K D Ferguson Ltd: Keeping it in the family
After 32 years of contracting in timber harvesting, Alistair Ferguson, AG Ferguson, decided enough was enough, and it was finally time to call it a day.
One of his two teams of Harvesters and Forwarders working in central Scotland consisted of his brother Kenny, who operated the company’s Komatsu 931 harvester and his nephew, also named Kenny, who operated the Komatsu 875 forwarder. The two Kenny’s worked together on harvesting contracts awarded by Scottish Woodlands. They have a great working relationship and understand what is required of each other. Kenny Snr. also played a large part in the day-to-day running of the company.
Kenny Snr. was unsure what to do for the best when Alistair announced the news he was retiring. Forestry has been in his blood and for the last 33 years it is all that he has known. He started his forestry career as a tree feller, before progressing onto County skidders, forwarders and finally harvesters. He thoroughly enjoys the work, and all that forestry has to offer. Plus, there was Kenny to consider as he has worked with the company since completing his forwarder course at Barony College in 2002.
Seeking work elsewhere for another contractor would probably split up their successful partnership.
After much deliberation, Kenny Snr. approached Alistair about purchasing the two machines they were operating and continuing with the Scottish Woodland contracts. A price was agreed, and finance was arranged by Stephen Clarke of Eagle Asset Finance. K D Ferguson LTD was officially established and began trading in October 2022.
“I have helped Kenny Ferguson of K D Ferguson Ltd with his business finance requirements since he started trading last October,” said Stephen Clark of Eagle Asset Finance Ltd. “The business has had an excellent start with Kenny “at the helm” providing a very professional approach to the job. It has been a pleasure to deal with Alistair, his brother, over the years and, since his recent retirement, this has continued with Kenny heading up the new business”.
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The other two machines were sold to a customer overseas and AG Ferguson ceased trading as forestry contractors.
Kenny has collaborated with the same forester at Scottish Woodlands for 32 years and has built up a fantastic relationship in that time. Although forestry is in a slump, their timber continues to move off site regularly, which is reassuring when you have equipment finance and running costs to find each month.
Halfway through this year, Kenny had another big decision to make, do you keep the equipment you have, which had served them well, or upgrade. Kenny took the decision to replace his existing equipment as interest rates and the cost of new machines is increasing rapidly and may not be a viable option later.
Komatsu Forest were unable to supply new equipment in Kenny’s timeframe, so he approached Ponsse. The Annan based company had a new Buffalo and a used Ergo harvester with low hours and a H8 head sitting in the yard ready for immediate delivery. As Kenny Snr. is a “Go Getter” kind of guy, hands were shaken, and the deal was done.
This was not a foray into the unknown as father and son have both operated Ponsse machines in the past.
The new machines arrived at the end of July, and I caught up with the duo at a 7,000m³ site they were clearfelling just outside of Comrie in Perthshire. They had harvested around 1,000m³ of the Sitka Spruce, Silver Fir, Douglas Fir and European Larch mix. This site isn’t for the faint-hearted, as it has many awkward areas with plenty of steep ground thrown in for good measure. It is a job that requires an experienced harvester operator who understands the capabilities of the forwarder following him.
Kenny Snr. was doing a solid job of laying out the different sizes for the forwarder and building up any side slopes, with a good brash mat, that the forwarder had to cross. He was harvesting an area which was predominately mature Sitka Spruce with an average tree size in excess of 3m³. The Ergo and H8 harvesting head felled and processed them easily. Kenny is a damn good harvester operator and makes the job look far too easy. Watching him felling and processing the large trees you would have thought he had been on this Ponsse for many months and not just a couple of weeks. This model has the C44 parallel crane which Kenny believes has a lot more power, for harvesting mature timber, than the C5 he has previously operated. He likes the short wheelbase of the Ergo, as it is nimble for manoeuvring on awkward sites, and he is impressed with the overall stability of the harvester.
The H8 head, although it is only 100kg heavier than the H7, with little difference in size, is capable of felling and processing larger trees. It can fell and crosscut trees up to 800mm in diameter and has a lot more power in the feed rollers. The Ergo has a 286hp Mercedes Benz engine at its heart with a twin hydraulic pump system, one for the harvesting head and the other for the crane. It weighs 21,500kg which when spread over the eight wheels leaves little impression to the soil infrastructure.
I visited Kenny twice in Perthshire. On my second visit there wasn’t a lot of trees left to fell and he had completed just over 330 hours so was better placed to offer his thoughts.
“I am pleased with my decision as it ticks all the boxes, its productive, reliable, is easy to maintain/refuel, has good vision and offers a comfortable and quiet workplace with plenty of storage areas for all my bits and pieces.”
Young Kenny approached with his new Buffalo, so I took the opportunity to get his thoughts as well.
His initial response was regarding the Crane “It’s amazing” he explained while grinning from ear to ear “This is the first crane I have used with a double extension dipper boom and the reach is phenomenal. The slewing power is superb even when on steep areas and the active crane is a great system and user friendly.”
PONSSE Active Crane is a new way of controlling the loader and boosting efficiency. It is a loader control system which the operator uses to control the grapple movement instead of individual functions, allowing the operator to concentrate efficiently on loader work. It is easily controlled using two levers, one of which controls the grapple height from the ground and the other controls the direction of movement. In effect what it means, is that the operator does not need to control all the functions simultaneously.
Once the appropriate grapple location has been given to the machine, it will perform the lift and use the boom and extension automatically. The operator can easily switch between the Active Crane and conventional loader control, with a push of a button. Active Crane is based on PONSSE’s unique Sensor Module technology, which is used in the PONSSE Scorpion leveling system.
Kenny likes the layout of the display modules “They are big, clear and easy to use with all the important information right in front of you no matter which way you are facing. The vision from the roomy cab is excellent and it feels a good stable machine that inspires confidence.
“Re- fueling and greasing are easy with the crane’s kingpost, dipper and extensions able to be greased from a central bank of grease nipples under the slew pod which means that that you are standing on terra firma rather than clambering about on the bunks.
“I like the dampers on the extension and the stop on the kingpost which makes the crane a lot smoother to use and reduces any shock in the forwarder. It has balanced bogies which give great grip for climbing up steep areas.”
Kenny offered me a stint on the controls, and it was my first time ever using the active crane. I thought it was great once I managed to stop my hands from using the controls like a normal crane, the best way to describe it is to say that it made a rusty old operator look quite proficient!
The active crane is a great system for getting inexperienced operators up to speed in a much quicker time frame, which can only be good for the industry. I gave Kenny his forwarder back and watched him finish off the load, again he is another top-class operator taking a lot of pride in both his work and forwarder.
Father and Son work well together, with only ever two to three days’ work difference between the harvesting and forwarding. This way they can change their cutting specifications and get the new sizes to roadside in a quick turnaround.
It’s always a pleasure to see Kenny Snr. and young Kenny as they have a good positive outlook on the industry and are two of the nicest and most genuine people you will find working in forestry.
K D Ferguson Ltd: 07774108744
Eagle Asset Finance: 07967 588 739
Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.
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