Tiger­cat cel­e­brates sil­ver an­niver­sary

Australian Forests and Timber - - Tigercat Anniversary -

THIS YEAR marks the sil­ver an­niver­sary of Tiger­cat which be­gan with the phi­los­o­phy ...de­sign and man­u­fac­tur­ing ex­cel­lence, ded­i­ca­tion to the cus­tomer, vi­sion, per­se­ver­ance and team­work ... and that ethos con­tin­ues to­day!

It was in 1992 that a small group of pro­fes­sion­als with ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in all facets of the log­ging equip­ment in­dus­try teamed up with the Cam­bridge, On­tario-based fab­ri­ca­tion com­pany, MacDon­ald Steel.

At the time, MacDon­ald Steel was en­gaged in the fab­ri­ca­tion of com­po­nents for many well-known mo­bile equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers. How­ever, owner and CEO Ken MacDon­ald en­vi­sioned the cre­ation of a new com­pany that would build upon MacDon­ald Steel’s fab­ri­cat­ing ex­per­tise, a com­pany that would de­sign and man­u­fac­ture pur­pose­built forestry equip­ment. It was a gam­ble be­cause at the time there were many large and es­tab­lished com­pa­nies com­pet­ing in a crowded forestry equip­ment mar­ket.

The orig­i­nal team mem­bers per­formed ex­haus­tive field re­search in the south eastern US, one of the world’s great wood pro­duc­ing re­gions. This on-the-ground ex­pe­ri­ence with log­ging con­trac­tors de­ter­mined that even with four man­u­fac­tur­ers com­pet­ing for mar­ket share, drive-to-tree feller bunch­ers were fall­ing well be­low the ex­pec­ta­tions of the cus­tomer base, fore­most in terms of me­chan­i­cal re­li­a­bil­ity and longevity.

Fo­cus­ing on the in­put and re­ac­tions of south eastern US log­gers, Tiger­cat set out to de­sign a tech­ni­cally su­pe­rior al­ter­na­tive. The re­sult was the 726 feller buncher, quickly rec­og­nized as a more durable, re­li­able ma­chine ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing greater pro­duc­tion. The 726 also proved to de­liver a longer use­ful life with sig­nif­i­cantly higher up­time than com­pet­ing ma­chines.

The im­me­di­ate suc­cess of the 726, cou­pled with Tiger­cat’s high re­gard for cus­tomer feed­back and sat­is­fac­tion, set a high stan­dard early in the game which the com­pany con­stantly aims to sur­pass.

The Pro­to­type 726

Pulled off a north Florida high­way in 1992 was a Mack truck haul­ing a strange look­ing feller buncher. Two guys stood armed with a punch and die set and a ballpeen ham­mer: a truck driver called Don Snively and a trades­man named Jim Wood. Both worked for MacDon­ald Steel. Se­rial num­bers and pa­per­work were mi­nor de­tails that no one thought of dur­ing the rush to get the pro­to­type Tiger­cat 726 feller buncher built — un­til the prospect of jail loomed, that is!

When it came time to build the pro­to­type Tiger­cat in 1992, Wood was the ob­vi­ous choice. As a li­censed elec­tri­cian, mill­wright and au­to­mo­tive me­chanic, he had the skills and tal­ent to deal with the com­pli­ca­tions and un­cer­tain­ties that were sure to ac­com­pany the as­sem­bly of a new ma­chine in the back cor­ner of a steel fab­ri­ca­tion plant.

The clock was tick­ing and Wood re­calls be­ing ques­tioned by Tiger­cat pres­i­dent Tony Iarocci re­gard­ing the ma­chine’s state of readi­ness. He an­swered, “We can ship it now or wait three more weeks. Tony said ‘ship it to­mor­row.’ We had the bat­ter­ies bungee corded into the belly pan.”

Snively climbed into the old Mack truck bound for Expo South­east in Tifton, Ge­or­gia. Wood fol­lowed in a pick-up. They worked on the ma­chine at rest stops in the evening. By the time they reached Ge­or­gia, it was ac­cept­ably fin­ished. Af­ter the show the two of them, of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by Iarocci and com­pany owner and CEO, Ken MacDon­ald, toured the south east with the ma­chine.

Re­call­ing Expo South­east and the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of an­other equip­ment man­u­fac­turer who brought them, Wil­lis­ton Tim­ber coowner Ed­die Hodge says, “They were rush­ing us through the show to get us to [their] ma­chines and we wanted to stop and look at this new Tiger­cat. The damn en­gine was turned around the wrong way… be­sides it was a catchy name.”

