Ax Men: Rygaard Logging Forges a New Path (Season 10) | History


NARRATOR: In western
Washington state– Are you trying to
keep up, old man? I’m just going slow. My dad makes me smile. NARRATOR: Veteran logger Jason
Rygaard and his dad Craig are struggling to stay afloat. Come on back. NARRATOR: Rygaard Logging is
a powerhouse in the Pacific Northwest timber industry. [INAUDIBLE] second. Let’s go! God, that’s amazing. NARRATOR: Craig Rygaard started
the company in 1991 for Jason and his other son Gabe. –out of high
school, and I took some money that
I had and started buying some old machinery. Decided they didn’t want to
work at McDonald’s and they didn’t want to go to college,
so we started logging. NARRATOR: This
family-run business has thrived by harvesting large
timber on a massive scale. That yarder puffs out
a puff of black smoke, I know I’m making [BLEEP] money. That’s right. NARRATOR: Now Jason
runs the business, and fighting a falling
market has forced him to take smaller jobs. I’m going to take advantage
of it to keep my company going. NARRATOR: So Rygaard’s
harvesting high-priced alder trees on a small six-acre job. It’s not really stuff
that we would normally do. This isn’t up our alley for
running a big timber company. I got caught with my pants
down, and I feel bad, and I’m pretty positive
that I will find something. But this little bit of
work is going to cover what we need for wages. I want to keep this guy happy. He was nice enough
to give us a job even though the
markets are down. He’s got some alder. That’ll pay decent. Roger will cut. You run the Cat. Steve will [INAUDIBLE]. When we get done
with this, we’ll be able to go to the next
sale, but I got to find it. OK, here we go. NARRATOR: Each one
of these alder trees is worth an average of $550. If it all works
out right, I’ll be able to keep paying their
wages, keep them working, not have to lay anybody off. Watch out! Watch out! It feels like I’ve spent way
too much time in the office. Out of shape. A couple of years ago when
I was out logging every day, my brother was taking care
of all the office stuff. It was great. I used to do this job with
my partner, my brother. My sons have meant more
to me than life itself. Nothing came before my kids. He was a guy who
took care of all of us. You guys make me
proud every day. He loved doing business
and crunching numbers and figuring out how he was
going to make something work. That looks pretty cool. The day that Gabe got
killed in that car wreck, he came out to my
job to check on me. He was the happiest that I’d
ever seen in my whole life, and it just– my heart just swelled. I couldn’t help it. It was just like, man,
this guy is really– he’s good. I was just getting in my
pickup up to come to town, and the CB was on. And a guy said, yeah, there
was hell of a wreck in there. That guy in that Bronco don’t
look like he’s doing very good. That’s when I heard and I
knew it was [INAUDIBLE].. A Bronco? Oh no. Gabe was already dead by then. I appreciate it. No problem. All right. Gabe wouldn’t let me
hug him very much. So he got ready to go, and
he would have the door open on that old Bronco. And I just snuck
right up to him, and I just got my arm around
his shoulders like that. I got a hug on him. That was– you know,
and that’s my memory. That’s the last one. Then he left, and Gabe was gone. I still miss him. I still miss my brother. I miss our boy. Gabe worked really
hard to make Rygaard Logging what it is today. I have a job to
do now, and that’s to keep this dream alive. And if I can’t
keep it going, then I’m going to go down swinging. I just pray to God that
my brother is looking down on me right now and
can help me figure out how to make this work. This dream that my dad
started of Rygaard Logging will not stop. I will keep going to protect the
name and what my dad created.

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