TimberPro President Lee Crawford retires

After seven years as president of TimberPro, Lee Crawford has announced his retirement.

This draws to a close Crawford’s nearly 40 years in the forestry machinery business, during which he consistently exemplified entrepreneurial spirit and a caring attitude.

Pat Crawford, Lee’s father, was a third-generation logger whose company — Shawano-based Timbco — had become known for its popular line of levelling machines. But Lee Crawford never planned on entering the forestry industry, becoming an engineer at the Oshkosh Truck Company in 1982.

In 1985, however, his father asked him to join the family business at Timbco, where he started on the assembly line.

“It gives you credibility with your people,” Crawford said. “And you learn the products. You learn what needs to be changed.”

After his assembly line shifts ended, Crawford kept working, ordering parts and writing warranties.

Crawford eventually become vice president in 1992. In 2000, Timbco was sold to Partek, a Komatsu-owned company. The Crawfords bought back the wheeled division from Partek in 2002 to form TimberPro, which became recognized for its innovative track machine products. TimberPro was acquired by Komatsu in 2019.

Crawford considers everyone he works with his “TimberPro family.” Patrick Anderson, product supervisor, joined TimberPro at its founding, and called Crawford one of the most compassionate people he knows.

“As vice president of the company, he went to fix a valve all the way out in South Dakota on Christmas Eve,” Anderson said. “He’s family first, but he still goes out of his way to make sure you can spend time with your family.”

Joe Hardwick, vice president of New Hampshire-based logging company D.H. Hardwick and Sons, has a similar story to tell.

Two days prior to a logging expo in 2010, the engine of his machine died prematurely. The manufacturer wouldn’t help because the warranty had expired just a few hours prior. Hardwick met Crawford at the expo and told him what happened to his machine.

Crawford, shocked that the company had done nothing, told Joe, “I will get you a new motor at no cost to you. The only thing I ask is the next time you buy a machine, you give ours a try.”

Hardwick has remained a TimberPro customer since, and calls Crawford a “great mentor.”

In retirement, Crawford plans to stay involved in charitable giving with the Ruth and Pat Crawford Foundation, which has donated millions over the years to community organizations and food pantries.

While the TimberPro family is sad to see Crawford go, the legacy of the Crawford’s ingenuity and generosity will continue with Komatsu at the helm.

“By taking Komatsu’s strengths and combining it with TimberPro’s, we can be a leading supplier. We’re really excited about the future,” said Doug Morris, vice president, Forest Machine Business Division at Komatsu.

Crawford feels safe leaving his companies in Komatsu’s hands.

“Komatsu wants TimberPro to grow. Komatsu has the means and ambition to plan and grow our offerings over time,” he said. “My family was comfortable. Komatsu has the drive to get bigger and bigger and bigger. It’s going to be exciting.”