Beginning Thursday, October 8 at 10 p.m. ET/PT, HISTORY® offers an inside look into the logging industry through the eyes of a rambunctious sawmill company. In Big Timber (10×60) logger Kevin Wenstob and his team, go to extremes to keep the family sawmill, and their way of life, alive. Deep in the heart of Vancouver Island, Kevin has invested $1.5 million on a remote timber claim high up the steep, rugged slopes of Klitsa Mountain. Home to some of the best lumber in the world, Kevin supplies his customers with the top-quality red and yellow cedar, fir, and rare hemlock that cannot be found anywhere else.
The team logs on rugged mountain cliffs where slopes reach angles as steep as 60 degrees. The weather is unforgiving, turning from scorching hot to torrential rain in a heartbeat, and snow comes early at this altitude. On top of everything else, Kevin’s equipment continues to get weathered by the harsh conditions and he is constantly concerned about equipment breakdowns.
With a thousand truckloads of timber waiting up top for him, he could make millions if he succeeds in getting them all down. However, it’s a huge gamble, and if he fails he could lose everything his family has worked for, he risks a hefty fine for any logs he leaves behind. It’s a constant battle to complete his mission and stay alive, but they’re up for the fight.
MEET THE CAST
Owner, Wenstob Timber Resources
Kevin Wenstob is a life-long logger and sawmill operator. Along with his partner-in-life Sarah Fleming, he’s the owner of Wenstob Timber Resources, one of the last independent sawmill and logging operations on Vancouver Island. Kevin and Sarah started the company together 25 years ago, and have been working hard to keep the mill alive ever since. Kevin loves having his son Erik working alongside him and Sarah to help the mill succeed. When Kevin was in grade three, his family left the city behind, moving to the wilderness coast of Vancouver Island to start a new life for themselves. Growing up among the island’s forests, inlets and mountains gave Kevin a deep love for nature. It also gave him a deep respect for how deadly nature can be. From his youngest days, Kevin learned how to navigate the raging seas and high tides of the Pacific Ocean, and survive on the dangerously steep slopes of the island’s mountain ranges.
Owner, Wenstob Timber Resources
Sarah Fleming is the owner of Wenstob Timber Resources, along with her partner-in-life Kevin Wenstob. As General Manager, Sarah oversees their sawmill and sales operations, while Kevin runs things up on their mountainside timber claim. She’s the first to admit, though, that her biggest job is managing Kevin. Sarah is a highly trained medical professional, and worked as an operating room nurse for many years. Back when they started their business, all Kevin had to his name were a pickup truck and a chainsaw, so it was Sarah’s career and salary that gave banks the confidence they needed to invest in their startup. In the early years Kevin ran the business on his own, then about twelve years ago it grew too big for one person to handle. At that point Sarah decided to leave her career behind and work full time at the mill.
Heavy Duty Mechanic
Erik Wenstob is Kevin and Sarah’s eldest son and a natural mechanical genius. Erik fell in love with fixing things as a teenager, when he bought an old dirt bike and brought it back to life so he could go dirt biking with his life-long friend Coleman. He’s had the bug ever since. What Erik loves even more than fixing things is finding unique solutions to hard-to-solve problems, and inventing new machines and new ways of doing things. Erik studied aviation mechanics and was training to repair helicopters when he felt compelled to return to the sawmill and help his parents keep the operation running. Today, Erik is glad to pitch in and play a key role in the family business by keeping Kevin’s motley collection of ancient, breakdown-prone equipment running at the sawmill and on their mountainside timber claim.
Coleman Wilner is Kevin Wenstob’s right-hand-man, as the hook tender on the timber claim, and his lead sawyer at the sawmill. A driven, dedicated, hard worker, Coleman aspires to one day be as successful in the business as Kevin is. On the mountain, Coleman does everything from drive logging trucks to choking logs, and at the mill he turns raw logs into valuable timber. Coleman has been working hard for the past five years and growing his skills and experience. While Coleman has a lot of skills in some areas, he’s got a lot to learn in others, but he’s always up for the chance to be shown the right way to do things.