by Mike Crouse
Originally from Montana, Clarence Greenup moved to Eastern Oregon sometime in the late 30s settling in Heppner, where he later met and married his bride, and where many in the family still reside. Around ‘49 Clarence Greenup moved to the Portland area working and raising his family including Mark Greenup who was born in 1954.
Upon graduation from David Douglas High School in Portland, Mark Greenup found a job, which brought him back to logging in Heppner. “Initially he’d run Cat for Gary Patterson out of Hepner, Oregon,” explained his son, Jon Greenup. “A lot of our family is still there,” and thus he began his logging career in addition to spending his time at making more than “just a living.” He met and married Terry (Kahl) around ‘76 while still in Heppner, and as the family grew so did his incentive to earn more, “...constantly looking for other ways to help support the growing brood.” With Eastern Oregon logging becoming more of a challenge, and considering all the options available, Greenup found opportunity on the west side, which uprooted the young family moving to Estacada, Oregon.
“Around ‘81 or ‘82 when we moved here,” explained Jon Greenup, “he (his dad Mark) bought the little Springwater Store here.” His enterprising nature was evident, “...he was a timber faller, worked on a ranch, and was doing a bit of everything to keep things afloat. He’d not intended to be a logging contractor, however that was a business that could generate an income along with others in their new home. “He cut timber during the day, work at the store at night, (he and mom ran that store” and he’d also get hay from Eastern Oregon, and deliver it over here.
Greenup was a consummate entrepreneur starting several businesses along the way in addition to the Springwater store, which eventually included a Christmas tree farm, a trucking company, and nursery to name a few. “He was a go getter,” son Jon Greenup explained with a smile. “If he had an extra dollar he spent it, worked seven days a week to take care of our family.” Then continued noting it was, “... something he passed on to all of us.”
In the mid-80s, around ‘86 Mark Greenup and a cutting partner, John Keller, partnered up buying a logging side from another contractor and formed G&K Logging. “It was a single side, doing salvage and thinning jobs,” Jon Greenup explained. Although his grandfather wasn’t involved in logging per se , “...he would come out and help dad build roads and stuff,” to help the operation out in those early years.”
A few years later in 1988 each of the partners went their own way, forming two separate companies, and Greenup Logging emerged.
“It was all ground skidding,” Greenup explained, a small operation from the start. “They had a loader, skidder and a crawler, with three operators: skidder operator, a chaser, and dad running the shovel.”
Jon Greenup was the only son (along with three daughters), and his dad’s companion when he’d be in the woods working on weekends, riding in the cab with his dad and keeping him company, then doing a bit more as he grew. “I learned everything sitting behind that Cat loader,” with his dad when he was younger.
“I started working in the summers, around 11 or 12,” Greenup explained adding, “I’d set chokers behind the right-of-way,” road building sides. “I’d do presets, learning as we did it. Dad also let me drive the skidder around when I was smaller, getting fuel and such. When I was 11 I loaded my first truck with that old loader out there (which is in their bone yard to this day). That was on a Saturday, and dad was setting chokers behind the Cat to get a chunk done, when three trucks showed up and I loaded two of them!” He’d have loaded the third as well, “... but the third guy wouldn’t let me load it. They were nice logs, 12-13 log loads!” Recalling those times Greenup mirrored a lot of loggers thinking explaining, “When you’re that young you want to get into a machine and try it out. It was wonderful! Now not many kids have that opportunity.” Then added from his own experience that many such experiences in learning “... trades aren’t passed down in this era,” which is a loss to future generations and business.
Upon graduation from Estacada High School in June of ‘86, he had only a vague idea of his future. “I didn’t’ have a clue what I would do,” Greenup explained with a smile, and being just 17 at the time his options were somewhat limited as well, then smiled at his college ambitions, “I thought I’d become a forester,” though he admitted his motivation was to, “...have my dad come work for me,” and thus be able to tell dad what to do. But in spite of his father’s interests in his son going to college, “...college wasn’t for me.” He’s enrolled then dropped out two different times.
But fate intervened when one of the key guys on his father’s crew lost his life in a traffic accident. “I knew dad needed help and I didn’t want to go to college. My intent was to come to work for a while ‘til things leveled out,” but a while quickly turned into a life-long love of the business. While many of his classmates were still pursuing their college dreams, “...I was 18 or 19 at the time and making $18-19/hour, young, in shape, and making a man’s wages,” all good things. “Five years later I was still making better money than my friends,” and loving his work as well.
At that point Greenup Logging was “...primarily a shovel/skidder side,” Greenup explained, but the opportunity presented itself for some small tower logging as well, which led them to buying a “home-made A-frame yarder we called ‘Metusala,’ a nickname one guy on the crew gave it, and it stuck!. It had BU80 drums, the 35-ft. A-Frame, direct drive and a 335 Cummins.” While it wasn’t pretty it worked well enough for the yarding they had come their way off and on. When yarding they had a three-man brush crew, yarder engineer, chaser, and loader operator. Metusala met its demise when replacing a component exceeded its value, and it was replaced by a truck mount yarder with BU30 drums.
In 2000 they had some big yarder logging jobs that justified their buying West Coast Yarder to handle the work. It worked, it’s been their “big” yarder ever since. While it’s rarely used, their approach to logging has been consistent: minimal yarder work, mostly shovel or skidder logging, and yarding as needed to complete the job..
The company started doing more small, private logging (farmer patch) jobs then as well, “...and I’d work on that side if the yarder wasn’t running,” Greenup explained although, “when the yarder was running I was on the yarder side.”