Shortly af­ter the show the Ed­die and his op­er­a­tor flew to Louisiana where the ma­chine was be­ing demon­strated and met up with Iarocci, MacDon­ald, Snively and Wood. There were not many trees left on the site but they made do. “We cut some stumps and drove it around on some hills and found a few stand­ing trees,” ex­plains Ed­die. Then he pro­posed the one-month trial.

Ed­die re­calls, “I said to Tony, if you want to you can bring that thing to Florida. We don’t know any­thing about it, so you’ll have to leave the me­chanic with it. If it stays to­gether for a month, we’ll buy it.’ So that was the deal. It didn’t even have a se­rial num­ber on it. Don gets stopped by the Florida DOT. They’re call­ing us. He calls Canada and he’s down for like half a day. You know stolen equip­ment moves like that, you grind the se­rial num­bers off… “They’re from Canada. They don’t have any pa­per work. They’ve got a day cab truck. And all they wanted was to get rid of that thing and go home.”

By the time Snively dropped the ma­chine to the Hodges and headed for home, he had been away 40 days.

Fast for­ward a quar­ter of a cen­tury and Tiger­cat units have ad­vanced from a sin­gle pro­to­type to a broad range of forestry equip­ment and spe­cial­ized off road ma­chin­ery.

Pro­duc­ing 19,000 ma­chines and count­ing, Tiger­cat has grown into a global suc­cess story — by help­ing its cus­tomers to suc­ceed. With an em­ployee count of 1,400 and over 150 in­de­pen­dent dealer lo­ca­tions world­wide, Tiger­cat has ac­com­plished what many thought to be unimag­in­able in just 25 years.

To com­mem­o­rate the 25-year mile­stone the first Tiger­cat ma­chine ever built was pur­chased back from the first cus­tomers, Wil­lis­ton Tim­ber of Wil­lis­ton, Florida. The ma­chine was taken back to the fac­tory in Canada and fully re­built.

The photos show the 25-year-old orig­i­nal 726 when it was picked up from Florida and the re­built 726 feller buncher be­side it.

The Aus­tralian con­nec­tion came in De­cem­ber 1999 when an H845B Har­vester was sold to Kevin Mor­gan in Tas­ma­nia in Fe­bru­ary 2000 --- that also hap­pened to be the very first Tiger­cat to ever leave the shores of North Amer­ica.

Kevin traded this unit around three years ago at ap­prox­i­mately 30,000 to 32,000 hours and it’s still pow­er­ing on for an­other client in Tas­ma­nia.

It’s in­ter­est­ing to note that Kevin’s ini­tial pur­chase was three Tiger­cat ma­chines ... two H845B Har­vesters and a Tiger­cat Skid­der. Kevin is still run­ning mostly Tiger­cat ma­chines and has pur­chased 33 units over the years.

“Aus­tralia was Tiger­cat’s first “in­ter­na­tional” mar­ket at a time when we had built al­most right on 2000 ma­chines,” said Glen Mar­ley, Fac­tory Sales Rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Aus­trala­sia & South East Asia.

“We now have ap­prox­i­mately 400 ma­chines re­tailed in Aus­tralia, and around 1700 in the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­place,” he said.

The ma­chine in this photo is in­deed the first ma­chine #845H0601 that left North

They were rush­ing us through the show to get us to [their] ma­chines and we wanted to stop and look at this new Tiger­cat. The damn en­gine was turned around the wrong way… be­sides it was a catchy name.

Amer­ica and be­longed to Kevin Mor­gan.

It’s in­ter­est­ing to note that Cana­dian-based-Tiger­cat has ex­ported its spe­cial­ist ma­chin­ery to Ar­gentina, Aus­tralia, Bel­gium, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, Swe­den, United King­dom, United States, Uruguay, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Ge­or­gia, Ken­tucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mary­land, Michi­gan, Min­nesota, Mis­sis­sippi, New York, North Carolina, Ok­la­homa, Ore­gon, South Carolina, Ten­nessee, Texas, Vir­ginia.

■ Spick and span ... the re­built 726 pro­to­type.

Tiger­cat’s first cus­tomer, Ed­die Hodge of Wil­lis­ton Tim­ber with Tiger­cat dis­trict man­ager, Don Snively.

■ Ken MacDon­ald, Tiger­cat chief (dur­ing a visit to Aus­tralia).

■ (l-r) Glen Mar­ley, Tiger­cat Dis­trict Man­ager for Aus­trala­sia, Kevin Mor­gan (Di­rec­tor/CEO of the Kevin Mor­gan Group of Com­pa­nies), Gary Olsen, Tiger­cat In­ter­na­tional Sales Man­ager.

■ The Wil­lis­ton clan in front of the first Tiger­cat ma­chine ever built.

■ Not so spick and span ... the pre re­built 726 still in the field.

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