People are frequently asking how to generate ideas to start a business. The conventional advice is to start in one of these areas:
- Something you know a lot about
- Something you are passionate about
- A hobby or sport that you are interested in and good at
If you can find something that fits all three so much the better.
An Internet or Network Marketing business, although the only solutions for many people, are not the only choices for everybody.
Last Saturday, Sue and I visited the CanAm exhibition in London, Ontario. It is a 3 day event with a trade show, arena events, demonstrations by clinicians from various disciplines and lectures by experts. We go every year and always learn something new.
This year, we found a wonderful example of someone who had followed his passion in a very unusual direction and developed a thriving business from it.
Meandering through the exhibition hall, past beautiful horse trailers that cost more than luxury cars, top of the range pickup trucks to match, saddles that looked like works of art, the latest in horse feed, barn equipment, equine art, breed associations and more, we came across the Horse Power Logging Co. stand.
As a rural dweller in Ontario relying on a ravenous wood burning furnace to heat a large old farm-house, I have more than a casual relationship with wood, woodlots, cutting trees and transporting logs. So I had heard that log pulling with horses was still practiced and that in our new awareness of protecting the environment and reducing the use of fossil fuels, its use was increasing.
There was a video running which showed two horses pulling a very large log out of a snow-covered wood lot. Knowing how my 70 horsepower 2 wheel drive tractor struggles with logs that size in the snow or even on anything but very hard dry ground, I was fascinated.
We got talking to Aaron Wozniak and his charming wife Anna and they suggested we watch a live demonstration later that day which we did. This video gives an idea of what this team can do.
In the demonstration, Aaron and his team of two Belgian draught horses, Rex, 4 1/2 years old and weighing 1960 lbs and Mylo 4 years old and 1900 lbs warmed up with two small logs of around 500 lbs, then with one larger log of about 2000 lbs. Even though the ground was soft enough for the front of the log to plough a furrow, the horses managed this effortlessly.
Finally on to the challenge of pulling two large logs together with a combined weight of over 4000 lbs. The horses did have to use a bit more effort to get these moving, but they managed without much difficulty. Again my 70 hp tractor would have had great difficulty in pulling those 2 logs together and even with the diff lock engaged the wheels would have been slipping.
Aaron explained that he had always had an interest in heavy working horses, he had also gained considerable experience in felling trees. At the time that the economic downturn created difficulties for the business that Aaron was involved with, he had the opportunity to clear trails in a neighbours wood lot using the neighbours horse.
This led to Aaron and Anna buying their first Belgian working horse (and saving it from being slaughtered for meat) so that they could expand the horse logging operation, and the seeds of their new business were planted.
When the business Aaron was working for eventually closed, he decided to use his skills with horses and timber to start his Horsepower Logging business. He found that in the transition from hobby to business, there was still a steep learning curve, equipment to buy, horses to train, but he persevered.
Two years later he has the satisfaction of owning a successful business doing what he loves.
He listed all the advantages of using horses for logging, chiefly, considerably less damage to the environment and reduced usage of diesel when compared to diesel skidders and tractors.
It’s hard and dangerous work, Aaron and his team work year round except right now during the spring thaw and on the coldest winter days. He is booked up for work right through until next fall.
Here’s the link to their website – Horse Power Logging Co.
What a great example of combining an unusual skill with a passion for horses and using these to develop a modern business out of an ancient craft. Aaron and Anna, congratulations and thank you for this great example. We wish you every success and appreciate having had the opportunity to see your team in action.
If you were to ask most people what draught horses could be used for, they would probably think of the horses that pull the Budweiser wagon or those that pull carriages in Central Park, New York, or in parades around the country. People with farming connections might remember horse-drawn implements, but very few would think of using horses for logging.
So the moral of the story is, think creatively about your skills and passions, it is amazing what might just be the nucleus of a profitable and enjoyable business. And when you come up with a way to do that, take action and persevere until you are successful.
p.s. Still uncertain about taking the plunge and starting your business? Learn from an Olympic champion how to live “A Life That Counts”