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Central Pine Lumber
Bradley Rootkie, owner of Central Pine Lumber, learned how business worked at an early age and said, “Nothing was given to me and nothing was handed down.”

A Work Ethic Thanks to Dad & Grandpa

When we asked Brad Rootkie, Central Pine Lumber’s owner/operator, how he got started in the forestry business, he sighed and said, “It was nothing given to me and nothing handed down.” He then settled in to tell us the story.

He grew up down the road from his grandfather’s cattle farm, where he spent most of his time. “Grandpa always had something to do and was fun to be around,” Brad said.

By age 10, his grandfather made sure he knew how business worked and Brad’s father purchased four pigs for him to raise. In two years, he had 200. He not only raised the pigs but bought and sold them while helping his grandfather with his cattle. At age 12, Brad’s grandfather was nearing retirement and the plan was to sell most of the cattle. Brad took the calves to raise his own herd and before long had 50 head of beef cattle. He raised livestock until the age of 16 when he began looking for a new challenge.

A swift change to forestry

It was at this time that the forestry industry caught his attention. Brad began his forestry career with a 1967 Pettibone Master 6 skidder, selling wood to Future Wood. Did we mention that he was doing all this on weekends, summers, and holidays while he was also going to school?

In 1989, he opened Brook Park, Minnesota-based Central Pine Lumber with his current operator and family friend, Mark Knudson. They initially sawed lumber but soon found that the markets were tough for pulp lumber. They then re-tooled and purchased a portable Morbark pulp wood peeler. They found better luck with this venture and a market in both LP Hayward Mill and American Excelsior Mill in Rice Lake, Wisconsin.

In 1991, the business boomed again when Brad’s father-in-law became involved as a trucker giving Brad and Mark a means of hauling wood to the mills. Soon Brad purchased a John Deere 440D with a Morbark sheer to increase production. This purchase catapulted the business to the next level and Central Pine now has a large fleet of John Deere machines including:

  • 648 G3 Grapple Skidder
  • 748 G3 Grapple Skidder
  • 748H Grapple Skidder
  • 2154D Swing Machine
  • 853M Tracked Feller Buncher

Finding a new machine

Recently, Brad and his McCoy Territory Manager, Tony Macke arranged to have a new 843L delivered to his work site. The demo went swimmingly and operator, Mark, loved the machine’s visibility, power, and quietness, along with some new felling features. A deal was signed. As Brad was finalizing paperwork for the purchase of the 843L rubber tire, Tony returned to the job site only to find the new unit parked.

Obviously, Tony was curious as to why the unit wasn’t working. He soon found that the blow down was too difficult to cut without a more functional felling head and that the ground was too soft. A week passed with anticipation of settling on the new rubber-tired 843L. In the meantime, Brad’s track shear blew a pump bringing production to a halt.

Tony left Brad’s crew on a Thursday evening and received a call from Brad the next day asking for details on a John Deere track unit. A demo was arranged despite inclement weather. The crew was soon up, running, and loving the machine. Brad was delighted to find that the machine had such low ground pressure and was able to work when the other units could not.

Brad loves using John Deere machines because he is so impressed with the engines. “I’ve always been a fan of the engines,” he said. “They have a long life-expectancy and very little downtime. The equipment is built for the woods and it really holds up. All the John Deere equipment has been very good to my business and family – it has given me a good life.” He went on to say that he knows he’s going to get a good trade-in value on this equipment and is confident that parts will be available.

He enjoys working with McCoy because the staff is friendly. “I can count on the service techs; they are always good and helpful. I have a great relationship with the sales department. I know that I will be well taken care of when things go bad,” he explained.

As busy as he is, you wouldn’t think that Brad would have time for much outside of business but he is a dedicated family man and serves on several community boards, including the Town of Brook Park, Federated Co-Op, and the Minnesota Timber Producers Association TPA.

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