“Top-notch service is what we need, and we get that from Roland and Komatsu.”
For 40 years, the Cain family has called the sprawling woods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula home. Mark Cain and his brother started logging in Menominee when they finished high school. In 1979, the brothers took a huge gamble on a tip that there was a need for a skidder in Big Bay, and it paid off.
“We were speaking to a dealer we knew, and he told us that a company was looking for someone to do skidding,” recalled Mark. “So, on just this little piece of information, my brother and I bought a dozer and headed north. In retrospect, it wasn’t the most calculated decision we’d ever made. This was the late 70s, and interest rates were sky-high. We paid $600 a month, and I think 90 percent of our payment was interest – but somehow, we were able to make it.”
Fortunately for the brothers, their risk was rewarded. Cain Brothers Logging Inc. enjoyed 35 years of success and growth in Big Bay before the brothers took different paths and Mark headed a bit south to Negaunee.
Although Mark purchased his brother’s share of the company, the ‘Brothers’ in Cain Brothers Logging is still accurate because Mark’s sons, Josh and Chris, are now in the fold, as are their wives, who both work in the office.
Today, Cain Brothers handles harvesting and skidding jobs, typically on plots of the 600,000 acres of land that Weyerhaeuser owns in the Huron Mountains. Cain Brothers has roughly a dozen employees and works in terrain where most other companies won’t operate and still produces sizable hauls, up to 150 cords per day.
“I think when you ask people about us, the first thing they say is, ‘holy cow, they cut in some awful ground,’” noted Mark. “Our area is very rough and rocky, but we like it that way. We’ve found our niche, and it’s worked out for us.”
In addition to logging, Cain Brothers also builds logging roads to their job locations on the Weyerhaeuser land – performing bridge and culvert installations, as well as land clearing.
When Cain Brothers is working in a harsh environment, it turns to Komatsu and Roland Machinery Company Sales Rep Matt Orr to help tackle tough jobs. Cain’s Komatsu 855.1 forwarder has met any challenge the company has thrown at it.
“We purchased the 855 nearly three years ago, and it’s been amazing,” reported Mark. “It’s a very comfortable machine to operate, and the eight-wheel system is perfect for the terrain where we work. Our operators also love that the grapple is so responsive. It’s a terrific overall machine.”
To access tough locations, Cain Brothers turns to its Komatsu D51PX dozer and WA250 wheel loader to build and maintain logging roads.
“The D51 handles great and is perfect for clearing paths in the woods,” said Mark. “It’s a tank. We use the WA250 for plowing and other tasks when we’re building roads. They are both reliable and versatile, which is important for us.”
The logging company also uses two Rolly processing heads from Roland for its harvesters.
While great equipment is important to Mark and his crews, he says that Roland’s service beyond the sale has been invaluable.
“We switched to Komatsu and Roland about three years ago, and we’ve been highly impressed,” shared Mark. “Top-notch service is what we need, and we get that from Roland and Komatsu.”
“Everyone at Roland goes above and beyond to keep us up and running,” he added. “Matt is always there if we need him. Forestry Specialist Bert Johnson is also a huge asset. He’ll help us troubleshoot over the phone, which is important for us because if we need a service truck to come to the site, we’d be down all day. You don’t find many distributors willing to do that anymore, but Roland does.”
Cain Brothers, part two
With the second set of Cain brothers primed to take the business into its second generation, Mark is excited about the future. The company has its 40th anniversary in June, and Mark is confident that Josh and Chris can continue to celebrate longevity milestones going forward.
“To succeed in this business, you have to be able to adapt – and we’ve done that well through the years,” said Mark. “Both Josh and Chris have the attitude and work ethic to succeed.”
One of the goals that Josh and Chris share is to grow Cain Brothers Logging.
“There is an opportunity to expand, the work is out there,” said Josh. “Our biggest challenge is finding the right people. This isn’t an easy job. It’s cold and dirty, and we work long hours – it isn’t for everyone. We’re always on the lookout for people who really love this kind of work. The more of that type of person we can hire, the more we can grow.”