A new enterprise
After working and learning more about the business side of logging, Greenup explained, “...dad thought it’d be a good idea to start my own business, to learn what it was like to own it, see where money comes from, time involved, the costs and other realities.” In 2001, that led to his purchasing “Lucile” a 1989 Peterbilt 378, 425 Cat power plant and a ‘99 Wildcat trailer with push up stakes, he purchased from Frank Payne. “The guy I bought it from carried the contract,” Greenup explained, “and drove it for the first six months for me too. We used his permits, insurance, everything to help me get started. He really helped me.” The new company, Jon Greenup Logging was established, with Jon hiring a full time driver (Chuck Jernigan) while he continued logging for his father’s company.
“It was a good lesson in business, gave me the right mindset,” he said and was quick to explain, “but I was paid by my dad, so I’d be in early and finish late so my truck would do extra loads, stayed to be sure it was done, so we made a good team.”
Jon Greenup purchased his second truck later on, a quick-change lowboy truck that could move equipment or be used as a logger. Today he has six trucks total, “Petes, mostly Kenworths, one Western Star and two dump trucks.”
Transitioning to yoders
In the early 2000s Jon Greenup became a partner when he bought half the company shares from his mother when his parents divorced, “...so dad and I were the two shareholders,” he explained.
At that same time, looking for additional work they found it with Hancock Forest Management out of Cathlamet, Washington. “They needed wood moved and we did it,” Greenup said with a smile.
The nature of one of those jobs led to Greenup’s buying their first yoder in 2005 “...cause I needed it on that job and I didn’t want to start the old yarder,” he explained. With the success of that, “Hancock started lining up a lot of combo jobs, shovel and tower, so we were able to stay busy.” It was a winning approach that’s worked well ever since.
With his father encountering some major health issues at the time, he chose to back away from the logging operations, “...kind of handed over the reins (to me) at that point,” then started the nursery business he’d hoped would provide income with his no longer logging.
Not long after that Mark Greenup then purchased his father’s airplane, a ‘62 Cessna 206 in 2005. “He went completely through it, rebuilt it so it was in top condition,” Greenup explained, “learned how to fly, and flew a lot. He’d fly here to Heppner, or fly up to log hours just to improve. Dad was a decent pilot, took it seriously.”
Returning from an Eastern Oregon trip on October 28th, 2008, the plane lost power as he was approaching the landing in Estacada, the wing hit a tree, “...and that was that,” Greenup said. “We went into the worst times for anyone in 2009 with all that turmoil... and we didn’t do anything for five months, then Hancock gave us a job, and the China Market arrived.”
Since 2009 it’s been a steady, gradual improvement for Greenup Enterprises, including their starting work with Cedar Mountain, a private forest management company, who contracts the logging on those “farmer patches” through Greenup as well.
There are two components to the company: Greenup Logging (the trucking side of the business) and Greenup Enterprises, Inc. (the logging, road building sides, and other enterprises), which employs 33 people total including Jon, along with Jill his bride (married in 2004), business partner, bookkeeper and mother of their three rambunctious boys.
They have four logging sides and a single road side working when we visited:
Side one has two shovel logging operations sharing a processor on the same site; side two has both their yoders working close by, which share a dangle-head processor; third side is their West Coast Falcon tower and processor; and side four a tractor side using a skidder, crawler, loader, and dangle head processor. Tower and yoder sides were using 18 Fortronics electronic choker bells, which includes spares, fast, convenient, and safe.
In addition Greenup had a road building and maintenance side as well.
Greenups have their own Tigercat 830 feller buncher with Quadco intermittent, operated by veteran logger Keith Morris, used on the appropriate feller buncher ground.
They contract their hand cutting with Doug Maurer, owner of Maurer Cutting, out of Molalla.
They have their own log trucks but also contract with other gypos in the area. “We have multiple trucks,” Greenup explained. “Our truck boss in Washington is Todd McElhaney, he’s out of St. Helens (Oregon). In Oregon Jon does his own scheduling, adding, “I call Todd when I need extra trucks.”
In addition to their mentioned businesses, there’s also the nursery, the firewood, and lastly the Christmas tree businesses which also run under the Greenup Enterprises banner, those businesses are located near the company shop and the Greenup’s home. “I’ve done the firewood off and on from when I was a kid,” Greenup explained. “We always did firewood: 20-30 cords a year, but we also deliver truck loads full for others to cut.”
On average the shovel sides work 55+ hours a week depending on demand, yarder crews work 45-50 hours a week, again dependent on demand.
They also have a simple IRA plan and health insurance coverage for employees with the option for family to buy in.
Three years ago Greenup hired, “...Chad Wheeler as our forester,” he said. “He’s my number two guy, helps me bid, takes care of the Fed, State, BLM sales. He keeps me organized.”
Through the few days we spent, it was clear much of the company’s success came from the skills of a very capable crew, combined with Greenup’s understanding and building those crews to run well, cooperatively, and professionally, maintaining good humor and camaraderie. “Honestly, the reason we’re doing so well is because we have awesome guys! My guys are very dedicated, very loyal,” he said smiling. “That’s why we have all the work: Quality! My guys are quality guys, and work their butts off! I can’t give enough credit to my guys: 95% of them are irreplaceable. It’s all about chemistry: the right guys in the right spot,” Greenup added. And in the day of building strong relationships with crew and customers, “...we’ve surrounded ourselves with good people, and they respect other people.”
At 35, Jon Greenup and wife Jill have a good positioning in what appears to be a very good series of years ahead of them. Given another 25 years, his own sons, Robby (six), Matt (three and a half), and Brett (fourteen months) could be in position for a successful transition into a third generation of Greenup Enterprises. Certainly the attitude is being instilled now as they grow with a growing company.