Joe Heckel is Logger of Year
Joe Heckel, owner of Heckel Logging, Inc., was named Logger of the Year by the Louisiana Loggers Association Self Insured Fund, at the organization's annual meeting in Winnfield on April 20.
Heckel has been a member of the fund since July, 2005. He began his logging career working for his grandfather, Ralph Harmon, of Harmon Wood Company in Homer in summers as a technician while a high school student. His chores included painting lines and spotting timber, among others.
After high school graduation, he attended Louisiana Tech in Ruston for two years, then returned to work for his grandfather. He learned most of the jobs in the logging operation including operating a dozer, building roads, driving a log truck, and other jobs. All he ever really wanted to do was work in the woods.
When Bo Gibson, a contractor with Harmon Wood, retired from logging, Heckel bought the Bo Gibson job and started operating as Heckel Logging.
Growing from a small three-man crew, he now operates three jobs with four men each, plus two mechanics. Heckel uses contract trucks to haul product to the mills.
Heckel said that when he began logging the woods operations were a lot harder work physically, and more dangerous. Trees were felled and moved with cables, and equipment that involved more hands-on contact with logs. Today, work is easier and safer, with operators working in air-conditioned machines that cut the trees and move the logs with little phyical exposure.
Heckel uses mostly John Deere equipment, plus a Prentice loader, to take down the logs. Most of his logs go to Weyerhaeuser mills.
Joe and his wife Alyson have one son, three daughters, and one son-in-law, and a six-month-old grandson.