Logging Expo returns to Escanaba

Jordan Beck | Daily Press From right, Ponsse Service Trainer Matt Godard shows Ponsse’s new service training center to Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo attendees John Zupon and Ken Hetto Friday.

ESCANABA — The Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo is being held in Escanaba once again this year. While the expo started on Thursday, interested people in the area still have a chance to attend this event — it will be open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.

Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association (GLTPA) Event Coordinator Heather Zimmer said, as of Friday, this year’s expo was going well.

“So far… everything seems to be going pretty smoothly,” she said.

Each year, the expo’s location alternates between Escanaba and various venues in Wisconsin. Zimmer said the GLTPA is happy to bring this event back to the U.P. State Fairgrounds this year.

“We really do enjoy coming back to Escanaba,” she said.

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Approximately 8,000 people are expected to attend this year’s Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo by the time it wraps up at 1 p.m. today. This event is once again being held at the U.P. State Fairgrounds in Escanaba this year.

The GLTPA estimates that approximately 8,000 people will have attended this year’s expo by the time it wraps up today. Zimmer also noted that 2017’s expo has attracted a record-setting number of exhibitors.

“We have more exhibitors than we’ve ever had before, so that’s very exciting for us,” she said. Over 300 exhibitors are participating in the expo this year.

According to Zimmer, one of the biggest changes at the expo in 2017 was the increased level of ambition showcased at some exhibitors’ booths.

“They’re trying to get creative with how they go about it,” she said.

This approach could be seen at the booth of John Deere dealer Nortrax. In addition to the heavy equipment normally shown at this booth, a shed was set up at the booth to demonstrate technologies using JDLink. This service allows equipment owners to track their equipment and view information related to their equipment electronically.

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Tayte Burmeister, of Sheldon, Wis., gets an up-close look at a Ponsse forwarder during the Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo Friday. Approximately 8,000 people are expected to attend this year’s expo by the time it wraps up this afternoon, and over 300 exhibitors are participating in the event.

Nortrax Product Support Technology Representative Rob Newman said expo guests have been impressed with the equipment on display in this section of the booth.

“(There’s) a pretty big ‘wow factor’ here,” he said.

While some attendees have felt overwhelmed by this technology at first, Newman said many of them have been able to move past this by finding out more about JDLink.

“The more they learn, the more they want to learn,” he said.

Heavy equipment company Ponsse also made some changes to their expo booth this year. Marketing Coordinator Diana Olkowski said that one new addition to Ponsse’s booth is a service training center. The center features a Tier 4 Mercedes-Benz engine.

“We can give people training right on site,” she said.

While Ponsse does sell some equipment at the expo, Olkowski said this is not the main reason Ponsse attends the event. Instead, the company primarily uses the expo as a networking opportunity.

“This logging (expo) means a lot to us, because it’s a good chance for our staff to socialize and get feedback from our customers,” she said.

At a booth run by union Operating Engineers Local 324, visitors have been able to try their hand at a forwarder simulator.

“We use this for outreach,” Mark Zinser of Operating Engineers Local 324 said. In addition to the expo, this simulator has been featured at schools and career fairs.

The simulator has helped Operating Engineers Local 324 connect with today’s youth, Zinser said.

“I just think it’s important to be able to reach out to the younger generation,” he said.

Zimmer encouraged anyone in the area with interests related to logging — including people not directly involved with the forest products industry — to visit the expo today.

“The show is really good for anybody, and not just people in the industry,” she said.

One expo guest who exemplified this advice was Sault Ste. Marie resident Dan Tomasi, who visited the expo along with a few friends Friday. Tomasi said he attends this event on a regular basis.

“We come up here for a four-wheeler trip every year, and when it’s in Escanaba, we come and check this out,” he said. While he is not involved with the forest products industry, Tomasi said he is fond of seeing the semi trucks on display at the expo, as he used to work for a trucking company.

Expo attendee Ron Setter, who owns a tree farm and a small sawmill in Little Lake, Mich., said he particularly likes the social elements of this event.

“It’s just an enjoyable time,” he said.

Admission to the Great Lakes Logging and Heavy Equipment Expo is free for GLTPA members and children under the age of 18. There is an admission fee for non-members aged 18 and older, and there is also a fee for parking.