Pirner Logging & Landclearing of Hubbardston was named the 2021 recipient of the Douglas B. Cook Wood Producer of the Year Award.
The Cook Award is presented to a timber harvester, sawmill operator, or forest products professional who exemplifies the late Doug Cook’s spirit of innovation and leadership in the industry. The award presentation was part of MFA’s online Annual Meeting on October 23rd.
In presenting the award, MFA Treasurer Jamie Dammann said, “I’ve been on many jobs where the Pirners have been working over the years and they’ve all been done carefully and professionally. They are truly deserving of this award due to the quality of their work.”
Every year Pirner Logging works on a variety of projects, from clearing individual lots to allow people to build, to thinning woodlands for landowners, to working on habitat restoration projects for Mass Wildlife or the Ware River Watershed. The company harvests timber and pulpwood and sells firewood and wood chips for different markets.
Chris Pirner began working in the woods with his brother and a friend after graduating from the Stockbridge School at UMass, starting with just a chainsaw and cable skidder. Today the 6 person business, which includes his wife Jenny and their sons, Jacob and Nathan, is mostly mechanized allowing for higher productivity and creating a safer work environment.
Today the business includes 2 grapple skidders, a tracked hot saw, a whole tree chipper, log trucks, chip trailers and other machinery to allow them to work on different projects efficiently.
“Equipment is wicked expensive but it’s much more user friendly now than it was when I began,” said Chris. “The stuff we run now allows us to work safer and be more productive.”
“I’ve enjoyed working in the woods my whole life and I enjoy the mix of different projects we work on,” said Chris Pirner. “It’s a challenging business and you are always having to adjust what you’re doing to deal with changes. Right now the costs for fuel, insurance and tires have gotten crazy; it’s hard getting parts or equipment, and the cost of equipment is incredible.”
“The most important thing in our business isn’t machinery but people. Good employees are really important to the success and survival of any business and you’ve got to take care of them. We’re lucky that the group of guys we have are really good at what they do and they are very good at working on problems before they become major issues. They are not afraid of doing maintenance and taking care of the equipment.”
Pirner said that he tries to deal with problems before they happen, rather than having to fix them afterward. He said that is why he has been a strong supporter of the Forest Alliance.
“It is hard enough trying to keep up with changes in the business and getting stuff done right in the woods, without spending even more time trying to deal with proposed changes to regulations too. We need to be part of the process from the beginning so MFA can educate legislators and others on our behalf instead of trying to fix bad ideas after they are passed.”