Wagner Wood is an amazing company run by brothers Hank and Buzz Wagner. They are based at a large facility in Amherst, MA that once was home to a dairy farm run by their grandfather, Howard Wagner. The brothers still farm 100 acres of cropland and 60 acres of hay land, some of which they rent. They also raise 55 head of beef cattle. Then, of course, there’s the wood business, Wagner Wood, a logging and mulch operation that serves Massachusetts and New England.
“I started out in 1990 with a chain saw,” Hank Wagner said. Today, between the 2 brothers and 26 employees, they keep the diverse operation thriving. Most of the communications between the brothers and the employees is by cell phone; however, the employees are largely self-directed after a morning briefing. With all of the equipment at their disposal, there are enough feller-bunchers, chippers, grinders, skidders, and trailer trucks to run three teams of timber harvesting at three separate locations, simultaneously.
Wagner Wood specializes in tree removal services, stump removal and residential and commercial land clearing for new construction. For timber harvesting, the Wagners have feller-bunchers to cut trees and to stack logs. (Hank Wagner still has the first feller- buncher he ever owned, a Timber T 425-C Hydro Buncher that he bought new.) During harvesting, a skidder brings the bunched logs to a processor that cuts the logs to length, and chips the limbs and treetops. The crew trucks the chips with a fleet of tractor-trailer units to Cooley-Dickenson Hospital in Northampton, MA to supply wood chip burning furnaces. Wagners have a contract with the hospital and they truck wood chips from harvesting operations to an electrical generating plant in Fitchburg, MA. When necessary, they bring surplus chips and logs back to the farm for processing into lumber, firewood or mulch. For digging out and loading stumps, the Wagners have a Cat 230 FM excavator equipped with a thumb attachment.
At the Wagner farm, logs and slabs from their own operation, as well as bundled slabs from other sawmills, are chipped with a Peterson 571 OC chipper-grinder that is equipped to magnetically separate the steel strapping holding the bundles of slabs.
When the mulch is prepared, landscapers come in with all sizes of trucks from pick-ups to tractor-trailer units to buy wood mulch in red, black and brown colors. Powdered dyes, applied to stockpiles, are mixed with front-end loaders. Moisture from the mulch dissolves the powdered dye. They also have several natural varieties of material including a Natural Forest Blend, a Hemlock Blend, an Enhanced Forest Blend and a Cedar Blend. Many of these specialty materials are re-ground before being sold as a way to produce a uniform size and color. They also offer a composted material made of leaves, horse and cow manure, grass clippings and stump grindings that is screened for uniformity as well.
For billing purposes, Wagner Wood relies upon front-end loaders with built-in scales to measure the amount of mulch loaded onto customers’ vehicles. A John Deere 744J high-dump loader is outfitted with a bucket hinged near the cutting edge to facilitate loading high-sided trailers.
A huge Quonset hut building, about half the size of a football field, houses a complete mechanic’s machine shop with all the acetylene torches, electric welders, and power tools needed to equip three full time mechanics to repair their equipment. The brothers often pitch in to help. For bodywork and painting, they have another business, Amherst Towing and Recovery. That features a body shop to keep customers’ vehicles and their own equipment new looking. The brothers are not office executives, but work alongside their employees, doing whatever needs to be done.
“We buy equipment from dealers who have a good supply of parts and give good service. That’s important to keep the operation going. We also have good help. Good employees can make you; bad employees can break you,” Hank Wagner said. For more information, visit their website at www.wagnerwoodco.com or give them a call at 413 253-5194.