The Rutherford Report—Mountain Business Sparked by Fire Threat

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“People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.”

—Albert Einstein
Mountain Business Sparked by Fire Threat

Scores of tree removal contractors from throughout the west poured into the San Bernardino Mountains after the Old Fire in 2003 as officials began allocating millions in federal grants to remove millions of dead and dying trees from the mountaintop.  

“We had a huge bark beetle epidemic. The hillsides were brown, and it looked like two-thirds of the trees were dead,” lifelong Lake Arrowhead resident Vic Leader said. “I figured if someone was going to cut them down, it might as well be me since I grew up here.”  

And thus began Arrowhead Enterprises, Inc.— a forest thinning, logging, hauling, and custom milling company.  

The first thing Vic did was purchase a dump truck so he could get in on the lucrative business of hauling all of the limbs and logs being generated by tree removal companies. Then he bought a logging truck, a log skidder, whole tree chippers on tracks, and more.  

“Every job I got, I would keep on buying more equipment to do the work,” he said.  

When the urgency to remove dead and dying trees from the mountain subsided, Leader began removing trees and performing tree maintenance for individuals in the mountains. He also secured a contract to take part in the San Bernardino County Fire Department’s curbside chipping program, which provides free curbside chipping to encourage residents to make their homes fire safe.  

Still, Leader knew his business needed to offer more if it was going to survive.  

“We can’t sustain logging contractors up here,” he said. “There’s just not enough work.”  

So he purchased sawmills and a kiln to create usable wood slabs and logs that could be transformed into beautiful headboards, fireplace mantles, dining room tables, benches and more.  

“It’s very gratifying when you take a small or large log and then turn that into something that someone can put into their home,” Leader said.  

Arrowhead Enterprises operated on land leased from the County behind Mountains Community Hospital until it recently moved to a nearly 5-acre property in Running Springs. Leader hopes to usher in the next phase of his business once his storefront opens next year.  

“I love woodworking, and I can’t wait for this part of the business to start paying my bills,” he said. “I have excellent visibility at the new location. It’s a place where we can really dig in and do something.”  

Visit to learn more about Arrowhead Enterprises.
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