In Conversation With Stu Wheeler
How did you get started in this business?
Stu: I started in 1979 Richmond, BC working for Washington Ironworks as a mechanic. I am a mechanic by trade and had spent some time with Howe Sound Timber between ’77 and ’79. They had 3 Washington TL6 log loaders and I had become very familiar with Washington equipment. I stayed with Washington Ironworks until 1984 when they shut down.
Tri Can Machinery bought the rights, drawings and anything else that went with Washington and continued building and repairing that equipment, so I went there and stayed until ’89 when I decided to try logging on my own. And, of course, our company had a Washington log loader as well as a yarder.
Where did logging take you?
We set up around Williams Lake and worked around the interior of BC as well as Pemberton. Those logging years opened up a lot of opportunities. A lot of loggers trusted me because of my experience with Washington equipment. At that time I owned an old Washington 78 and a tl-5h log loader. I started getting phone calls asking if I could work on their yarders and loaders. I got a pick up truck and was spending more time working on other people machines.
And that’s how Wheeler Equipment got started?
Almost. It turns out I wasn’t a very good logger so we moved back to the lower mainland, I hooked up with Tri Can again and before long all these loggers started phoning and we haven’t looked back since.
Tell us about your shop on River Road in Delta.
We’ve been here for almost seven years. We needed a big shop so we could build drag lines and it also gives us all the room we need for building and repairing yards. We currently have about 15 people on staff: office support as well as field service, welders and mechanics.
Are you currently looking for people to work at Wheeler?
We are always on the lookout for skilled people. Tradespeople who have experience on the logging side of things are hard to come by these days. But for anyone who wants to add some old school product know-ho to their expertise, this is a pretty fun place to spend your days.