MANTON — Three generations ago, Dan Bundy's grandfather harvested wood with a crosscut saw.
His father also was a lumberman. He used better technology, but much of the lumbering techniques were the same as when his grandfather was cutting.
Today, just getting started in the logging business requires an initial investment of around $1 million to purchase two large pieces of essential equipment — the skidder and harvester.
"Gone are the days when someone with a $300 chainsaw can walk into the woods and make a living as a logger," Bundy said. "There's quite a curve to getting into the business."
Bundy, who has operated Dan Bundy Logging out of Manton since 1987, knows a lot about the business.
As a third-generation lumberman, you could say he was born to do this job; he's also very good at it.
The Michigan Association of Timbermen and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee chose Bundy as the Logger of the Year.
"For the past 30 years, Dan Bundy Logging has strived to stay up-to-date on the ever-evolving, technological advances of logging, but still staying conscious of responsible forest management," wrote Wes Windover from Biewer Forest Management in regards to Bundy's accomplishments as a lumberman.
"Family has been Dan’s motivation for success. He has always seen his company as an extension of his family and deeply values each of his employees. His strong principles and work ethic have been a model that has encouraged and motivated his crews to be top producers with an excellent finished product. Dan values every employees’ job and knows that his success is directly related to their loyalty and respect."
Unlike the dramatic portrayals of hot-headed lumbermen on such television programs as "Axe Men," Bundy said actual loggers are much more professional.
"OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) would have us for lunch if we acted like that," Bundy laughed.
There is a common perception of the logger as brutish and unintelligent, Bundy said, adding this couldn't be further from the truth.
Today's lumbermen have to be sophisticated stewards of natural resources, along with proficient operators of complex harvesting equipment that can take years to master.
One of the most challenging aspects of modern logging is the production requirements: Mills demand a certain quantity of lumber, and if lumbermen can't deliver, they quickly go out of business, Bundy said.
The majority of wood harvested by Bundy — about 60-70 percent — comes from red pine trees, which he said are desirable because they're the only pine that can take a treatment.
Bundy said once they deliver the lumber, it is used by companies to produce a variety of products, including treated wood for building construction, paper and cardboard.
It's rewarding work, Bundy said, but the best things about it for him are the simple things — such as being outside every day.
"Thirty years is truly only the beginning for Dan. Slowing down is not an option," Windover wrote. "While his focus may be more on watching his grandsons play ball and spending time with them, he will never be far from the woods. Logging is just a part of him and he wouldn’t have it any other way."
The future of Dan Bundy Logging will soon be in the hands of the fourth and fifth generations of Bundys, with daughter Danielle, her husband Tobey and their two sons, Luke and Logan, taking over operations.