When his alarm goes off at 4 a.m., Charles Hill is ready to take on the day.
“It’s always a different tree,” he said. “Let’s see what the challenge is today.”
Charles runs Hill Logging Inc., a company based in Jeffersonville, Georgia, started by his father Quinton in 1946. For the Hill family, logging is a way of life.
“We grew up in the woods. Logging got in the blood, and we stayed in it,” he explained. “I only worked at one outside job for about 90 days of my entire life.”
He remembers delimbing with an axe as young as six-years-old. Charles then went on to drive trucks at age 16 during school breaks. After going to Middle Georgia College and Georgia Southern University to study the management side of logging, Charles started working full-time for the family business in 1971. More than 50 years later, the tradition continues.
“I have a brother, a son, a nephew and grandsons who like to come out here every chance they get,” Charles said. “It really does get in your blood.”
The business is a partnership between Charles, his son Jeremy, Charles’ brother Larry and nephew James. Jeremy remembers growing up in the woods just like his father.
“I just like being outside,” Jeremy said. “That’s all I’ve ever done. It’s a joy when you get to wake up and know you get to go outside all day long. I know I could never have an office job.”
The closest thing to an office is the cab of a processor. Jeremy is regularly running one alongside a second crew. But logging is more than taking down trees. Hill Logging Inc believes in leaving a clean forest behind – taking care not to skin trees or damage roads.
“We run that chipper behind the processor to clean up whatever we can’t get on a log truck,” he explained. “It makes the logging jobs look a lot better, and it’s the reason we get a lot of jobs.”
For Hill Logging, a clean job site is non-negotiable. So is the effort to get almost 100% utilization. And the business relies on Waratah to get the most out of every piece of wood. About 20 years ago, the Hills became early adopters for Waratah processors in the Southeast.
“At that time, there weren’t any over this way,” Jeremy said. “We called it a West Coast machine. I went to one of the expo shows and saw a Waratah processor – the first I’d seen in person. We were one of the first to run one in the Southeast. We got the first one, then two years later we got the second one. We’ve been running two ever since.”
Right now, the business runs two Waratah HTH622B heads and the Hills say reliability and support has kept them loyal customers, as Waratah celebrates 50 years in business.
“Waratah hasn’t let us down. We get our questions answered and any problems solved in a timely manner,” Charles said.
“I have confidence in when I get here in the morning, that Waratah is going to crank up and run all day and that’s what they do. We just don’t have the downtime it seems like other brands have,” Jeremy said. “Waratah also has a parts distribution center down the road.”
But good equipment and support are only part of the puzzle – the other is good employees. While the family is the heart of Hill, the entire team is vital to the company’s success.
“You can’t do a good job without good help,” Jeremy said. “They’re not blood kin, but they might as well be and in my mind they are. That’s the way we treat people.”
With love for their team and passion for their work, Hill Logging Inc is setting up for more generations of the business running in their blood. Jeremy has four kids of his own who are growing up in the woods, where there’s a new challenge every day.
“I never get bored,” Jeremy said. “I’ve never seen the same tree twice.”
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