Chris Cook is a traditional do-it-yourself man. He supports American-made products and proudly owns his own small business. His company, Cook Woods, is a family-owned and operated sawmill located in Southern Oregon.
“I’m an average American who loves the country and the people in it,” Chris says. “All I try to do is help my employees make a good living.”
Chris took his love for American-made products to the next level when he was recently shopping for a piece of equipment to use on his property. He found his ideal machine at Bobcat Company and had a unique request for the employees who manufactured it.
Transforming “trash” into treasure
Cook Woods is a full-service sawmill. Turning unwanted raw materials into beautiful wood is what they do best. Reaching a global scale, the company is constantly reaching new countries to acquire the most beautiful, rare, exotic, and domestic woods possible. They offer 270 unique species of wood.
Chris is an Oregon native whose company focuses on sustainability. “We provide the product. We take raw materials and turn it into a usable state,” Chris says. “We set ourselves apart by using recycled wood from all over the world. For instance, orchards in California are being torn down for housing developments. The trees will be burned or sent to the landfill if they don’t have buyers. We take the wood and give it a new life. After we buy the unfinished wood, it must be cut and dried. From there, the customer can make the product into anything—high-end furniture, big slab tables, counsels, countertops or cabinets.”
Hobby turned career
Early on, Chris found his niche for wood in a high school woodworking class. He then started creating pens and fly boxes in his college dorm room. Chris received an aviation degree from the University of North Dakota, but quickly realized that woodworking was where he belonged. Being surrounded by small businesses his entire life, Chris was able to recognize the opportunity before him. Now, almost 20 years later, he owns a business of his own, where he has 11 employees.
As Cook Woods kept growing, Chris realized he needed help in expanding his company. Soon after, he began researching new equipment.
Finding the perfect partner in Bobcat Company
After learning of Bobcat Company in North Dakota, Chris found an interest in the products they offered.
“Quality was the number one thing we were looking for,” Chris says. “The Bobcat® T76 compact track loader was a solid-running machine, and the experience with the dealer was outstanding. Once I drove the track version, I noticed right away the tracks travel across the ground smoothly. It doesn’t bounce. The dirt in the bucket hardly moves when I’m at full speed. That’s how you know it’s a reliable piece of equipment. With the compact track loader, I can get jobs done efficiently; the faster I finish a job, the sooner I can get back to running my business.”
Beyond the bucket
Chris described his loader as a unique piece of equipment, with its versality highlighted when it comes to attachments. Equipped with the concrete mixer, bulldozer blade, grapple bucket, snow blower, fork and angle broom, the T76 is a versatile piece of machinery.
Chris doesn’t only use his compact track loader for wood-cutting purposes. He takes advantage of the versatility of attachments for the T76 to tackle a multitude of tasks on the property.
“We use the concrete mixer attachment for smaller jobs around the property, like when we need to patch concrete,” Chris says. “The bulldozer blade is helping us level the ground for our new 5,400-square-foot building advancement. And with the snow blower attachment, I can drive pretty much anywhere on the property and get rid of the snow in any direction.”
“Can I get your signature?”
In a world of uncertainty brought on by the pandemic, Chris had an idea. His question, “What would make me feel like my work matters and someone cares about what we’re making?” was answered by piecing together his appreciation for American-made products with his newly ordered piece of equipment.
Chris decided to show his appreciation by requesting that each person who had a part in manufacturing his T76 compact track loader put their signature on it. He says the signatures represent the hard work that went into making the machine, complete with a “Made in America” sticker.
Chris views his loader purchase as an investment. Not only will it serve his needs today, but the future may bring new possibilities with his T76 compact track loader. He stays busy with extra city jobs, such as brush and grass removal. But, as Chris says, “it’s nice to have options. Bobcat gives me some great options.”