out west, the fires that happen out there, that’s really because of a lack of management. It’s about wildlife, habitat, water quality, recreational opportunities. Our mission as an industry is to make sure that we never run out of trees and that we never have a lack of access to those trees.”
Steigerwaldt says Komatsu is also part of that mission. He says Komatsu provides forestry equipment in places like Brazil and New Zealand, as well as here in North America.
“We really look to explore products from the tree planting phase all the way through the final felling of timber in the woods,” said Steigerwaldt. “We’re part of the whole forestry cycle and we see it as a sustainable initiative for, really, the globe.”
The Great Lakes Logging & Heavy Equipment Expo continues on Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Admission is $20 for adults and free for those under 18.
Click here for more information on the Great Lakes Logging & Heavy Equipment Expo.