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Hoekstra Logging

The “Rat Pack” Is Growing

Roger Ratkowski and his wife, Toni, live in the small community of Saxon, Wisconsin. Roger began his work in the forestry industry around 1978. He worked for himself, buying and harvesting wood and timber products. He owned and operated a Timberjack 207D and then updated to a John Deere 340D.

In 1998, Roger teamed up with the Western Upper Peninsula Forest Improvement District, working for them until 2002 when he joined ranks with the Keweenaw Land Association as a private contractor. Roger’s son Mike joined the family enterprise in 2004. The “Rat Pack,” as they called themselves, was slowly growing as Roger and Mike transitioned from long wood to the mechanized processor world by investing in a Deere 490D and 120 and then a Deere 653G with the Fabtek head design. The Rat Pack was continually increasing not only its footprint in the industry but its annual wood production as well.

2010 presented the need to update the harvester. Roger and Mike purchased a Deere 160D Tracked Harvester with the Waratah 616C dangle head. Roger and Mike basically switched rolls as far as operating equipment. Mike now operates the harvester, and Roger runs their forwarder. After a year or so, the Ratkowski team ramped up their production again by using the Deere 703JH Tracked Harvester and a Deere 1010E six-wheel Forwarder.

Roger and Mike worked together as a solid team for a number of years, and then an opportunity presented itself... Roger’s second son, Mat, joined the Rat Pack. Roger and Mike invested in another Deere 703JH. Mat has been continually gaining experience operating the 703JH, and his production has steadily increased. Roger was doing his best to keep up with the increased production as he operated the very busy 1010E Forwarder; so he invited his youngest son, McKenzie, to take some pressure off by assisting in the forwarding responsibilities.

Roger enjoys working with his three sons in the woods and his daughter Michaela joined her father in the woods when she was nine for “Bring your child to work day”. Roger and Mike manage the growing Rat Pack as their next generation of forestry professionals emerge.

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