Massive machines dance along the hillside as they cut and handle trees. They balance freshly cut trees in their sharp claws and move them down a steep decline, beginning the process of manufacturing lumber.
THE FAMILY BUSINESS
Growing up, Corbett Caudill Jr. knew that logging was his destiny. Between watching the men in his family cut lumber from a young age to joining the company after he graduated high school in 2005, Caudill Jr. found the same passion in logging as the men before him. Now as the operating manager of the business, he carries the legacy of his father and grandfather through upholding their values and mission of serving customers.
Caudill Chipping Company was founded in 1973, however, logging has been in the Caudill family for a generation longer.
For Corbett R. Caudill Sr., who turned 77 in November, logging is all he has ever known. His father was a logger and his family owned one of the first skidders in Ohio. Skidders are the core of logging operations — the machines pull cut trees out of cutting site and onto an area where the lumber can be further transported.
The family business has deep roots in Vinton County. Although the landowners they work with and the partners they haul to are obviously connected to the family business, Caudill Chipping’s reach extends farther than that.
“Most of [our trucks] are Kenworth and they’re built right in Chillicothe, the fuel that we buy, it’s all right there in McArthur, the local store that everybody stops at to get gas and pop and get their breakfast and lunch, you know, and then the parts store when we break down,” Corbett Caudill Jr. says. “I mean, it’s not just us, but the whole logging industry touches a lot more people than you would think.”
Strong connections are not the only value the company carries. Caudill Chipping is Master Logger certified, meaning that it follows Ohio Forestry Association standards of timber harvesting and efforts to reduce soil erosion.
There is no professional license for foresters in Ohio. As a result, The Ohio Forestry Association runs a Master Logger certification program, which offers different types of training such as best management practices for water quality and erosion control, chainsaw safety and tree felling techniques.
To maintain Master Logging Company status, re-certification is required every three years. The certification is beneficial because companies must have it to work with state forest lands.
“We work closely with all the soil and water [conservation divisions],” Caudill Sr. says.
Eighty-seven percent of Ohio’s forests are owned by private woodland owners, according to the ODNR Division of Forestry. Because Caudill Chipping primarily works with private land owners, they are contributing to conservation efforts where it is not mandated because Ohio’s best logging practices are voluntary.
“To really influence the force of the state, you know, we’ve got to talk with and help the private landowners … make good decisions,” says Greg Guess, Division of Forestry deputy chief. “Otherwise, we can manage public land, you know, great, but it’s a small percentage [of land].”
Caudill Chipping logs 1,000 to 1,200 acres of timber per year, depending on the weather. In comparison, family forest owners in Ohio own a total of 5.9 million acres of woodland.
“[Caudill Jr.] does not, would never, cheat anyone. And he has talked to people who have said, ‘Well, somebody came in and they said they will pay me this,’ and he says ‘I think they were cheating you. Because this is what it’s worth,’ and he will give exactly what he can out of them,” says Christina Caudill, Caudill Jr.’s aunt. “And he takes no extra because it’s their land, it’s their investment, they need to get their investment back.”
Integrity extends to the Caudill’s business practices. The family business was founded on principles of fairness and hard work. From a lesson on sharing from his father when he was young to walking property lines with land owners and their neighbors at age 77, Caudill Sr. is more than the president of the company. He upholds his father’s vision of values.
“The thing that always echoes in my head is, Dad would always tell us you can give a little more than you tell a person but you never can do less. And [to] promise what you know you can do, and then try your best to do more,” Caudill Sr. says.