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High fuel prices hit local loggers and truckers hard


Anyone who drives a vehicle has likely noticed the steep $4.79 price tag on a gallon of gas.

But those who operate large trucks and heavy machinery are impacted even more than others.

Martin Sauer runs a trucking company out of Eagle River.

In the past year, fuel went from being about 25 percent the cost of his operation to 50 percent.

“That’s not a profitable operation,” he says. “There’s just no way you can do that without raising your rates.”

And gas isn’t the only product getting pricier.

“The tires have gone up considerably,” Sauer says. “The oil, just our normal consumables have gone up 50 percent, if not more.”

Sauer says he’s able to swallow rising costs because he has been in the trucking business for a long time and isn’t saddled with debt.

But that is not the case for everyone.

Trucking and logging equipment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, when the cost to operate the machinery goes up, not everyone can keep with their payments and continue turning a profit.

Brent Martin, who has been a logger for 30 years and sells logging equipment, says he’s noticed more and more people leaving the business.

He worries that if prices continue to rise, there won’t be enough loggers and truckers to meet the demand for timber.

“I believe if it goes up over $6 a gallon for Diesel, it’ll break a lot of people,” he says. “They’ll just quit.”

He says sawmills have started compensating loggers for fuel, but they don’t always pay enough to make up for the pressures of inflation.

That will have to change, he says, for supply to remain steady.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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