At 8:15 on a Friday morning, just as the sun starts to shine above the trees in Taylor County Florida, Richard Schwab arrived at the mouth of a logging area where he and his son-in-law Ryan Wood, and a small logging crew hiked into the woods with their equipment. Ready to start an honest day’s work, they fired up their equipment only to have a hose failure.
Hot, irritated, and now losing money by the hour, they’d hike back to their truck, drive an hour into town, buy a hose and the fittings, drive back, and try again. “What we used to be able to do 30-40 years ago is the equipment was designed with a low-pressure hose you could rebuild in the woods,” says Schwab.
He adds, “With tech the way it is and everything having higher pressures today, you need a crimped hose because it’s a bigger, heavier-duty product. We asked ourselves, ‘How can we go back to the old way of doing things to let a wood producer make their own in the field?’.”
Schwab and his team made a Compact Hose Assembly Device, or CHAD. “It has its own crimper, foot pedal, and other supplies to get it done on your own in the woods,” he says excitedly. The whole thing was made to eliminate as much downtime as possible.
It’s the sort of American ingenuity that only comes from people who live and breathe the work and problems they’re solving for. Wood proudly notes, “With us operating in the logging industry and understanding what people were going through, it was easy for us to see how to improve this. Others aren’t involved in the labor of the logging or paving or construction industry. They’re not dealing with the headaches we all deal with.”
“We developed that product in several sizes,” says Schwab. “Nobody has been thinking about that along those lines and we’re excited about that and more with Timber Hauling.”
While the family still works in the logging industry, they now also run Schwab Bros. Hydraulics. The company is one of the inaugural vendors offering substantial discounts for Timber Hauling members.
As Wood explains, “On average, based on our customers, in their annual usage of hydraulic hose plus calculating for downtime and the cost of hose and fittings: loggers are going to save 40-50% to what they’re accustomed to paying. Schwab Bros. says they spend roughly $10,000 per crew per year on all hydraulic hoses & fittings. Across five crews, they experience $10-$20,000 in total savings for the company.
But those discounts don’t come out of their margins, or by cutting corners. As Schwab says, “Even though you might be working near a NAPA store, you still have to pay 100% markup and leave the job site and come back. Nine times out of ten that’s a three-hour ordeal. That’s crucial because if I can build it in thirty minutes, I can save two hours.”
He continues, “The way we’ve factored the cost savings in is through distribution and marketing. Ours don’t have four or five hands in the pot. It’s just our distributor and us, only two people in line. There’s not a 10-15% markup each time it’s touched. Others have three or four more people touching it. That’s how we can save loggers money — as much as 40%. We’re not cutting corners, except on who’s touching it.”
He adds, “The fittings are non-corrosive Zinc plated metal. It withstands the different arduous environments customers are in. It holds up quite a while.” To be sure, the team used it themselves for a long time before they decided to put their name behind it. As for fitting and crimp failures on their hoses, “I cannot recall one customer bringing up the fact it was a failure due to a manufacturing defect,” he says. “Most failures are overuse or abuse, and every hose will eventually fail in due time.” The Schwab family is opening up their hose and hydraulic offerings to a national audience through Timber Hauling. And the company is excited for customers to sign up and see the difference.
While most loggers surely have a go-to vendor or process, the small amount of time it takes to switch could be too economically significant to ignore. As Schwab points out with their own teams as an example, “If you take what we’re doing at $50k a year in hoses, with 5 crews, that’s $4-6,000 a year per crew to save.”